Lest we get ahead of ourselves, let's not pretend like conquering the Oakland Athletics offense is any task that's usually impossible to complete. On any of our best days, we might throw eight innings of one-hit ball while the A's wave meekly at our pitches.
Nonetheless, it's understandable why it seems like New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia(notes) is being championed in the Big Apple press this morning for doing just that in a 5-0 sweep-sealing victory over the guys in green on Thursday afternoon.
The citywide applause is — or at least, should be — more of an endorsement of Sabathia again showing himself as the rock of the Yankees' bi-polar and high-priced rotation.
His game log isn't littered with landmines like A.J. Burnett's.(notes) His postseason status isn't in doubt like Andy Pettitte's.(notes) He's not crawling toward the finish line like Phil Hughes(notes), nor does he lack the ability to produce results in New York like Javier Vazquez(notes). He's the guy who's earning his $160 million contract, at least as much as anyone can really earn $160 million for throwing fastballs.
The one stat that's being rolled out across the board is the fact that Sabathia is 16-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last 21 starts at Yankee Stadium, a stretch that dates back to the 2009 All-Star break. This season, he's now 19-5 with a 3.02 ERA. One more victory and he'll have his first 20-win season of his career, which would finally make him a member of the Black Aces. He'd be the first new member since Dontrelle Willis(notes) joined up in 2005.
Does Sabathia have a shot at his second Cy Young award? Probably not if Felix Hernandez(notes) avoids going into a Cliff Lee(notes)-like slump over this last month. But who knows what can happen? If Sabathia puts up five more strong starts and lowers that ERA past a few more guys (he's currently sixth in the AL), perhaps the voters will give him stronger consideration. At the very least, it'll spark debates on the true value of wins, the strength of competition and what premium is placed on winning in the New York market.
Whatever the result, the Yankees didn't sign Sabathia to win Cy Youngs; they're paying him all that money to be the no-questions-asked leader of that staff in the postseason. And while his question-marked pitching mates might increase the volume of New York's Sabathia appreciation, it shouldn't distract the harder to impress from the fact that he's getting the job done.