Sabathia threw a solid 3 pitch mix in 2019, with his changeup being used the most infrequently. Thrown just 12.2% of the time, the pitch averaged 83 mph and was predominantly used as a change of pace. Hitters did hit .294 off the pitch, albeit only for a wRC+ of 99 which means the pitch did not give up many extra based hits.
While the legend has lost a couple mph off his sinker over the years, he could still ramp it up to 92 mph when needed. Used mostly against lefties, it unfortunately was hit quite hard during his final season, allowing a .554 SLG against it.
Thrown almost 43% of the time, Sabathia leaned on his cutter in 2019 as he continued to see his velocity decline. However, the pitch wasn’t very effective as hitters slashed .273/.344/.547 off the pitch which generated a wRC+ of 143. Sabathia is transitioning to the broadcast booth for 2020, so take a good look at the final pitches of a likely HOF career.
His main offspeed pitch, Sabathia threw his slider approximately 30% of the time to the tune of a .241/.283/.511 slash line. He generated a K% of 33.3% compared to only a 5.4%, which is good for a BB/K ratio of 0.16. With a 31.6% chase rate, Sabathia often used his slider as an out pitch and was able to rack up 49 of his 104 strikeouts with the pitch.
Sabathia is all guts and guile at this point, and he rode his cutter to a 6.7 pVal in ’18. He bumped its swinging-strike rate to a solid 11.1%, but notably, he got batters to chase 33.3% of the time out of the zone. He kept its walk rate in check and hit the zone at a decent 53% rate. All in all, it was the pitch’s best showing since he turned to it full time in 2016.
The 38-year-old’s slider wasn’t working for him last year, as it plummeted from a 7.3 pVal in ’17 to a -6.5 mark. It lost a little bend, its walk rate crept up to 10.6%, and its strikeout percentage dropped to a career low. His uninspiring swinging-strike and chase rates don’t indicate much will change in ’19, either.
It had been trending that way over the previous two seasons, but Sabathia’s sinker took even more of a back seat to his cutter in ’18, making up just 14% of his offerings. That was probably a good thing, too, as it fell well below average in terms of horizontal movement and didn’t find the zone nearly enough at 46.4%. It still pulled in a 60.9% ground-ball rate, but this pitch has been getting worse for a few years now.
Though it gets more drop than fade these days, Sabathia’s changeup was an effective pitch in ’18. It carried a good 18.5% swinging-strike rate and an impressive 42.1% chase rate. He held batters to a .076 ISO with it, and everything translated into a 2.9 pVal. When he needed a whiff, this is where he went.