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Big League Stew

Larry Bowa wants CC Sabathia to ‘get back after those burgers,’ regain the weight he lost

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

For CC Sabathia, a return to dominance is just a few trips to the drive-thru away.

Or at least it is if you believe MLB Network commentator Larry Bowa. The ex-player and manager said on Wednesday that he believes Sabathia's offseason weight loss is to blame for his decreased performance on the mound this season. The 33-year-old pitcher is 9-10 with a 4.73 ERA and just 133 strikeouts through 24 starts in 2013. He's on pace for one of the worst seasons of his career and he recently declared "I suck" after one particularly bad outing.

Bowa, though, thinks he knows what the problem is and that it has everything to do with his calorie count. Here's what he said on MLB Tonight on MLB Network:

"To me, personally, I think he's lost too much weight. I really do. And I've seen some big pitchers pitch. I could care less how much they weigh ... I like those guys that are big guys, that could drive off those legs. I want CC to put that weight back on. look at how skinny this guy looks right now. C'mon CC, get back after those burgers because I know you can do it. This guy is a big time pitcher and for them to get to the playoffs, he has to respond."

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Bowa's take is blunt and seems like a big catch-22 considering Sabathia and the Yankees' brass felt a drop in weight was necessary after he was hampered by injuries in 2012. But he's far from the only one who's been saying this. Spend any of Sabathia's bad starts on Twitter and you'll hear fans saying a trip to the buffet line or two wouldn't hurt the Yankees ace.

The success of other portly pitchers like Gaylord Perry, David Wells and even Sabathia for much of his career fuels this belief. But there may actually be an underlying physics problem when it comes to Sabathia's relatively svelte frame.

Here's what one scout told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe last weekend:

“The weight loss has created a balance problem for him,“ said one talent evaluator. “He’s all over the place. He’s learning how to pitch in that body, a body he’s really never had. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him other than that. Sometimes you pitch at a certain weight all your life and then someone has the brilliant idea that you should lose weight because it’s putting stress on your knees, you do it, and then you’re dealing with something else.”

Of course, none of this mentions the other and probably more applicable reason for Sabathia's struggles and that's the over 2,700 career innings he's carrying on that left arm. Only four other pitchers whose careers started after 1975 — Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Frank Viola and Dave Stieb — have logged at least that many innings by age 33.

The reality: Sabathia is likely more tired than he is hungry.

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