Monday, March 4, 2013

Slowed Down Spring For CC Continues, And It's Downright Brilliant

(No, that's not CC reacting to pain in his left elbow.  And that's a good thing)

I jumped on the "reducing CC Sabathia's workload" bandwagon early, like as soon as the Yankees announced plans to do that this season.  I became a card-carrying member of the "I Support Reducing CC's Workload Club" two weeks ago when he threw his first bullpen of the spring, a signal that the Yankees were taking the efforts to reduce his workload seriously.  And I'm putting down money for the official club t-shirt after finding out last Thursday that the Yankees have pushed CC's first spring start back to March 15th.  Chad Jennings had the details last week, which included Joe's desire to not have CC face the Blue Jays as scheduled on March 10th.  As a result, Sabathia will throw another simulated game on the 10th, make his first official ST start on the 15th, and end up with only three total ST outings under his belt before taking the hill on Opening Day.

If my math is correct, and as someone who had to cheat his way to a D in Calc II my first semester at UConn there's always the chance that it isn't, CC has had just three "real" pitching sessions this spring: his first bullpen on February 18th, a second bullpen session the following Saturday, and his 46-pitch, 2-inning sim game last Thursday.  He's come through all three sessions feeling good, and the 46 pitches last Thursday are a sign that he's feeling good enough to up his pitch count, but kudos to the Yankees for sticking with their decelerated plan for CC this spring.  Joe basically spelled it out as well as anybody could with this statement:

“We don’t want them to start too many games down here because then you’re using innings that you would use during the season.  You can control their pitch count (in a sim game). You can control things a lot easier, and they’re still getting built up. The key is to get them built up."

The "them" he's referring to includes Mo and Andy Pettitte, pitchers who have been on their own decelerated ST plans for years now.  CC joined that exclusive group after having his elbow surgery this offseason, and already being a 32-year-old pitcher with heavy mileage on his arm, the timing couldn't have been better.  At this stage in his career, he doesn't need to throw a lot of pitches in ST to get ready for the regular season regardless of what kind of shape his elbow is in.  The surgery and rehab makes the Yankees' plans to reduce his spring workload all the more easy to justify, but this plan was already in CC's and the team's best interests.  By limiting the amount of pitches and innings he throws in camp, the Yankees can have an easier time doing the same thing in the early part of the regular season, almost using April as the Extended ST I referenced in an earlier post.  If your goal is to control your ace pitcher's workload for a season, this is how you go about doing it.

Cutting down on a pitcher's innings count early in the season when the games mean nothing or aren't as important as late-season/postseason games so he can be fresh, not as burnt out, and presumably able to pitch deeper into those more important late-season/postseason games?  It's the perfect plan.  So inspired, so devious, yet so simple.  Why hasn't anybody thought of this before??

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