Parker: Sabathia, Verlander and the ever-vanishing fastball

From SABR member Bill Parker at Baseball Nation on July 29, 2013:

Everybody’s trying to fix CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.

Sabathia hasn’t recorded an out in the sixth inning since throwing a complete game on July 9; in three starts since, he’s thrown 14 innings and allowed 22 runs. His current 4.65 ERA would be the highest of his career by more than a quarter of a run, and his 87 ERA+ would be his first career trip below average (the park-adjusted league average is 100, which is also Sabathia’s previous career low). Things aren’t looking as dire for Verlander, but he’s given up 11 runs in 11 ⅔ innings since July 20, and his current 3.99 ERA and 107 ERA+ would both be his worst since his disastrous third season in 2008, when he came in at 4.84 and 92 after working through mechanical issues for months.

We’ve seen quite a few pieces about the struggles of those two, and we figure to see a whole lot more. You’ve probably heard about the drop in average fastball velocity — Verlander’s from over 95 miles per hour a few years ago down to around 93 today, Sabathia from a touch over 94 to about 91 — and the presumably-resultant drops in strikeout rates. Both have been workhorses for quite a while now, but both are still relatively young (Verlander turned 30 in February, Sabathia 33 last week). So this has been quite concerning, in certain corners.

You’ll see or have seen dozens of articles using the velocity drops (and the mountains of other data available to us through Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball and elsewhere) to analyze what’s going on with Sabathia and/or Verlander, and I think that’s (mostly) a very good thing. More information is better than less, and I always admire good-faith attempts to use that information in a reasonable way to teach us something we didn’t know before.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 29, 2013. Last Updated: July 29, 2013.