During spring training CC Sabathia had struggled. It looked like we would see the same Sabathia that we had seen of the previous four years. After an impressive start tonight all that changed. Sabathia went five innings, gave up three hits, walked and struck out batters. Their were tons of positives but also a few negatives to go along with it.
It's known for sure that Sabathia will not be that ace that he was when the Yankees first signed him. This doesn't matter anymore as Masahiro Tanaka has filled that role. The Yankees will have two rookie starting pitchers and entering the season their were questions about Pineda and Sabathia. We have not yet seen Pineda but we have seen Sabathia. The results were very unexpected.
First of all allowing no runs is a major plus to start it off. Then we see that he only allowed 3 hits and it showed that he really did dominate. One reason he pitched this well was because towards the end of last season he went to rehab to cure his alcohol addiction. This made him healthier and most likely took a big chip off his solider. Even before rehab his 2016 season was better than 2013-15. Up until the middle of the season he had an ERA in the 2's. His success in 2016 was because of his knee brace which put less pressure on him and his knee.
This brings us to the questions will his 2017 be a success like he showed tonight? It depends on what you call success but by Sabathia's standards it will be. At this point in his career Sabathia can be a guy who is a veteran leader and a decent pitcher. Sabathia should rely more on his stuff especially his cutter which since he lost his velocity that should be his main focus (my prediction for Sabathia is 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA).
These results are slightly better than his 2016 season but the changes that he made should be enough to make these predictions realistic. For other teams this would be a solid number 3-4 starter. For the Yankees he will be a number 2 and all the Yankees really need is an innings eater as they will be a hitting heavy team. The same results will be expected from Michael Pineda. If Sabathia can pitch 175 innings that would still be a plus as the Yankees don't have the depth. Hopefully these changes are enough to help Sabathia in 2017.
Sabathia and a few other pitchers combined to shutout the Rays in the team's first win of the 2017 season, 5-0.