JEFF: Early Returns
By Jeff Falconio
You could not have scripted a better beginning to the CC Sabathia Era. The powerful lefty went the distance again last night in a 9-1 victory for the Brewers. So in three starts, Sabathia is 3-0 but that hardly scratches the surface when you talk numbers. Sabathia hurled another complete game last night, his second with the Crew. In 24 innings he has struck out 24 batters while walking only six for a very impressive 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sprinkle in a 1.88 ERA and an anemic WHIP of 0.96.
Well, you get the point with all the stats, Sabathia has been nothing short of dominant. Now he won't get you a complete game every time and it's likely he'll end the season with an ERA closer to 3.00 or so but what Sabathia has done and will continue to do is stabilize the rotation. Today's starter Ben Sheets has always been a bellwether but after that there's some gray area. Manny Parra has been solid but can he do it all year? Jeff Suppan is coming off the DL soon and he still needs to prove that he can be counted on. Of course, we all know how up-and-down Dave Bush and Seth McClung can be based on where the game is being played.
Last night was a perfect example of how consistent starting pitching is so important for a division contender. The Brewers left 18 men on base and struggled again with runners in scoring position. As such, the Brewers held a slim 2-0 lead after six innings. Normally you'd think, well you may need to dip into the bullpen soon and that sure has been an adventure lately. But with Sabathia cruising along the Brewers didn't need to worry about insurance runs. Four runs in the seventh ended any doubt. Ben Sheets can do it just about every time out there and now Sabathia can too. That lethal back-to-back punch should keep the Brewers in the mix for the rest of the season.