The More Things Change…

Man.  It was just days ago that we were discussing what C.C. Sabathia’s arrival in Milwaukee meant for their 2008 season.  After going 6-8 in Cleveland, the hefty lefty was nearly unhittable for the Brewers by going 11-2 with an ERA of 1.65.  But similar to what occurred last season for the Tribe, Sabathia entered the post season, and took the hill as a completely different pitcher.

Last night’s game saw the big man toss less than four innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four bases on balls.  His career post season ERA is just a few ticks under eight, while his regular season numbers are more than half.  Sabathia has only seen four seasons in the majors where his ERA is north of four, the last being in 2005 (4.03).  But once he hits the playoffs, he hasn’t seen an ERA under five, with the last season being 2001 (3.00).  An even uglier number: Sabathia has walked 22 batters in 25 innings of post season baseball.

Is it a coincidence that 2001 was Sabathia’s lowest season of total innings pitched (180.3) through his entire career?  The 253 innings that C.C. pitched this season is the largest amount of his career by a dozen.  He threw eight more innings with the Brewers than he did in Cleveland this year, though appearing in one less game.  In 17 games for the Brewers, Sabathia tossed seven complete games.  And we’ve also mentioned the fact that Milwaukee tossed him out on the hill on three days of rest…multiple times.

But is it the innings pitched?  Or is it mental?  Some players are just not big game pitchers.  Brett Myers had an awful start to the 2008 season, one that saw him spend time in Clearwater with Philly’s high-A affiliate.  But in seven innings of pitching last night, Myers allowed two hits in seven innings of work. 

Granted, the big man is not exactly getting a ton of run support.  As mentioned, the Brewers weren’t touching Myers last night.  Last season, Sabathia received one run of support in his first outing against the Red Sox.  During Game 5, the Indians managed one run for the entire game – not that a few more would have helped with Sabathia giving up 10 hits.  But when your team isn’t hitting, a lot of undue pressure can pile up.

He admitted that last year he went into the playoffs “thinking that I had to throw no-hitters and shutouts every game. I think that’s why you saw me pressing.”

But in the end, ace pitchers (that will undeniably get “ace” money) need to be relied on in the playoffs.  A team will toss roughly $150 million to Sabathia this year, and that will get them plenty of solid games.  But given his track record in the playoffs, is it worth it?  What is the cause of this autumn breakdown?  And most importantly, can it be avoided?

  • Nicko

    After that at bat vs Brett Myers (who had 4 hits all year) where he was fouling off pitch after pitch to stay alive and eventually draw a walk, you could see the writing on the wall.

    Walks the next guy on four pitches to load the bases.
    Then the grand slam.

  • DP

    How many starts in a row was this on 3-days’-rest? He was clearly out of gas.

  • Scott

    He tossed on September the 16th, 20th, 24th, 28th and now October 2nd.

  • DP


  • MacNip

    He is the A-Rod of pitchers

  • Eric

    He pitched on 3 days rest in a pennant race…all 3 of his previous starts on 3 days rest were MUST WIN games. And he pitched 21.2 innings and gave up 3 runs, 15 hits, 4 BB and 21 K’s. CLUTCH.

    I think it was likely the fact that it was his 4TH!!!! straight start on 3 days rest at the end of a long season where the Brewers had worked him like a dog.

  • Nicko

    First time the Brewers have been in the playoffs in 27 years I think, and it might be a quick exit. And they are going to lose their top two pitchers in Sheets and Sabathia.

  • Scott

    @Nicko: …and will be out at least two top prospects…

  • Nicko

    Very true. Forgot about that. Wow.

  • Cindy

    I was thinking the same thing, MacNip.

    I was really hoping that last years’ playoff performance was an aberration for Sabathia but he clearly has a monkey on his back.

  • Nicko

    Indians took Brantley as expected.

  • Rick

    I feel bad for CC. He may have earned a rep here in Cleveland for not winning the big game, but I think it will be magnified now since he has done it with two teams.

  • Mike

    I’d feel a lot less bad for CC if he had won a single game in the playoffs last year.

  • cathy

    I have no excuse for him. He is the majors and needs to be able to perform when needed. I do feel bad for him in the respect that this may have an ill effect on him next season and where he goes. But bottum line no matter who he’s playing for he needs to bring it when it’s desperatly needed, he’s not doing that. Getting the team so far isn’t enough, he has to help finish. He’s a great pitcher during the regular season but continuesly chokes in the games that truely matter. Sorry big guy.

  • The Bambino

    It’s not like he got shelled last night. One big hit really. Obviously it wasn’t enough, but it’s not as though they rocked him off the mound. 5 runs isn’t terrible.

    As far as the money goes…is he worth it?
    Yes. CC is a stud.

  • Pat18970

    No team that wants CC bad enough to payout that kind of money is even going to think twice about those playoff appearances.