Yankees Still Waiting on Ace CC Sabathia to Pitch Like One

CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia
Robert Deutsch USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, Alfredo Aceves was the best pitcher used by the Yankees.

That would have been perfectly acceptable if his 5 1/3 scoreless innings occurred in a relief of a fourth or fifth starter, took place in a long extra-inning game, after a rain delay, or it was an actual starting assignment.

The problem for the Yankees was that it was none of those. The problem was that it came after CC Sabathia was ineffective for 3 2/3 innings.

Yes, 3 2/3 innings.

Let that sink in. The man who is supposed to be the Yankees’ No. 1 guy couldn’t get past the fourth inning and he didn’t even throw 100 pitches.

He threw 77 of them and very few were effective which resulted in a line of five runs and 10 hits, including a three-run inside-the-park home run by Wil Myers.

Sabathia is always accountable and shows that he cares about the responsibility of living up to his big contract. In fact, he’s so accountable that at home games, he’s often waiting at his locker as media enters the room from Joe Girardi’s press conference.

Yesterday, he said a lot of things that Yankees didn’t want to hear and hope they don’t hear that often the rest of the season.

“Going through this adversity has been the toughest part of my baseball career by far,” Sabathia said. “But I know I’ll come out of this a better pitcher for it.”

Among the things, he also said is that he’s better suited mentally to handle setbacks and adversity. Last year because he was so unaccustomed to it, he made himself miserable, not Paul O’Neill water cooler miserable but certainly upset at himself even more than fans.

“I just keep going out there trying to get better,” Sabathia said. “I think last year I got down on myself and made myself miserable. I think this year, I’m (going to) stay positive and do a little better in my preparation before games, scouting report, watching videos because I know I can get these guys out. I’ve done it, so I’ll stay confident.”

Sabathia’s adversity is a month into the season and in reality in its seventh month since he was a mediocre 14-13 with a career-worst 4.76 ERA. When he spoke about what wrong and how he is trying to maintain a positive outlook while working to fix it, Sabathia had a 5.75 ERA.

Among ERA qualifiers, only Kevin Correia (6.09), Danny Salazar (5.93), and Ricky Nolasco (5.82) are worse. None of those pitchers have the track record let alone the contract that Sabathia has.

Sabathia will turn 34 in July and he will doing so with the following average velocities on pitches:

Fastballs (including sinking fastballs – 88.6)

Sliders (80.4)

Changeups  (83.0)

Still not all is lost, especially considering Sabathia has been a strikeout pitcher at times. This year, he’s getting 9.74 strikeouts per nine innings and that’s actually his highest rate ever, surpassing the previous best of 8.93 during 2008 when he split the year with the Indians and Brewers.

Sabathia will return to Milwaukee this weekend and even though he helped the Brewers to one of their postseason appearances, he might get the Robinson Cano treatment.

Regardless of the noise coming from fans, Sabathia will hope it starts the turnaround from a 4.94 ERA over his last 251 2/3 innings. Only Edinson Volquez (5.43) and Edwin Jackson (5.02) has worst ERAS among pitchers that have thrown 200-plus innings since the start of last season.

And if he can right himself, the Yankee world will be a better place and a boo-free world when he comes off the mound.

“I’d have booed myself,” Sabathia said. “I’m just as tough (on myself as the fans).  I wouldn’t want to come to the ballpark and watch that.”

Neither do Yankee fans and the considering the state of their rotation, those are words nobody wants to hear or read.

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Larry Fleisher
Larry Fleisher has covered sports in various capacities for nearly 15 years. He is a writer/editor for the Sports Xchange and has also worked for SportsTicker and Metro New York newspaper. Larry also has worked on many NBA broadcasts doing stats, on several TV shows as a background actor. He is a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the Internet Baseball Writers Association.