Monday, September 03, 2007

A New Sheriff in Town

Twice in the past five days, C.C. and The Great Santana have squared off against each other, with the Crooked Cap besting the 2-time Cy Young winner both times, winning 4-3 last Wednesday and 5-0 Monday afternoon. Perhaps in the last week, we have all witnessed a changing of the guard in regards to the top starter in the AL Central, and possibly in all of the American League.

Before the cries of blasphemy and homerism start, consider the numbers of C.C. over his past 10 starts:
2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 4.25 K for every BB (51 K to 12 BB)

Did I mention that he hasn’t given up more than 2 ER in any of those 10 starts with 8 of the 10 being 7 innings or longer, all coming with the Indians making a giant push for the playoffs?

C.C. is now tied for the AL lead in Wins with 16, leads the AL in Innings Pitched with 219, is 6th in the AL in ERA at 3.24, and is 4th in the AL in K with 182. Granted, Santana comes in above the Hefty Lefty in ERA and K; but with the Indians in the pennant race, C.C. has put the team on his back and has given the Indians a chance to win every game he has started (assuming they can score 3 runs, which is no given) over the last month and a half.

Santana now sits at 0-5 against the Tribe, with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 6 starts against the Featherheads. Obviously, some of the onus falls on the Twins’ offense for not getting Santana a W, but the Indians’ hitters (Jhonny Peralta excluded) seem to have figured out the once-unhittable Johan.

But that’s bound to happen anytime a pitcher logs 5 decisions against a team in one year, right? The hitters get a chance to see how a pitcher approaches different situations, have seen the arsenal of pitches, and can adjust to the idiosyncrasies of the pitcher.

If that’s the case, explain how C.C. is now 4-1 against the boys from the Land of 10,000 Lakes with a 1.51 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Again, some of that falls on the hitters for the Twinkies, but it shows how C.C. has embraced the adjustments that the elite pitchers in the league have mastered. While the Twins have seen the aCCe in 5 starts, they either have yet to make the proper adjustments to hit him or C.C. has stayed a step ahead of them, mixing his pitches and keeping hitters off-balance.

Whatever the case is, confidence in the Tribe ace grew as the games wore on in both Sabathia-Santana match-ups and the feeling that the Indians used to face (utter hopelessness) when drawing the Johan straw from the Minnesota pool settled into the Minnesota dugout.

That feeling of hopelessness found in the Twins’ clubhouse cannot be unique to the AL Central rivals though as it must be the same feeling that permeates AL lineups when the 290 pounds (plus about…oh…35 pounds) that is C.C. strides to the mound this year.

C.C. may not have a chance to go for 20 wins this year, depending upon how the last week of the season shakes out and how the Indians want to (fingers double-crossed) set up their playoff rotation. But Sabathia has undeniably taken the step that we’ve been waiting for.
He’s an ace. And a homegrown one at that.

Save all of the talk about contracts and trades and MTV Cribs for a while.
The Indians are in a pennant race (sitting pretty at 6 games up) and their aCCe is making a statement throughout the league every time he takes the ball.


Voltaire said...

Mmm...C.C. still has to turn in three straight Santana season while Santana disintegrates before he can claim the mantle of best in the league. But best in the central down the stretch in '07? I agree. C.C.

Did you see that the mailbag this week included a reader asking that Asdrubal be nicknamed? The columnist invited suggestions, so I sent in "Asdrubal". In the interest of fair play, I thought I'd let you know, though I'm sure you've already read it.

Paul Cousineau said...

Certainly not meant to imply that C.C.'s resume matches that of Santana.

But if I had to choose between Santana and Sabathia (in my dream world) to pitch one game down the stretch during the playoff push, the answer is certainly not as easy as it was at the beginning of the season...and I honestly think I'd take C.C.

At the very least, they're in the same conversation and C.C. has gained considerable ground on Johan in terms of where they are today.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Something I forgot to mention. If anyone missed Hamilton calling the end of Friday's game, I highly recommend going back and giving it a listen. The call on Garko's grounder started off routine, with a hint of disappointment and ended with "AND THE GOOD LORD IS AN INDIANS FAN TONIGHT!!!!!" My wife almost had a heart attack as I barreled down the turnpike, pumping my fists and screaming.

The Rally Pie shirt is money, I picked mine up on Sunday. I almost picked up a 3 foot tall chief wahoo bobble head, but I couldn't justify the $325 price tag.

And anyone that was there Sunday, did you not firmly believe that the Indians would come back and win when the scoreboard was asking for noise as the Indians came to bat and then the Air Force Thunderbird's came screaming out of nowhere to the crowds delight?

Voltaire said...

Man, I gotta get me a rally pie shirt. When does the Tribe get back? I know I could just look it up, but I don't want to. It won't be tonight. :(

Let's go Tribe!

Voltaire said...

Since I'm sure Mark Shapiro reads this blog, Mark, WHY didn't you call up Matt Miller in the latest group? WHAT has he done to you? Or not done? Being an amazing reliever isn't good enough?

Why, oh why, Mark? We really need the bullpen help, right now!

t-bone said...

I didn't realize this until I looked up his stats, but here's one possibility for Miller:

Month - ERA - OAvg
May - 1.67 - .214
June - 0.00 - .136
July - 0.84 - .156
August - 5.06 - .275

All his other situational numbers are amazing, with the exception of those August numbers. Maybe he just flat out broke down?

Baltimoran said...

great comments by the Twins t.v. announcers. they caught hafner's mom in the stands (with a Pronk t-shirt). Blyleven says "I see the resemblence" (mama pronk looks like an over 50 yr. old North Dakotian farm mother would look like)...there is a long pause as both announcers seem to be trying to figure out if they insulted mama Pronk or Hafner himself...after his partner says nothing, Blyleven finally blurts out "In the eyes"

t-bone said...