sabathia september

CC Sabathia is learning a cutter

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CC Sabathia has a new trick in his bag:

Andy Pettitte did more than simply watch CC Sabathia’s bullpen session on Monday.

The guest instructor actively instructed, primarily helping to teach Sabathia a cut fastball, something the Yankees’ ace hopes to add to his repertoire this season.

“He was showing me a grip with the cutter,” Sabathia said after throwing a four-inning simulated game indoors at Steinbrenner Field because of heavy rain Thursday morning. “I used it today and it worked pretty good, so I’m anxious to take it into a game.”

I don’t know how pitching works, really. Not in any in-depth way. Pitchers do. Pitching coaches do. Guys that study hard-core pitching analytics and mechanics do. But most of the rest of us are just making observations that are pretty shallow to the experts. He throws these pitches, his velocity is whatever, he’s effective/not effective. That kind of thing.

All of that said, I wonder how it is that a guy can pitch 13 years in the bigs and then just, one day, say “I’m going to add a new pitch.” I gather that’s because it’s hard to master a new pitch and that they have enough other things to work on, but at the same time, when they talk about the new pitch they added, it’s always a story like this: teammate or drop-in instructor like Pettitte here showing them the grip, them doing it a bit and then — voila — new pitch. If it’s that easy, why don’t pitchers all have a crap-ton of pitches? If it’s not, why is it always reported this way?

My guess: if we went back and looked at all the “So-and-so adds a new pitch” stories for the past decade, we’d find that the new pitch wasn’t really added. That, while it may be featured in a spring game or three, it rarely if ever shows up in their regular season repertoire.  That it’s a fancier version of a BSOHL story at the least, a head-game thing for opposing hitters at the most.

But if guys really do just learn new pitches like this and work them in more often than I suspect, man, why aren’t all the pitchers adding cutters and changeups and eephus pitches all the time?

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.