CC Sabathia delivered a strong Yankees postseason debut last night, going 6.2 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 8 hits, zero walks, and 8 strikeouts. However, as Joe Pawlikowski notes, CC did not have everything working last night:
It took Sabathia 64 pitches to get through the first three innings, but he settled down after that, requiring just 31 pitches to get through the next three. He appeared to tire in the seventh, using 18 pitches to record two outs while putting runners on second and third. Phil Hughes came on to quell the threat, striking out Orlando Cabrera has he has done to so many other hitters this season.
“My changeup was really good,” said Sabathia. “The cutter was pretty good with two strikes.” Yet Sabathia admitted that not everything was perfect. “The fastball command wasn’t always there, but I was able to make some pitches when I needed to get someone out.”
This is something that was clearly noticeable throughout his start, as he consistently missed with his fastball. Meanwhile, his breaking pitches were stellar, as he was locating them perfectly and getting plenty of swing-and misses on them. The changeup, in particular, looked excellent, and he was using it to set up his slider as the out pitch for much of the night. He struck out 8 batters, and 7 of them were swinging strikeouts. Of the swinging strikeouts, 6 were on sliders, and one was on a changeup, and the one looking K was also on a slider. Here are the numbers on his pitches:
Pitches/Total Strikes/Swinging Strikes
While the Jorge Posada bashing will probably be constant over the next few days, Jorge should get credit for limiting use of the fastball in the later innings, as CC started off most of the hitters after the 3rd inning with breaking stuff. The numbers support this observation, as CC threw barely half of his pitches as fastballs (58 of 113, or 51.3%). Compare that to his fantastic start against Boston on August 8th, where CC threw 78 fastballs among his 123 pitches (63.4%). Most of the slack was taken up by the changeup, which was used 11 more times in last night’s game than it was used in that August contest.
The adjustment was quite noticeable, as CC began flying though innings and clearly settled down after a rocky first 3 innings. Hopefully CC has his fastball command in his next start. However, we saw last night that even when he does not, he can be quite effective.
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