CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia
38-Year-Old PitcherSP
New York Yankees
Injury Knee
Est. Return 4/12/2019
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Sabathia has been a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher in each of the last three seasons, since his "reinvention" a few years back when he began making the cutter a big part of his repertoire. The skills have been closer to that of a low-to-mid-4.00s pitcher, with Sabathia's K-BB rate ranging from 11.2% to 13.4% in that span. Meanwhile his HR/9 has ranged from 1.10 to 1.27. The Yankees have been wise to limit his exposure to opposing orders a third time in recent seasons, but they could take it a step further if they wanted to -- Sabathia has given up a whopping 14 homers in just 65 innings his third time through over the past two seasons. Sabathia underwent another cleanup procedure on his knee in October, as well as an angioplasty to unblock a coronary artery in December, but he should be fully operational by spring training. The 38-year-old Sabathia will have to serve a five-game ban at the start of the season for intentionally throwing at a player in September. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Yankees in November of 2018.
Will serve suspension first
PNew York Yankees
March 24, 2019
Sabathia (knee, chest) will be on the Yankees' Opening Day roster to serve his five-game suspension, Coley Harvey of reports.
Sabathia would likely begin the season on the injured list without the suspension, but it makes sense for the Yankees to get the suspension out of the way early. The 38-year-old threw two innings in minor-league game Thursday and remains on track for a return sometime in April, but he's still expected to make a trip to the IL before returning.
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Pitching Stats
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Minor League Game Log
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .213 392 93 42 71 10 1 9
Since 2016vs Right .257 1664 319 124 390 65 5 53
2018vs Left .180 124 32 17 18 2 0 3
2018vs Right .264 541 108 34 132 27 1 16
2017vs Left .253 113 23 10 25 3 0 2
2017vs Right .244 510 97 40 114 17 3 19
2016vs Left .209 155 38 15 28 5 1 4
2016vs Right .260 613 114 50 144 21 1 18
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
Since 2016Home 3.98 1.29 244.1 16 13 0 8.0 2.7 1.3
Since 2016Away 3.53 1.32 236.0 16 11 0 7.4 3.6 1.0
2018Home 3.12 1.26 80.2 6 3 0 8.4 2.5 1.1
2018Away 4.23 1.37 72.1 3 4 0 8.1 3.6 1.1
2017Home 4.20 1.23 75.0 7 2 0 7.8 2.8 1.4
2017Away 3.18 1.32 73.2 7 3 0 6.7 3.3 1.1
2016Home 4.57 1.35 88.2 3 8 0 7.9 2.7 1.3
2016Away 3.26 1.29 91.0 6 4 0 7.3 3.8 0.9
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Stat Review
How does CC Sabathia compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
90.3 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Sabathia again fought through several injury issues in 2017 (knee, hamstring), but with his new approach working with diminished velocity and a little grace from the baseball gods, he posted a 3.69 ERA, his best mark since his stellar 2012 season. A cutter helped, but the southpaw still failed to top 7.6 K/9 or walk fewer than 2.7 batters per nine innings - a combination that leaves him ripe for a painful correction as he nears his 38th birthday. Sabathia was lucky last season with an inflated 79.0 percent LOB% - a career high -- and run support from an upstart Yankees club that helped push him to 14 wins. The Yankees valued his ability to eat innings enough to bring him back, though as his bulky body ages and the winds of fortune change, the results figure to suffer.
Coming off the worst three seasons of his career, winning a spot in the Opening Day rotation was not a sure thing last season for Sabathia. However, after a slow start, the big lefty appeared to be his vintage self and put together a dominant month of May in which he boasted a 25:5 K:BB and 1.04 ERA. He stayed healthy and brought a sub-3.00 ERA into the final week of June, and it looked as though he had finally figured out how to pitch around the drop in velocity he's experienced. Things unraveled in the second half, though, and the long ball largely did Sabathia in, as he surrendered 16 homers over his final 15 starts. Still, his 3.91 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were his best marks since 2012, and he did more than enough to ensure he won't have to fight for a rotation spot again this spring. He won't be regaining his Cy Young form again, but at least he has shown that he can be useful in mixed leagues for prolonged stretches.
Sabathia appeared headed for another season with an ERA over 5.00, but rebounded after a disastrous start. The lefty posted a 3.80 ERA in August, then followed that up with a 2.17 ERA in five starts in September and October, as he flashed some of his former ace stuff. His average fastball velocity also jumped up back over 90 mph again after dipping down to 88.8 mph in 2014, but it wasn't all positive for the 35-year-old. He still finished with a 4.73 ERA, and his strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction. In addition, Sabathia missed the postseason after deciding to check himself into alcohol rehab. Sabathia has never appeared as a reliever in the regular season, and given the lefty's contract and the team's unwillingness to pay that much to a reliever, Sabathia should begin 2016 in the rotation.
Sabathia's incredible durability has officially run its course, as he fell below 28 starts for the first time in his career last season due to a knee injury limited him to just eight outings. Worse yet, he was terrible in those eight starts, as the hits and homers were plentiful and left him with a 5.28 ERA. He was missing bats and walking virtually nobody, but maybe the latter wasn’t so good considering how much damage was being done on his pitches. Sometimes you have to wonder if maybe a guy is hitting the zone too regularly when hits are being collected at an 11.3 per nine clip and homers at 2.0 per nine. Of course, it is all contained to a small sample so it’s difficult to make large, sweeping judgments either way. What is certain is that his velocity continues to erode, dropping for the third straight season to below 90 mph (88.8 mph average fastball). How much of that is the knee and how much is just the continued decline of a 34-year old with 2,821 innings on his arm? The discount to acquire him on draft day should be substantial and it's not a terrible gamble with the knee said to be back at 100 percent.
Sabathia was the target of media criticism during his subpar 2013, when he gave up the most earned runs of any pitcher in the American League. Sabathia appeared significantly slimmer than usual, and it seemed as though he didn't adjust well to his new body type, but it's hard to know how much of Sabathia's struggles were a blip on the radar screen and how much he may have actually declined thanks to the heavy workload he's sustained throughout his career. The ace-like numbers are probably a thing of the past for Sabathia, but he could certainly be in line for something of a rebound season. Keep an eye on his velocity in spring training, as Sabathia lost a full mph off his fastball for the second straight season.
Sabathia put up his usual outstanding numbers in 2012, but the massive workload he's taken on the last few years may have caught up with him a bit, as he missed time during the season with elbow soreness and ended up having minor surgery after the season. He's expected to be fully ready for spring training, however. Any player coming back from surgery carries a bit of risk, but Sabathia has shown remarkable resiliency through the years, and he's likely to put up something close to his usual production in 2013 after increasing his strikeout rate for the third straight season in 2012.
The big lefty had another fantastic season in 2011, going 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.226 WHIP. Sabathia's conditioning remained a topic of debate in the New York press in 2011, and he did appear to wear down a bit as the season progressed; after a dominant eight-start run from June through August where he went 7-1 with a 1.00 ERA, 0.910 WHIP, and 78 strikeouts in 62.2 innings, he went just 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.533 WHIP the rest of the way. Sabathia sounded really crushed by both the Yankees' playoff loss and his own late-season performance, so perhaps he'll turn that disappointment into improved conditioning, but even with his September swoon he remains one of the top starting pitchers to grab on draft day.
Sabathia's second year in the Bronx unfolded just as smoothly as the first, and at this point you can basically pencil him in for around 230 innings, 200 strikeouts and 20 wins. As long as he stays healthy, and he's been remarkably durable throughout his career, he'll again be one of the most dominant and most reliable starting pitchers in baseball.
Sabathia somehow lived up to $161 million dollars worth of expectations in 2009, posting numbers that were remarkably similar to his 2007 Cy Young campaign: 19-8, 230.0 IP, 197 K, 1.148 WHIP (his 2007 numbers: 19-7, 241.0 IP, 209 K, 1.141 WHIP). Pitching in hitter-friendly new Yankee Stadium didn’t seem to harm his totals one bit, and he remains one of fantasy baseball’s elite starting pitching options.
Sabathia was arguably the best pitcher in baseball during the 2008 season, but split his stats between two teams. His size does concern some that he'll have issues down the road, but the Yankees landed him with a seven-year, $161 million contract in December, and he'll head to the Bronx as the ace in a rebuilt rotation. While he should get plenty of run support and with that a better chance to win games, he'll also face tougher competition in the AL East.
Nineteen wins. 209 strikeouts. 3.21 ERA. 1.141 WHIP. Add it all up and you have the AL Cy Young award winner. Toss in a league-leading 241 innings and you've got a fantasy goldmine. Sabathia posted a remarkably similiar season the year before but only managed a 12-11 record in 28 starts after landing on the DL with an abdominal strain after his first start. There will be talk of all those innings maybe catching up to him, but Sabathia has never thrown less than 180 innings in his seven-year career. He's failed to make less than 30 starts just once. The big fella may simply have the ability to handle all those innings. The Indians will try to sign him to a long-term deal as he's set to hit the free agent market after this season. As long as he's healthy, expect another big season from Sabathia.
Can we all stop talking about how much Sabathia weighs and concentrate on what he does on the diamond? The now 26-year-old put up another stellar 2006, posting a career low 3.22 ERA, but because of terrible run support could only muster 12 wins. The pitch-count issue has gone away, as manager Eric Wedge has made it a point to keep him under wraps early in the season, while allowing him to let loose late. Barring injury, which is true of any ace, there is no reason to think Sabathia will not continue his progress.
Sabathia has been a rock in the Cleveland rotation since coming up in 2001 and going 17-5. He's put up consistent numbers and steadily improved -- dropping his walks per nine innings from 4.74 in 2001 to 2.84 in 2005. Staying healthy has always been the key for Sabathia, who is a big guy and has pitched at or close to 200 innings for five straight seasons. The workload does wear him down, but the nicks and cuts -- like the strained oblique in 2005 -- don't seem to knock him out for long.
Sabathia, who is a power pitcher and the ace of the Indians staff, lends much of his success in the past couple of years to his improving control. His walks decreased the last two seasons while most of his other stats have stayed about the same. He has also focused more in the past few years of getting more ground ball outs instead of trying to overpower every batter with strikeouts. In 2005, with a more experienced Indians team, Sabathia might be in position to win more games. One bit of caution - Sabathia was sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2004 and carried a high pitch-count burden at a young age. Perhaps he'll avoid significant injury in 2005, but actuarially speaking he's a high-risk pitcher.
Sabathia continues to exceed our expectations, lowering his ERA and WHIP in his third full season. We're still concerned about his workload - he averaged 104.8 pitches per start in 2003, third-highest in the AL (stat courtesy of the Bill James 2004 Handbook), and has thrown 588 innings in his first three years in the league. Sabathia's control improved last year, averaging 3.00 walks per nine innings after giving 3.77 per nine the year before.
Three reasons to be optimistic about Sabathia in 2003 – he had a scintillating August and September, posting a 2.90 ERA; he cut down his HR-allowed rate; and he cut his walk rate. Three reasons to be pessimistic about Sabathia in 2003 – he pitched 210 innings while turning 22 in July; he struck out considerably fewer batters per nine innings, from 8.5 in 2001 to 6.4 in 2002; he has a questionable off-field lifestyle. The lifestyle concerns and his overall physical fitness have us worried the most.
More Fantasy News
Pitches in minors game
PNew York Yankees
March 21, 2019
Sabathia (knee, chest) fired two innings in a minor-league game vs. Detroit's Triple-A affiliate Thursday, Bryan Hoch of reports.
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Completes simulated game
PNew York Yankees
March 16, 2019
Sabathia (knee/chest) tossed two simulated innings Saturday, Conor Foley of The Scranton Times-Tribune reports.
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Throws live bullpen session
PNew York Yankees
March 12, 2019
Sabathia (knee, heart, suspension) threw his first live bullpen session of the spring Tuesday, Bryan Hoch of reports.
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Likely to start season on IL
PNew York Yankees
March 6, 2019
Sabathia (knee, heart, suspension) is expected to begin the season on the injured list, Erik Boland of Newsday reports.
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Scheduled to throw again Sunday
PNew York Yankees
March 1, 2019
Sabathia is scheduled for another bullpen Sunday, Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reports.
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