If you have not been paying attention, and based on the attendance numbers at Yankee Stadium you have not, It is time to give CC Sabathia a tip of the cap.
In 10 starts this season, he is 4-4 with a 2.28 ERA. He only has gotten 59 1/3 innings of work, so he has not thrown enough innings to qualify in the ERA race, but he is a just a few innings away from qualifying. As we sit here right now, he has the fourth best ERA amongst starters in the American League.
Let me say that again, Sabathia has the 4th best ERA amongst starters in the American League!
It is an amazing resurgence from a man that many, including myself, had given up on. He has dealt with the consistent conversation of his weight over the course of his career. He has certainly, very publicly, dealt with his battle with alcohol as he entered rehab before the Yankees playoff appearance at the end of last season. He continues that battle every single day for the rest of his life.
So we are looking at an athlete that has reinvented himself as a pitcher and a human being right before our very eyes. He no longer throws the baseball in the upper-90’s. He can’t just rely on velocity to dominate a particular lineup. He had to find another way. It has not been an easy transition for Sabathia as he has been largely ineffective for the past few years. In 2013, in 32 starts he was 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA. The year 2014 was lost as he made just 8 starts and went 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA and was done for the season in early July because of a knee injury. In 2015, in 29 starts, the big lefty went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA.
Looking back though, maybe we should have realized though that Sabathia has turned a corner a year ago as he finished the season pretty strong. In August he threw to a 3.80 ERA. In September, he threw to a 2.25 ERA and his lone start in October was very good. Remember back to last season as it was the knee brace that he said helped stabilize his right knee and helped to turn around his season? It allowed him to put his full weight on his knee which allows him to finish his pitches and have better control as well.
That trend has continued this season as Sabathia has been brilliant.
Coming into this season, Sabathia was owed $50 million dollars through the 2017 season. The contract was viewed as an albatross, one of many, mind you. It was thought that he was yet another example of a guy that was being paid for what they were and not what they are.
I am not saying that he is now worth every single dollar that is coming his way. I am also not going to tell you that he is the definitive ace of this team moving forward for the rest of the season. What I am saying is that you wanted to see CC Sabathia reinvent himself as a starter and he has.
Many thought he need to be relegated to the bullpen and should be used as a lefty specialist. He stayed in the starting rotation and he has thrived and has pitched brilliantly and he needs to be commended for it.
At one point in time, many felt there was a good chance they he could get to 300 career victories. As I write this column, he sits at 218 career victories and at 35 years-old, you will be hard pressed to convince me that he will get close to a number that at one point seemed realistic.
But that is an argument for another day. What I do know is this, Sabathia has done what many thought was the impossible and made himself relevant again. He is getting paid like an ace and he has pitched like one.
He has reinvented himself on the mound and in life. He deserves more credit for the latter, than the former, but both should be commended. In his last 6 starts, he has not allowed more than two runs in any of those starts. He has been that good.
As we sit here in June, the Yankees are hovering around the 500-mark and Sabathia is one of the reasons why. He has earned the cheers with his performance this season. That is why I love sports for stories like this.