The Yankees have the Astros right where they want ’em, right? Down 2-0, it’s deja vu all over again as Yogi Berra would say, with the ole man trudging to the hill to save his team. It’s not a Hollywood script; it’s playoff baseball.
Once again, the Yankees turn to 37-year old, CC Sabathia, to turn a playoff series around for them. I’ve said it once, check that, I’ve said it twice, and I’ll say it again. CC Sabathia, more than any Yankees starter, is the right man for this job and he will see it gets done.
And that’s because Sabathia is a pitcher in every sense of the word. He doesn’t get hitters out; he lets them get themselves out. And therein is all the difference in the world between a pitcher and a thrower.
It doesn’t mean Sabathia has it on cruise control and he doesn’t have to expend the same amount of energy a thrower might. In fact, he works harder because his head is in the game as much as his arm.
No one should have surprised when Joe Girardi arranged his staff for the ALCS by moving Sonny Gray to Game 4. And hopefully, Gray has a perch at the top of the dugout steps, and he is watching a master at work when Sabathia is pitching. There’s no way, for instance, Sabathia will walk four batters as Gray did in his ill-fated start against the Indians in the ALDS.
And it’s merely that Sabathia won’t let that happen. Instead, he relies on pitch selection and the location of every pitch he makes. If the location of a pitch is off, there will be damage done because nowadays, a 91mph fastball is like taking batting practice for most major league hitters.
The trick is, of course, that Sabathia rarely makes those mistakes. Eventually, Sonny Gray will learn and join the ranks of veteran pitchers in the game like Sabathia, and for that matter Justin Verlander, who hurled a masterpiece last night in the Astros 2-1 win over the Yankees.
And perhaps, it’s Andy Pettite who has the pulse on Sabathia best:
As for the Yankees, they have their work cut out for them. They’re coming home, and the raucous crowds at Yankee Stadium will make their presence known. The codewords for the 2017 Yankees have been resilience and cohesiveness. And there’s no reason not to believe the Yankees have the Astros right where want them.