Baltimore Orioles: Should the team go after CC Sabathia?
The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff was numerically ranked 27th in the MLB. In the American League, only the Detroit Tigers were worse.
If the Baltimore Orioles want to build a respectable pitching rotation, they will need to find pitchers who can consistently pitch unhittable strikes.
The Orioles had pitchers who could throw strikes, but they were very easy to hit. Which is why the overall team pitching stats were so bad.
Team pitching stats
According to ESPN.com, the Orioles team ERA was 4.97 in 1441.0 innings pitched. For comparison, the team with the best pitching, the Cleveland Indians, had a team ERA of 3.30. The Detroit Tigers finished last with an ERA of 5.36. The Seattle Mariners were 15th with an ERA of 4.46.
The New York Yankees surprisingly finished 5th in the MLB with an ERA of 3.72, only .02 behind the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees reached this spot on the list with solid pitching from none other than CC Sabathia, who just happens to be a free agent when the World Series is finished.
The numbers on Sabathia
Sabathia is one of the highest paid athletes in the MLB, but his immense contract with the Yankees is over as soon as their unexpected playoff run is over (hopefully tonight). In 2017, he made $25 million. But, in his nine seasons with the Yankees, he made over $205 million.
Midway through the 2018 season, the 6’6, 300-pound Sabathia will have his 38th birthday. Taking his past contracts, his stats, and his age and size, should the Orioles pursue this Cy-Young winning, All-Star pitcher? Even if it’s just for a single season? Maybe.
If the Orioles do decide to pursue him, Dan Duquette will have to bid high. Although, probably not $25 million high. Maybe something in the low teens. And, this is only because Sabathia has been a monster in the post-season.
Pitching for a new contract
It is quite clear that Sabathia is in a contract year. In his five previous seasons, Sabathia has struggled to get close to a 4.00 ERA. In 2013 and 2014, he could not get below a 5.00. In fact, in many of his years with the Yankees, his numbers would have fit well with the 2017 Orioles pitching stats.
But not in 2017. He finished the regular season with an ERA of 3.87, which is close to the numbers he had when he received Cy Young votes back in his prime. He is clearly showing signs of age, having pitched only 148.2 innings. When he won his Cy Young ten years ago, he pitched 241 innings and had an ERA of 3.51 and a WAR of 6.3. In 2008, he pitched 253 innings. That is practically unheard of today.
More from Orioles News
- Baltimore Orioles Sign RP Mychal Givens
- Gunnar Henderson: Destroyer of Four-Seam Fastballs
- Which Current Baltimore Orioles Pitchers Have the Best Curveballs?
- Orioles News: Should the O’s Pursue Eovaldi? + More MLB News
- Should the Baltimore Orioles Consider Signing Nathan Eovaldi?
Plus post-season performances
Does he still have life left in his arm? He sure does. His play-off appearances this season have proved it. In his two games in the ALDS the Cleveland Indians, he threw 9.2 innings and finished with a 3.72 ERA. But, in his one game in the ALCS against the Houston Astros he did not give up any runs in six innings. He gave up three hits and walked four batters in the ALCS.
Like all aging pitchers, Sabathia has had to reinvent himself. His fastball is no longer “fast” by today’s standards. At an average of 91.9 MPH (according to Fangraphs), Sabathia has a very hittable fastball. But, his slider, which he throws at an average of 79 MPH, is tough for hitters to put into play. At Sabathia’s age, it’s all about placement and movement. And, at his age, his pitches have both.
Next: Where will Wade Miley pitch in 2018?
Sabathia’s performance in the final game of the ALCS could play a major factor in what happens to him in the off-season. With a win, his stock could rise and he could see teams get into bidding wars over him. On the flip side, if the Astros take him to town, the opposite could happen.