Is CC Sabathia a Clutch Pitcher?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CC Sabathia is about to make a boat load of money this offseason. He's a durable left handed ace who when ported to the National League won his first 9 decisions. He's been so dominant for the Brewers the 2nd half of the season that there were proponents for his Cy Young candidacy. And then September rolls around the Brewers hit the shitter and CC Sabathia is 0-2 in his 4 starts.

CC Sabathia has pitched for 4 teams in his career that were in the playoff race in September. In 2001, his rookie season, Sabathia helped lead the Indians into the postseason. In 2005 the Indians fought for both the wildcard and the division but came up short on both ends. Last season the Indians took home the division and this year he's obviously fighting with the Brew crew for the wild card. So let us simply look at his September numbers for these years.

In 2001 Sabathia threw 35 2/3 innings over 6 starts to the tune of a 4.29 ERA. He went 3-1 with 4 quality starts and two miserable starts where he gave up 6 and 7 runs respectively. His WHIP of 1.31 was mediocre mostly do to a poor BB per 9 of 4.54. One thing Sabathia did do in his 2001 season was finish extremely strong, his last three starts of the regular season he pitched 17 innings and gave up a lone run. Sabathia followed up the regular season outings by winning his lone playoff start, giving up 2 runs through 6 in an easy 17-2 victory.

In 2005 Sabathia was an absolute beast in September. Sabathia started 6 games going 4-1, throwing 43 1/3 innings to the tune of a 1.45 ERA and a WHIP of .9. His K per 9 in September of 05 was 9.55 and the only game the Indians lost which he started in September was more do to the offense than Sabathia. Sabathia gave up 1 run in 6 innings in a 2-0 shutout loss to the A's.

Last year people remember Sabathia's miserable postseason showing, but in September he went 4-0 in 5 starts. He threw 38 innings to the tune of a 2.37 ERA and a .97 WHIP. The Indians won all 5 of his September starts and Sabathia took home the Cy Young. In the postseason Sabathia however was quite the opposite. He gave up 3, 4, and 8 runs in his 3 respective starts and was amongst the main reasons the Indians choked away their series to the Red Sox.

This season for the Brewers Sabthia is 0-2 in 4 starts with a 3.03 ERA (plus 3 unearned runs) over 26 2/3 innings pitched. The Brewers are 2-2 in Sabathia's starts which isn't ideal, but it's certainly better than the 4-13 they are this month without him. Sabathia's is scheduled to go on 3 days rest tonight for the Brewers and if there's still a meaning to the game on Sunday he will again throw on 3 days rest. If Sabathia can come up big and help lead the Brewers to the postseason no matter he does in October he will be a hero in Wisconsin.

So what does history say? It tells you that for the most part Sabathia has been a very good pitcher in the closing month of the season when in the race. Even this year despite the slump, he's given his team a chance to win games and he's willing to make sacrifices for the squad.

These next 5 days could go a long way in eviscerating the memory of his horrid 2007 postseason and could potentially add even more money to a contract that already will compete for the highest in MLB.

Posted by Simon at 9:07 AM   Digg! submit to reddit BallHype: hype it up!


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