May 1, 2013 posted by Paul Greco

Buy-Low Cut-Bait C.C. Sabathia

Buy-Low Cut-Bait C.C. Sabathia
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Every year there are slow starters in baseball…and then there is C.C. Sabathia. Every year, like clockwork, C.C. struggles in April and July – two months that have plagued him over his career.

Month IP ERA Walks Innings Pitched – Walks (low is bad)
March/April 387.0 4.05 135 252
May 468.2 3.42 129 333.2
June 420.2 3.55 119 301
July 411.1 4.00 149 262.1
August 476.1 3.25 117 359
Sept/Oct 443.1 2.86 130 313.1


Notice, in the two months where C.C. has pitched the fewest innings, he has the two highest monthly walk totals.

C.C. hasn’t really started that slow this year as he’s recorded a 3.35 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP through his first six starts. That said, the panic levels surrounding Sabathia’s start to the season seem to be higher than most seasons despite the ironically improved start stats wise. The biggest cause for concern is Sabathia’s decreased velocity. In 2012 Sabathia’s velocity topped out at 94.1 mph on Opening Day, but this year it was only 91.7 mph.

Perhaps another reason for the questioning of Sabathia’s start to the season is his ERA being inflated by a 78% strand rate (typically 74-75% for SP). He’s also given up six home runs on the season and all of them came in his last three starts.

One of the best used exercises for addressing player concerns in small sample sizes is to search through past history for one month stretches that mirror the current struggles.

Month – Year Fastball Velocity Pop-Up % xFIP HR/9 K% GB%
April 2013 90.67 mph 5% 3.82 1.26 20.3% 40%
July 2012 93.53 mph 3.33% 3.61 1.42 22.8% 39%
May 2011 94.04 mph 8.89% 3.87 0.40 16.1% 52%


These are Sabathia’s three worst months in the past three years in terms of xFIP and nothing in his skill profile reflects the current issues with velocity we are seeing. Should we begin to seriously question Sabathia’s ability to produce at a level which he has been at for almost his entire career?

Velocity is everything. Just ask Dan Haren.

Industry analysts and the baseball world in general seem unwilling to knock a consistent workhorse like Sabathia. The “Ahh, he’ll be fine,” “he does this every year,”  comments can be found everywhere. The reality of the situation is this; when does being such a durable workhorse over a five-year span with 230+ innings in each season start to become a cause for concern and not a cause for celebration? Justin Verlander’s workload seems to be taking a toll on him. Isn’t there a point at which it’s extremely reasonable to expect that a guy this durable is just going to break down?

C.C. Sabathia is not about to become the next Dan Haren, but that two mile-per-hour velocity decrease needs to be at the forefront of the minds of fantasy owners. If you can cut-bait on him, you need to do it now.

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco

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