Thursday Morning Food For Thought: CC's Struggles With The Batting Order Are Mind Bottling

Sabathia vs TOR 2015 Besides the loss and the continued command struggles, the 2 stories to come out of CC Sabathia's latest start were the glaring lack of run support he's received and the incredibly difficult time he had dealing with the bottom of the Toronto order.  The run support isn't something CC has control over, so I'm not going to waste time and keystrokes discussing that.  How opposing hitters do against him is something he can control, to a degree, and last night was bizarro world in terms of effectiveness.

Against the top 4 spots in the lineup last night, 4 spots inhabited by 2 guys hitting at or around .300 and 2 of the most dangerous right-handed power hitters in the American League, Sabathia fared very well.  Those spots went a combined 1-12 against him with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.  Against the bottom 5, however, it was a different story.  That group went a combined 8-15 with 2 XBH and 2 K, including a 3-3 showing by someone named Chris Colabello and the Russell Martin home run.

Logic would dictate that a pitcher struggling with his command and his loss of velocity, especially a left-handed one, would get mauled by the top of the Toronto lineup and have an easier time against the lower half of the batting order.  That's not what happened at all for CC last night and that's a bit troubling.  Not only is CC's margin for error against really good and dangerous hitters like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion completely gone, now it appears as though he doesn't even have the stuff to get by against much lesser hitting competition.

And just to show that this isn't a 1-night problem, take a look at his batting lines against by batting order spot to date this season:

Sabathia vs Batting Order 2015

The 4 lowest OPS values against him are from the top 4 spots in the batting order while the 5 highest are from the bottom 5 spots.  Opposing team's #7 hitters are hitting .563/.588/.938 against Sabathia.  That's ridiculously good, like batting practice good.  The bottom 3 spots are hitting .378/.417/.667 overall.  That can't happen.

Of all the things we've seen relative to CC's decline, both visually and statistically, this might be the most troubling.  CC isn't just getting touched up and knocked around by teams, he's getting completely destroyed by the worst hitters on other teams.  I suppose you could play the SSS card here if you wanted to and suggest that this trend will even itself out over the course of the season, but as a fan it's difficult to look at those batting lines against from the 7-9 spots and feel good about where CC is going as a starter.