New York Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia has proven he can get by with a 90 mph fastball, a slider, and some guile … but Yankees fans prefer to see him do it like he used to, with a dominating fastball.
Heading into Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox, much had been made about the diminished velocity of Sabathia’s fastball at the start of the 2013 season. For much of his career, his fastball was consistently clocked at 94-95 mph, but it wasn’t anywhere close to that in his first 11 starts this year.
In fact, it had dipped as low as 89-90 and caused major concern in the New York newspapers. His numbers weren’t appreciably worse as a result, but they weren’t what Sabathia has been accustomed to in his career. Thus far, his 3.96 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were higher than his career averages as he stood with a 4-4 record at the start of the night.
On Friday, Sabathia was dominant against a Red Sox line-up that had scored the most runs in the league entering the game. In 7.1 innings of work, he struck out 10, allowed only one run, but most importantly, saw the velocity of his fastball tick back up to 93-94 mph.
Red Sox batters had to gear up for the rejuvenated fastball, making his slider and occasional change-up that much more effective. He wasn’t perfect as he had to pitch out of trouble on a few occasions, but he was noticeably better than he’d been at any point this season.
The 4-1 win was important for a Yankees team that had dropped five straight, including a four-game sweep by their crosstown rival, the New York Mets. With the win, they’ve pulled themselves back within a game of the lead in the American League East once again.
It was a night that was highly anticipated because Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis returned from the DL, but the biggest return of the night might have been the velocity of C.C. Sabathia’s fastball.