Hooray! We get to face him one last time before Mark Shapiro bends to the avalanche of calls and swaps him out of the AL Central for good! Back to being late!
CC is a long and well known enemy. For Ozzie, he's one of those tip-your-hat aces that too often induces The Father of Oney to rhetorically and even sometimes managerially cede the game. These are the supernatural that grace us with their presence. Respect, evidently, is due. Nonetheless, I feel inclined to examine Sabathia on my own and see what there is to see. Not with the intent to call him anything less than quite good, though. You just can't in good conscience do so. The Large Lefty is legit.
He's got two plus off-speed pitches and plus velocity on the fastball. I suspect he actually doesn't have plus movement:
I'm pretty sure his fastball falls into the 4-8,Below group. That's the one we want. It's that fact combined with his consistent approach toward getting the first strike that makes Sabathia somewhat vulnerable. Once you get Sabathia's fastball in play, good things happen. The problem is that he makes you hit early in the count. Unless he's missing with his fastball (which is very rare), batters rarely get in to the good late counts (2-0 and 3-1). His offspeed stuff is fantastic, as he throws both for strikes at an above average rate and, despite that, consistently gets swing and misses from both LHB and RHB. On top of that, they're difficult to put into play. So RHB like Alexei and OC should have a good chance to do some damage today, but guys who like to work the counts, especially Jim Thome (b/c of the slider), Carlos Quentin (because of the change and the slider) and Swish (b/c he whiffs in late counts anyway). You'll notice that the less power a Sox hitter has, for the most part, the more likely it is I pegged them for a bad game. That's not good. It would be nice if Crede could hit lefties or, for that matter, was in the lineup
It's also going to be difficult to get Sabathia's pitch count up, since deep counts work to his advantage. He'll probably outlast Contreras and give the Indians more quality innings, which more or less negates our bullpen advantage. I don't like our chances a lot, especially since the conditions for HR hiting will be poor. Considering the number of groundballs Sabathia induces and the probably poor hitting environment with CC factored in, you'll probably see a lot of intervention on Ozzie's behalf. I suspect Alexei and OC will get some stolen base attempts and BA will be asked to bunt at some point, as wil AJ. I don't think it will help, but at least it'll give the Talking Heads (the bad kind) more reason to bitch about fundamentals.
Oh, and here are two interesting graphs that have an interesting correlation in '08, but I'm not sure which is the cause and which the effect: