Lack of fastball command dooms Sabathia

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Following Friday's loss to the Rays, CC Sabathia is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in his last four starts. New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia earned the loss on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing four earned runs and six hits in 6 ⅔ innings. It was hardly his worst start of the year, but the lefty is now 0-3 in his last four outings with a 4.67 ERA. In his previous nine starts, Sabathia went 6-0 with a 3.25 ERA.

After spending two weeks on the disabled list last month with elbow soreness, Sabathia returned on August 24 and allowed one run in 7 ⅔ innings in a win against the Indians. Since then, Sabathia has struggled to close out hitters and it has been due to his fastball location.

CC Sabathia Fastballs
2012 Season

Sabathia, like many pitchers, is at his best when he can keep his fastball down. Opponents are batting .236 with a .735 OPS on fastballs down in the zone against him this season; those numbers jump to .333 and .928 on fastballs up in the zone.

Before he went on the DL in August, he left only 34 percent of his fastballs up. He’s thrown 45 percent of his fastballs up in the zone since coming off the DL including 57 percent against the Rays on Friday (second-highest of the season). The Rays went 4-10 against Sabathia fastballs overall with two of those hits coming on heaters that were up.

The lack of control also seemed to diminish his confidence in the pitch on Friday as he only threw it 38 percent of the time. That represents his lowest fastball rate of the season and his second-lowest fastball rate since joining the Yankees in 2009.

The good news for Sabathia? His average fastball velocity on Friday topped out at 95 MPH--his fastest since August 24--and his off-speed pitches were very effective. Rays hitters went 2-16 (.125 BA) against his non-fastballs and he induced groundballs on nine of the 13 that were put in play on Friday (69 percent).

Derek Jeter


But perhaps the highlight of the night for the Yankees, shortstop Derek Jeter recorded his 3,284th career hit on a fifth-inning single off of David Price (He would add another hit later in the game). The single moved Jeter past Willie Mays for 10th place on baseball’s all-time hit list. Next up is Eddie Collins with 3,313 hits.

--Justin Havens and Dan Braunstein contributed to this post--