Lost in all the talk about Ivan Nova
's command, Andy Pettitte
's return, and Michael Pineda
's velocity is the rather pedestrian spring being had by another Yankee starting pitcher. This pitcher has made only 4 official starts this spring and in those 4 starts has thrown 14.0 total innings. In those 14 innings, he has allowed 7 earned runs on 19 combined hits and walks while striking only 10. As a back-of-the-rotation candidate, these numbers could be acceptable. For a guy being paid top dollar who is expected to anchor the starting rotation of the New York Yankees they are hardly encouraging and yet there hasn't been a peep from anybody in the media about him or his performance this spring.
As you probably guessed, the pitcher in question here is CC Sabathia
. CC has reached almost Mo-like levels of media non-coverage this spring, as the only time his name has been mentioned is on the days he's scheduled to pitch. His ST stat line suggests that he's had problems commanding his stuff and locating his pitches during his outings, and Sabathia himself has admitted that he had issues with his changeup earlier in camp and his 2-seamer still isn't where he wants it to be. On the surface, these should probably be just as important as MSM talking points as Pineda's velocity is. A team's ace, who also happens to be the highest paid pitcher in baseball, giving up more hits and runs than you'd like to see and heading into his final start of the spring before Opening Day without full command of his pitches should be a big story, especially with the New York sports media involved. They normally can't jump all over a story like this fast enough.
What prevents that from happening in this situation is track record. CC has spent 3 seasons in New York and has been a beast in all 3 of them. He's made 101 starts in a Yankee uniform, won 59 of them, pitched over 230 innings in each of his 3 seasons, and finished top 4 in the Cy Young voting in each of his 3 seasons. Oh, he's also got a World Series ring on his finger too. All things being equal, CC probably deserves to have his ST performance dissected just as much as Pineda's if not more given his role on the team. After all, Pineda has given up fewer runs and struck out more batters per 9 innings in his ST outings than CC has. But when you've got the kind of resume in New York that CC has, that pretty much takes equality out of the equation.
In a perfect world, Michael Pineda would probably be getting a little more credit for how well he's pitched this spring without his top-shelf velocity and CC would probably have a few more stories written about him and his command issues. That would be fair. But things are hardly ever fair in the world of the New York sports media and this is just the latest example. They've seen CC get the job done on a consistent basis over the past 3 seasons, they expect him to do the same this season regardless of how well or how poorly he pitches in Spring Training, and so he gets the free pass from them. Pineda doesn't have the track record in New York to fall back on, so he gets put through the meat grinder.
Perhaps we in the blogosphere, even those of us going to bat for Pineda
, are just as guilty of feeding this double standard by writing about Pineda and not about Sabathia. I know I'm not concerned at all about CC based on his ST performance and fully expect him to deliver this season just like he has the past 3. For better or worse, this is how it is in New York and Michael Pineda is finding that out firsthand. At least he can take solace in the fact that if he follows CC's path in his first couple years here, he'll never have to hear any griping about his fastball velocity in March ever again.