Winning 106 games against 71 losses in his big league career, Sabathia has been the victim of poor run support throughout his 2008 season. Compiling an ERA of 3.83 and leading the AL in strikeouts with 123, Sabathia's former team scored two runs or less in nine of his 18 starts.
In his first start as a Brewer in Miller Park, Sabathia got a three-run first inning home run from Ryan Braun that helped take the no run support weight off his shoulders, improving his career numbers at Miller Park to 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA with a 7-3 win Tuesday.
Despite the change in uniform, his pitching approach remained the same. Sabathia attempted to get ahead of Rockie hitters with his average 96 mph first-pitch fastballs and mixing in his slider and changeup. Among the 27 batters he faced Tuesday, he registered a first-pitch strike on 19 of those hitters – 15 on fastballs, three on sliders and one on a changeup.
Of the 18 outs he recorded, 16 came with Sabathia either ahead or even in the count with the majority coming on the first pitch or on 1-2 pitches.
Even though he was pitching with a lot of emotion, he labored in only two innings – the first and the sixth.
Throwing 97 pitches through six innings, he threw 19 pitches in the first (five batters), 12 in the second (three batters), 13 in the third (four batters), 15 in the fourth (five batters), seven in the fifth (three batters) and 31 in the sixth (seven batters).
Sabathia's strong athletic frame has led to his durability of being able to pitch deep into games while keeping his velocity high. In his eight-year career, he has thrown over 190 innings five times and seems to throw harder as the game wears on. Against his final batter, Sabathia hit 95 twice and struck out Brad Hawpe with a 96 mph fastball.
Although he was struggling with his command, Sabathia made most of his mistakes low in the zone, as none of the Rockies' five hits were particularly pounded hard and only two went for extra bases (doubles in the third and sixth).
His fastball ranged from 91 to 97 mph and was as advertised: minimal movement but tough to turn on. His slider (which he throws in the 82-87 range) is not amazing but when combined with his fastball, is nearly unhittable when he sets the batter up with the fastball.
Of the five strikeouts Sabathia had, three came on the slider after he threw a fastball the previous pitch. All three strikeouts with the slider were swinging strikeouts and he showed that he wasn't afraid to throw that pitch to a left-handed or right-handed hitter, as he threw 31 sliders on the night.
Brewer fans only got to see eight changeups from Sabathia, who was a little hesitant to throw the pitch for whatever reason. The changeup (thrown in the low 80s) adds another element to Sabathia's repertoire that makes him one of the best pitchers in the game.
Although he struggled with his command, Sabathia threw 57 strikes to 40 balls and of his five walks, three came on 3-2 pitches (the other two on four straight balls). Nevertheless, Sabathia made the necessary pitches when he had to, which is a good sign for Brewer fans that this new addition isn't going to shy away from anyone.