Can New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia get a win on his 33rd birthday against the Boston Red Sox? A Yankees pitcher hasn’t won a game on his birthday since Joe Cowley in 1984. That’s almost 30 years of winless birthday baseball for Yankees starters.
The fact that it is Sabathia’s birthday really isn’t the story of the game. What is the story is that Sabathia seems to be in a decline as the ace of the Yankees pitching staff. 33 years old isn’t exactly ancient in pitching years, but Sabathia has racked up more innings and pitches than any other pitcher in the big leagues. He’s thrown more than 42,000 pitches since 2001, and over 100 innings more than the second taxed pitcher on the list.
What’s measurably declining is his fastball velocity. Sabathia has only thrown one pitch at 95 mph this season, with his average speed being 90.6 mph. This means that he can no longer blow people away and has to be more careful placing his fastball on the corners; his can’t miss spots and get away with it anymore.
His stats on the season prove that he isn’t the same pitcher he once was. Sabathia has been in the league for 13 years and has a career 3.53 ERA, almost entirely in the tougher-to-pitch-in American League. This year, his ERA is 4.07, over half a run more than his career average. His 9-8 record is also not very ace-like. The good news is that Sabathia usually heats up in the second half of the season. He posts a 3.32 ERA after the All-Star break compared to a 3.69 ERA before the break. Hopefully, for the Yankees’ sake, this trend continues this season, because without Sabathia pitching like an ace, there won’t be a postseason to look forward to.