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What to make of Sabathia’s diminished fastball velocity

Posted By Chad Jennings On April 2, 2013 @ 1:09 pm In Misc | 5,267 Comments

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Asked specifically about the possible connections to offseason elbow surgery and a modified spring training scheduled, here’s what Joe Girardi had to say about CC Sabathia’s diminished fastball velocity in yesterday’s season opener.

“I think he was as ready as he’s been in the past. Spring training was a little bit longer, but he got a lot of innings and he got up to almost 100 pitches in spring training, which is normal. Sometimes, CC has been a guy that’s taken a little bit longer to get going in the past. It’s not something that I’m going to worry about after one start. I think he was ready for today.”

In each of the past four seasons with the Yankees, Sabathia has made exactly five April starts. Below are Sabathia’s game-by-game average fastball velocities for each of those starts, [3]followed by the five-game average fastball velocity for April and Sabathia’s average fastball velocity for each individual season. [4]

The conclusion: Although the velocity has varied from game-to-game, as a general rule, Sabathia really has thrown slower in April.

Does that mean yesterday’s velocity is a non-issue? Maybe. It really means it’s too early to tell one way or the other. Could be a sign that the surgery cost some arm strength, or that Sabathia’s beginning to age. [5]Could also be nothing more than a typically slow start, made even slower by the fact he didn’t have a normal spring training. It’s a curious situation, but not doomsday just yet.

2009
April game-by-game: 93.0, 94.0, 94.4, 92.3, 94.1
April average: 93.56 mph
Season average: 94.1 mph

2010
April game-by-game: 93.3, 94.0, 91.8, 92.8, 91.9
April average: 92.76 mph
Season average: 93.6 mph

2011
April game-by-game: 92.4, 92.9, 92.8, 93.5, 92.7
April average: 92.86 mph
Season average: 93.9 mph

2012
April game-by-game: 92.5, 91.0, 91.7, 92.4, 92.1
April average: 91.94 mph
Season average: 92.4 mph

Associated Press photo

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[2] Image: http://yankees.lhblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/9d0a3c70fff4d30a2d0f6a7067001a24.jpg

[3] average fastball velocities for each of those starts, : http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=404&position=P&type=11&gds=&gde=&season=2012

[4] for each individual season.: http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfx.aspx?playerid=404&position=P&pitch=FA

[5] Sabathia’s beginning to age. : http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cc-sabathias-velocity-is-definitely-worth-watching/