Has C.C Sabathia’s weight lost been a negative, instead of a positive? If so, then this is the first time I’ve seen a weight lost be actually bad, instead of trying save your life…or your marriage.
Less Cellulite, Less Speed?
Ever since last season when Sabathia had a 14-13 record with a 4.78 ERA, his fastball hasn’t had the same velocity, which caused everyone to corner that as the reason for his bad season in 2013.
The fastball is the only thing that’s changed from his mechanics. His change-up looked great at last Friday’s game (and he’s always had a great one). So did his slider.
It’s Gotta Be The Fastball, Mars!
In seasons past, Sabathia’s fastball would average around 92, 93-mph. Then he would get it up to 95, 96-mph when he needed a little extra on it. Now, it looks like he can’t even reach 91 consistently. And lives mostly on 89, 90-mph.
Can Sabathia succeed with that fastball velocity? Of course. He just can’t miss down the middle of the plate anymore and expect a foul ball.
Sabathia has to do two things in order to succeed with a 89-90-mph fastball. He has to cut/sink the fastball more, and have a slower finish to the plate. He can’t rear back and flame throw it, anymore.
They’re two former teammates of Sabathia’s, that are left-handed pitchers who pitch, and pitched, very well without a high velocity fastball — that’s Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee.
Look at Pettitte’s and Lee’s fastball and their deception. Both had a fastball velocity around 89-90-mph and both had great finish to the plate.
Now, you can’t ask Sabathia to throw Pettitte’s cutter, since he had the best cutter the league has ever seen. But he can learn why Pettitte threw it well to fool hitters, which was his finish to the plate. When Sabathia releases the ball, he slips way off the mound because he forces that ball to the plate, instead of feeling it to the catcher’s mitt.
I was watching Lee pitch other the day — who I love to watch — and he just consistently threw 89-mph fastballs, and hardly throwing any off-speed pitches. He manages to fool hitters with weak groundballs and strikeouts. And why does he pitch so well with such minor stuff? Because of his deception to the plate.
That’s why Pettitte and Lee won, and won a lot, with a low 90s fastballs. Sabathia’s has got to learn how to become a feel pitcher.
Sabathia has a very good deception to the plate. Which is the reason why his change-up is still effective. His pitching motion was made to fool the hitters with his offspeed pitches. But now he’s got to learn how to fool hitters with his fastball.
Sabathia has to cut the fastball more and hide it, more. If he can do that, he could become even better pitcher than he was before, because he’ll teach himself how to get contact outs.