The worst part about the opening day is the overreactions. Eric covered this in more depth last night, but Derek Lowe is probably not going to maintain a FIP sub-1 for the entire season, Brandon Webb and Aaron Cook are actually good pitchers, and CC Sabathia will not be a puddle of suck for the longevity of his contract.
Despite what Joe Morgan stated, Sabathia’s velocity was fine. Sabathia’s average fastball touched just over 93 miles per hour, and topped out at 95. Over the last three seasons, Sabathia’s average fastball velocities are 93.7, 92.9, and 93.7. Either Morgan was unaware and fabricating excuses for the Yankees’ new ace, or he simply has no idea how hard Sabathia normally throws.
In fact, the only slight difference between Sabathia yesterday and Sabathia of yesteryear was pitch usage; ~59% fastballs (right around average), 28% sliders (a tick above normal), 12% change-ups (a tick below) and one curveball. Oh, and yes, those velocities were all in check as well. Everything moved as it should, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, look below and guess which pitches are from yesterday and which are from Sabathia’s best start last season – as determined by WPA.
Yesterday’s pitches are those in pink. Yes, there are a few straighter than usual fastballs, but otherwise the clusters seem to have a lot of overlap. So, Sabathia’s velocity and pitch movement were nearly identical to last year, but he had some issues with command during his debut in pinstripes and in a sub-60 degree temperature.
Sabathia will be fine, the same cannot be said for those flocking to the nearest bridge.