My wife had a friend over a few weekends ago and while (responsibly) unsober, they watched this Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum video.
They went on for the rest of the weekend saying ew at spontaneous inappropriate times. I committed to never saying ew in this tone and then all of a sudden I saw this:
(Courtesy of FanGraphs)
Now I do know this is a stupid way to start a post, but I literally said ew in this way and decided to move forward anyway.
After averaging almost 91 mph on his fastball in his 2nd start, he barely managed above 90 this past Wednesday, 17April2013. On the year, his Fastball is averaging 89.9 mph compared to 92.4, 93.9 and 93.6 in the previous three years.
Bill Petti on Fangraphs referenced this issue and also pegged him for further velocity loss. He goes on to say Pitchers that lose at least 1 mph have, on average, a 39% chance of either getting injured or failing to throw at least 40 IP in the following season. They also have a 91% chance of losing further velocity the following season.
Folks, it's a great time to sell high on CC Sabathia. To date, he has a 2.57 ERA (3.85 SIERA). I believe his ERA will catch up and again surpass his SIERA like it did last year (3.17 SIERA and 3.38 ERA).
If his peripherals continue/velocity drops or even doesn't pick up we're looking at a K/BB ratio similar to his 2010 level of 2.66 but with a less graceful GB/FB ratio like in 2009 (1.15). The combined effect should yield an ERA beyond his SIERA from those two years: 3.79 and 3.70.
To date, hitters are swinging at less stuff outside the zone and more at stuff inside. On the other hand, hitters' contact% against him and their swing at strikes and miss% are in line with what we would have expected prior to this velocity dip, but if his velocity struggles continue, this could change and again these combining effects will negatively inflate his numbers - overall contact% > more fly balls > more HR/FB.
Looking at his 2013 repertoire to date, it doesn’t seem as though he's less confident throwing his fastball (57.1% versus 54% all of last year). Instead, it looks as though he's trying to mix and match his Fastball-Changeup a bit more (16.8% changeups versus 12.6% and 13.4% in the previous two years). If his head takes over with everyone asking about the velocity dip and he sticks with this new fastball-changeup approach, I'm not sure it will be successful. Right now hitters are hitting his changeup the hardest (.381 wOBA versus .310 on his fastball, .177 on his curveball and .127 on his slider which continues to be very successful).
Recommendation: Keep an eye on his velocity and approach if you can't manage trading him, otherwise take advantage of his ERA and K/BB to date and sell high because neither will hold up.
Dan Schwartz owns and contributes for rotobanter.com - dedicated to fantasy baseball visitor requests and live discussion.