Here’s a fun game. Try to guess which will be the higher amount. The USA men’s basketball’s point total from this morning’s gold medal game at the Olympics or CC Sabathia’s pitch count from this afternoon’s start against the Pirates. For the record, Team USA averaged 104.6 points entering the game against Spain, while Sabathia is at 112.8 pitches per outing since going to Milwaukee.
Here’s a fun game. Try to guess which will be the higher amount.
The USA men’s basketball’s point total from this morning’s gold medal game at the Olympics or CC Sabathia’s pitch count from this afternoon’s start against the Pirates.
For the record, Team USA averaged 104.6 points entering the game against Spain, while Sabathia is at 112.8 pitches per outing since going to Milwaukee.
The Brewers took some fire earlier this week for leaving Sabathia in to finish off Monday’s 9-3 win against Houston. Leading 9-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, with Sabathia already at 111 pitches, the Brewers sent him back out. Sabathia wasn’t done until he had thrown an eyebrow-raising 130 pitches, which are the most in his eight-year career.
“He showed he’s a horse,” Astros Manager Cecil Cooper told The Associated Press. “I guess they’re going to hitch their wagon to him and just ride him off into the sunset.”
It was Sabathia’s fifth complete game in nine starts since coming to Milwaukee in a July trade with Cleveland for power hitter Matt LaPorta and other prospects.
The Brewers, who have a nearly zero chance of signing the impending free agent after the season, deny they’re treating Sabathia like a rental car that they only hope to return in one piece.
Their argument is based around the pitches thrown per inning, which they point out slightly less than 14 for Sabathia.
It’s the high-pitch innings, their logic goes, where the real damage is done. If a pitcher is staying away from the 20, 25, 30-pitch innings, then the Brewers are more apt to keep him out there and save the bullpen.
“There’s no abuse going on,” Brewers Manager Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s a plan that I’m looking at and put into play so that it not only takes care of our starters and gets them deep into games but our bullpen, too.
“I’m not saying my plan is 100 percent right. But my plan is well thought-out and makes sense, and we’re trying it. I have to do what I think is best. I want to make darn sure this team has the best opportunity to win. I know everything there is to know in the equation.”
Maybe Milwaukee is on to something. According to Baseball-Reference.com, opposing hitters are batting just .185 off Sabathia after he reaches 100 pitches.
Still, sending Sabathia back to the mound with a seven-run cushion is questionable, especially since the big lefty is nearing the 200-inning mark for the season and famously faded in the playoffs last season.
Sabathia reached the 120-pitch mark twice in his last 55 starts with the Indians dating back to the beginning of his Cy Young season last year. He’s done it three times already with Milwaukee.
An NL scout told ESPN’s Peter Gammons that “CC was really laboring in that ninth inning (Monday). It was very clear.”
“Never once did he labor,” Yost said. “Where he labored was the Chicago game. Those are the starts that wear on you.”
Sabathia threw 124 pitches in only 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs on July 28.
Sabathia’s former manager, Cleveland’s Eric Wedge, didn’t want to comment on the situation, but did offer some insight about how the Indians handled Sabathia’s workload.
“We work hard to not put anybody in harm’s way,” Wedge said. “Whether it be CC, or Cliff (Lee) or (Jake) Westbrook or whoever’s starting for us, (Fausto) Carmona or one of the younger kids, we handle it the way we handle it. We work off how many days off he’s had, his previous outing, his previous three outings, how hard he’s working on that particular day or how easy, what kind of weather we’re having. There are a number of different things to enter into it. It’s as much a feel things as putting the numbers into it.”
Yost, who is giving his starters extra rest by not skipping spots in the rotation on days off, maintains he could never knowingly jeopardize a player’s health.
“I respect him as a player. I respect him as a person,” Yost said. “He’s got a family. I know how this business works. He has to provide for his family. I would never do anything that would take away from that ability. I just couldn’t live with myself.
“(Sabathia) is not a dope. He’s a real smart guy. He knows the ramifications of what it’s like to be abused. There’s nowhere that he’s been abused since he’s been here.”
Reach Repository sports writer Josh Weir at (330) 580-8426 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org