C.C. Sabathia, now playing in his 15th major league season, has been one of the most effective hurlers during his career. In his first 14 years, 2001-2014, he was first in wins (208) and strikeouts (2,437) and second in complete games (37) and innings pitched (2,821.1).
His accomplishments during his first 13 seasons rank him as one of the greatest in history. He is one of three hurlers (Cy Young and Greg Maddox) to have a winning record and at least 180 innings pitched in 13 consecutive seasons. He is one of just four (Tom Seaver, Don Sutton and Eddie Plank) to have at least 11 wins in each of his first 13 seasons in the majors. He was the first pitcher since Maddox in 1999 to have won his 200th game by his 33rd birthday, July 21, 2013.
Did all that work have a deleterious effect upon his pitching? He has only won eight games since July of 2013. In the 2014 season, Sabathia’s record was 3-4 and his ERA was high 5.28. His final start of the season was on May 10th and he was on the disabled list for the rest of the season.
The veteran hurler lost his fourth decision in his fourth game of 2015 on Saturday. He left the game after two batters in the sixth frame. The first Kevin Plawecki, in his fourth game in the majors, led-off the inning with a home run. The final batter he faced, Juan Lagares, singled for his third hit of the game. Lagares finished the contest with four hits to tie his career high. Sabathia departed the game after yielding seven earned runs and nine hits in 5+ innings.
In three of the four starts, the lefty gave up at least four earned runs. The decision on Saturday was the sixth straight decision the starter lost. His winless streak extended to seven games, the longest in his career.
Although the following games were not part of this streak, the 34 year-old was 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in three games during Spring Training in 2015.
Not every observer of these recent outings comes to the same conclusion. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi feels Saturday’s contest was an aberration, “He [Sabathia] threw pretty well this year. I think in three of them he threw the ball well. In this one, he struggled for whatever reason. We’ll get back to work and get him right.”
Whether or not Sabathia improves in his forthcoming starts this year will soon be seen.