Drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in 1998, CC Sabathia has accomplished a lot in Major League Baseball. He’s a Cy Young award winner, he twice led the American League in wins, and he’s a six time all star. Cabathia also helped the New York Yankees win a World Series in 2009.
However when we dig a little deeper at the biggest games of Sabathia’s career, it illustrates that he failed to show up in the biggest moments and struggled to stay on the mound.
In Sabathia’s 13 year pitching career, he has a 3.61 earned runs against average. Not record breaking, but still a very good ERA in the “live ball era.” Unfortunately Sabathia has not been able to translate his regular season greatness into the postseason. Sabathia’s postseason ERA is a mediocre 4.53, with very little success. His time with the Cleveland Indians was some of the most inconsistent pitching you will ever see. With the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia started four playoff games and only managed to pitch 21.1 combined innings. His 17 runs allowed and 27 hits those 21.1 innings as an Indian, isn’t something that resembles greatness.
In Sabathia’s only playoff start as a Milwaukee Brewer, he would allow six hits and five runs in just 3.2 innings pitched. That’s an atrocious performance.
Sabathia has always been an unreliable pitcher who doesn’t show up in the playoffs, but his endurance holds him back as well. He’s far from a Bob Gibson or a Sandy Koufax, because he fails to pitch complete games and pitch long into games. Could his weight be an issue?
Sabathia has pitched only 37 complete games in his career, just 11 as a Yankee. He’s only recorded two shutout in his five seasons with the Yankees. His playoff endurance is even worse, as he has only pitched one complete game in the postseason. Yes, he did help the Yankees win the 2009 World Series, but his assistance was second rate, not all time great. His lone victory in the World Series was a 7-4 victory in which he would only pitch six innings.
Alex Rodriguez is hated by many Yankees fans, but he accomplished more for this franchise than Sabathia ever did. Rodriguez (as a Yankee) had two season in which he would win AL Most Valuable Player, seven consecutive 100 RBI seasons, and a 50 home run season. In the 2009 playoff run, Rodriguez posted a .365 batting with six home runs. He would post a hit in 13 out of 15 games that postseason. Rodriguez has never been “Mr. Clutch” in the postseason, but he contributed to the 2009 World Series more than Sabahia did.
In Sabathia’s 19 career playoff starts, 14 of them saw him exit before he even made it to the seventh inning. It is also worth noting that Sabathia has never once pitched a game seven in his career. Too much pressure? Sabathia has also never pitched in three separate playoff games in one postseason series. The two most important combinations about a pitcher are- how long can he pitch and what does he allow?
Sabathia has been a good pitcher, but hasn’t come close to living up to his $161 million contract. His inability to pitch in the playoffs at the same level he did in the regular season has held him back. His failure to pitch deep into games have also had a negative impact on his legacy.