CC Sabathia takes the mound in the series opener against the Red Sox today, looking to end a string of poor performances against Boston this season. Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox, compared to a 17-3 record and 2.40 ERA against everybody else.
Why has Sabathia struggled so much against the Red Sox this season? Here are the three primary reasons, according to our pitch-performance data:
Red Sox lefties -- Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez -- have hit .333 (16-48) with two home runs against Sabathia. All other teams’ left-handed batters have a .153 batting average with two homers in 157 at-bats against Sabathia.
Sabathia has fallen behind more often and pitched in more hitters counts against the Red Sox (26 percent of batters faced) than against other teams (18 percent). As a result, he has had to rely on his fastball more often, which the Red Sox have crushed. All other teams have hit .264 against his heater, while the Red Sox batters have hit .389 (21-54) in at-bats ending in the pitch.
NOT FOOLED BY HIS SLIDER
The Red Sox have laid off his slider, swinging at 43 percent of those pitches overall and chasing 30 percent out of the zone. The rest of the league has swung at more than 50 percent of his sliders, with a chase rate of 45 percent.
Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information