Contrary to what some believe, I don’t think what we saw last night from Sabathia was the CC of old. It was the same Sabathia we’ve seen all season, just pitching to the hapless Baltimore Orioles.
The main problem is this: Sabathia’s mechanics are off. His shoulder is flying off too early and too many of his pitches are ending up in the zone and just outside on righthanded batters. Check out this video: Even on one of the strikeouts, at 1:05, Cervelli sets up way inside on the righty hitter, but the curveball ends up way outside. Luckily for Sabathia, Atkins swung anyway. That notwithstanding, Sabathia is pulling a lot of his pitches up and outside on righties, and creating opportunities for batters to drive balls into the outfield, as Atkins and Izturis did in the 2nd inning. Normally Sabathia is able to bore his fastballs and jam righties or make them miss. Righties strike out 21% of the time against Sabathia.
Fortunately, Sabathia was pitching to the Orioles, who have given him 3 of his 4 wins this season. (His other win was against the Red Sox, even though he pitched terribly.) Last season, Sabathia started off a little cold, but by early June, he had dropped his ERA to a respectable 3.6 level. Hopefully, Sabathia takes this game as a good omen and rights himself. But from what I saw yesterday, Sabathia was more a victim of good luck and a bad baseball team, than a pitcher who gave a great performance.