By Sweeny Murti
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OAKLAND, Calif. (WFAN) — It’s no secret CC Sabathia hasn’t been good this season.
But according to some interesting nuggets provided by the research team at MLB Network, his problems have not been completely about his pitching and the Yankees’ hitting.
“The Yankees defense has made plays on just 78.5 percent of groundballs behind CC Sabathia. The league average made-play rate is 86.1 percent on ground balls. Sabathia’s middle infielders have a combined 71.0 percent success rate (22 of 31 opportunities). Sabathia has not helped himself, making plays on just three of seven ground balls that were possible for him to make.”
While it seems Sabathia has tried to do what he is best capable of these days — getting ground ball outs — he has not been successful at turning these into actual outs, and as you can see he’s partly to blame, too.
When Sabathia strung together a couple wins earlier this month it didn’t show us that he was “back” so to speak. It just showed us that he has the ability to still get some outs.
A former teammate of Sabathia’s told me a few weeks ago that the veteran left-hander needs to locate his fastball inside more and open up the outer half for his off-speed pitches. That’s a formula he can use to get deeper into ball games even if he’s barely breaking 90 on the radar gun. Andy Pettitte pitched much the same way late in his career and did it quite successfully. Sabathia did that well in his two wins before getting hammered by Texas his last time out.
Of course there is indeed pressure to sure up the Yankees’ infield defense. It’s been a bad first two months on the left side with Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius. Those two are essential to Sabathia’s success and turning around those terrible ground ball numbers.
Sabathia will be on the mound Thursday night in the series opener in Oakland, which marks the start of the Yankees’ seven-game road trip.
Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN