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Saturday, June 11, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: C.C. SABBATHIA SP NEW YORK YANKEES

With 40-year-old David Ortiz in the running for the AL batting tile and maybe even MVP, it would make sense that arguably the worst pitcher in baseball the last three seasons leading up to 2016 would be in the midst of a spectacular turnaround to ace status.  I of course am referring to New York Yankees lefty C.C. Sabbathia who continued with his amazing turn back the clock performances this season by shutting out the Detroit Tigers for 7 innings Friday night which lowered his season ERA to 2.28.  Want some more dominant numbers?  Try the 0.71 ERA and 0.92 WHIP Sabbathia has accumulated in his six outings for the Yanks.  Combined together and what we have here is a confident lefty who is showing he is healthy both with his annually troublesome knee and with some off-the-field issues.

Now 35 going on 36, Sabbathia was the definition of the aging and overpaid pitcher going back to 2012 which was the last season prior to 2016 that he pitched at a high level.  2013 brought forth a shockingly bad 4.78 ERA, which was followed by an even more putrid 5.28 mark in 2014, and a 4.73 last season.  Included in that carnage was a hit rate that soared, a knee that became a chronic condition that required multiple surgeries, a fastball velocity that dipped from 97 all the way down to 90, and an alcohol problem that required intervention last postseason.  Thus there were more tha a few reasons to ever doubt Sabbthia would be useful both in real-life or in fantasy baseball ever again. 

Fast forward to present day and Sabbathia is pitching like the ace he has been for most of his career, of which the player himself cites a few key reasons.  The most important of course is that Sabbathia reportedly has kicked his alcohol habit, while at the same time has become very comfortable with a knee brace that causes no pain in the joint when he lands after releasing a pitch.  With a clear head mentally on both fronts, Sabbathia has reared back and throw it as hard as he can which has boosted his velocity back up a bit.  While the 7.60 K/9 is still just average, it is up from the 7.37 mark from 2015.  In addition, Sabbathia has kept the baseball in the park which was his biggest challenge the last few seasons.  With a HR.9 that soared to an ungodly 1.51 in 2015, Sabbahia has given up virtually nothing on that front this season with a 0.40 rate.  Yes he has gotten a bit of a boost with his .317 BABIP and the strand rate is even higher which means Sabbathia's ERA is not showing his true numbers there but overall you couldn't ask for anything more from the guy. 

When you put it all together, C.C. Sabbathia has done enough to re-enter the fantasy baseball circle of trust.  We still suggest treading very carefully here as there is no guarantee the health will continue and his FIP ERA of 3.33 means a rise in his ratios is likely the rest of the way.  Still Sabbathia can be used as your SP 5 at the very least which is something no one thought possible again. 


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