I don’t remember who brought it up last night, but it was a fair point: CC Sabathia and Francisco Cervelli don’t seem like perfect partners. Sabathia is calm and collected. He might let out a scream now and then, but his ability to stay emotionally centered is a big part of his persona on the mound. Cervelli is the opposite behind the plate with his constant fist pumps and over-the-top reactions.
Why is that Sabathia has been at his best since he’s been working with Cervelli?
“Because of that combination,” Sabathia said. “He’s got a lot of energy and he comes up to the mound a lot and makes sure that I’m finishing pitches and trying to be aggressive.”
There’s a solid chance that the real answer is this: It doesn’t matter how or why they work together.
Most days, I’m sure Sabathia could work with anyone and get results. He’s been pitching so well lately, he could probably pitch to my grandmother and still get guys out.* I don’t think Cervelli is the reason he’s been so good — and I wouldn’t say the results would be any worse with Martin behind the mound — but Sabathia does have some eye-opening stats during his games with Cervelli.
Cervelli’s been behind the plate for Sabathia 10 times this season. Sabathia has a 2.33 ERA with a .215 opponents batting average and a 3.95 strikeouts-to-walk ratio. Those numbers are quite a bit better than he had with Martin earlier this season.
Even if the Cervelli/Sabathia combination isn’t the reason for the success, they’re certainly fun to watch together. There’s something interesting about to icy cool of Sabathia, with the boiling-over excitement of Cervelli.
“I just try to keep him in the game, no matter what happened,” Cervelli said. “This is my game. I love this sport, and every time I’m there, I’m going to compete… I come here ready to catch every day. If they tell me it’s just with CC, that’s fine. But I come ready for everybody.”
* You know, my grandmother could probably call a pretty good game. I’m not sure she could actually catch the thing without be knocked over backwards, but she’s watched a lot of baseball in her life. I think she could hold her own.
Associated Press photos