Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia cost himself a $500K bonus during today’s matchup against the Rays after he was ejected for plunking catcher Jesus Sucre in retaliatory fashion. As Steve Gardner of the USA Today details, Sabathia’s contract included incentive bonuses in the amount of $500K for eclipsing each of the 155, 165, 175, and 185 inning plateaus. As it stood, Sabathia, who sat at 54 pitches in the 6th inning of game in which the Yankees led 11-0, was a near sure bet to hit the first mark, standing just six outs from the total at the time of the incident, though later he confessed ignorance regarding the matter in a soirée with reporters. The 38-year-old, who’s earned upwards of $250MM in his MLB career, turned in another solid campaign for the Bombers this season, comfortably outperforming his peripheral marks (4.22 FIP, 4.28 SIERA) for the third consecutive year on the way to 3.77 ERA, all while posting his highest strikeout rate since 2012. Sabathia has already expressed a desire to pitch next season, and figures to be in line for a similar (one year, $10MM) deal to the one he inked before the ’18 campaign, should he choose to continue.
In other news from around the division…
- Chris Sale’s radar gun readings are sounding alarm bells in Boston, where the left-hander sat at a career low 90.1 MPH with his fastball in Wednesday’s outing against the Orioles, the fourth in a series of diminished-velocity starts since his return from the DL after a bout with left shoulder inflammation. For his part, Sale insists that a balky shoulder is not to blame, placing much of the onus on an out-of-sync lower body, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains in an information-packed overview of the situation. As Speier notes, Sale’s extension toward home plate has lessened a bit since his return from the disabled list, and is a good deal lower than the 6.19 ft average he established during his lights-out run of mid-summer. A correlation between the extension figures and Sale’s overall performance is somewhat murky, though it’s certainly a mark worth monitoring as the Red Sox enter the 2018 postseason on the heels of their most successful campaign in franchise history. Sale, whose $13.5MM option for 2019 will almost certainly be picked up before he hits Free Agency the following offseason, appears to have capped off a sensational 2018 campaign that saw the hurler post otherworldly marks across the board – his 1.97 FIP and 48 FIP- each rank in the top three in AL history during the live-ball era, and his 13.5 K/9 stands as the best total for a starter (min. 150 IP) since stats were first compiled in 1871.
- Marc Carig of the The Athletic dives deep into the Yankees bullpen and the manner in which it’s deployed in a fabulously detailed piece that’s unquestionably a must-read for all Pinstripe fanatics. The Yankee pen of ’18 ranks, per fWAR and K/9, as the best in baseball history, a fact that likely comes as little surprise to anyone who’s followed the incredible collection of talent assembled in the unit over the last few seasons. Notably, Carig also canvasses the depths to which the unit is influenced by new analytics, making particular mention of rookie manager Aaron Boone’s number-crunching preferences: Boone, it seems, has bucked convention by eschewing previous batter/pitcher history and platoon advantages in favor of new-wave proprietary data based primarily on pitch types, spin rates, and recent velocity totals while aiming to deploy the best possible arm for the situation. Though the Bombers have a firmly entrenched reputation as one of the league’s most data-hungry franchises, it no doubt helps to feature a cavalcade of relievers capable of setting down batters from both sides at almost any point throughout the game.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter, whose contract is set to expire at the end of a disastrous 2018 campaign, addressed his future status for the first time in an interview with reporters (link via Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com), praising the team for “how good they’ve been” and claiming that the uncertainty regarding his future job status is “[not that] difficult.” Showalter, who led the club through a series of overachieving campaigns in the middle part of the decade, sports a 668-681 record with the O’s since his start in 2010, and figures to be in high demand this offseason should the club decide to move on.