Andrew Perna. 13th August, 2011 - 12:29 pm
After breezing through the month of July, CC Sabathia has allowed 12 earned runs in his last 14 innings. Sabathia is winless in his last two starts and has an ERA of 5.73 in August.
He surrendered a record five home runs on Friday night against the Rays and has given up seven this month after allowing just six in the first four months of the season.
Much has been made about the struggles of A.J. Burnett, but Sabathia has been just as bad when you take into account how dominant he has been this summer.
In five July starts, Sabathia went 4-1 with a 0.92 ERA. He allowed just 18 hits in 39 innings, striking out 50 batters while allowing only 13 walks. Of the 129 outs he recorded, 39 were groundouts.
Through three starts in August, nearly half of his outs have been fly balls. He is not getting his pitches down and hitters are getting underneath the ball at an alarming rate.
In addition to fewer strikeouts and a lower groundball-to-strikeout ratio, Sabathia has been hammered by the bottom third of the order as of late.
On Friday night, Casey Kotchman, Kelly Shoppach and Elliot Johnson, Tampa Bay's seven, eight and nine hitters, all homered off Sabathia. The trio finished 3-for-10 against the big lefty, while Sean Rodriguez, who hit sixth, went two-for-four.
Meanwhile, the first through fifth hitters were 5-for-20 (.250) for the Rays.
In Sabathia's last three games, here is how each group of hitters in the opposing lineup has done against him:
First through third: 11-for-32 (.343)
Fourth through sixth: 8-for-33 (.242)
Seventh through ninth: 9-for-26 (.346)
A pitcher like Sabathia should be mowing down the bottom of the order, even in the deep American League.
His numbers over the course of the season look just as they should, with the bottom third of the order having the lowest batting average of the three groups.
First through third: 70-for-269 (.260)
Fourth through sixth: 53-for-230 (.230)
Seventh through ninth: 49-for-215 (.228)
There have been a myriad of problems in his last two starts, but Sabathia could start getting back on the Cy Young track by dominating the bottom third of the order just like he dominated entire lineups in the month of July.