Milestone Watch: Will CC Sabathia Hit 3000 K’s vs. Diamondbacks Tonight?
At the end of the 2018 season, CC Sabathia stood at 246 Wins and 2986 Strikeouts. As there were rumors about a potential retirement after the seasons end, Sabathia resigned with the Yankees on a 1-Year/$8 Million deal, with two goals in mind:
250 Wins to be the 48th most pitcher wins in MLB history & 13th for Left-Handed pitchers
3000 Strikeouts for 17th in MLB History* & 3rd All-Time for LHP* (*CC is already 17th Overall and 3rd LHP on the Strikeout list.)
As we head into another Sabathia start this evening against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he is currently sitting at 247 Wins and 2997 strikeouts.
As 250 Wins is literally unobtainable in this game, lets try and predict, inning-by-inning, if/when CC Sabathia hits the 3000 K milestone tonight. (CC has also stated that he wants to also hit a home run tonight, although I can’t predict those odds.)
(It seems like these guys like to Strikeout a bunch!)
As the projected lineups have yet to come out on MLB.com, via ESPN, they do have a Pitcher vs. Batter quick stat line you can find for how they have played against players on the opposing team. For CC Sabathia, that can be found here.
Using this, we can see that 9 players currently on the Diamondbacks roster have batted against CC Sabathia at one point in their careers. Taking this data, and using the starting line-up that the Diamondbacks used against the Cubs on Sunday afternoon, we can find that 4 batters overlap. Lets quickly look at their splits against CC:
Adam Jones (RF): .289/.320/.522 over 90 AB with 11 K’s and 5 BB.
Ketel Marte (CF): .400/.400/.400 over 5 AB with 1 K and 0 BB’s.
Eduardo Escobar (3B): .286/.286/.357 over 14 AB with 2 K’s and 0 BB’s.
Wilmer Flores (2B): .600/.600/1.200 over 5 AB with 0 K’s and 0 BB’s.
the remaining 5 batters have combined for a .240 BA over 50 AB with 18 K’s and 3 BB’s.
As a team this year, the Diamondbacks are averaging 8.97 SO/Game, or about 1 K per 4 AB (per 4.47 PA).
What about CC Sabathia’s Pitching?
Now that we know, against the normal pitcher, it should be expected that CC Sabathia would hit 3 K’s on the game (and 3000 total) around the 3rd inning.
CC Sabathia over the past three seasons (given only 3 starts this year, we’re going to need to use more accurate data), has averaged about 5.1 innings per start around a 7.7 K/9 (271 K’s in 316.2 IP).
Using some quick math, we can use those stats to also say that per start, CC Sabathia is averaging between 4.37 (using K/9) or 4.59 (using K/GS) strikeouts.
So, given a completely normal game, it should be expected that CC Sabathia is able to obtain the 3000 K milestone tonight. However, I want to be a little crazy, and try and predict in which inning it will occur.
Bottom of the 1st:
The Diamondbacks are likely to have a line-up close to as I linked to earlier from their Sunday game against the Cubs. We will be using that, except we will be replacing Luke Weaver with tonight SP Zack Greinke.
In the first inning of a game, Sabathia’s K/IP is 0.911. So, it could be expected that one batter gets rung up on strikeouts.
The benefit to CC as well is that the top 3 batters in the line-up for the Diamondbacks looks to be three players he has faced before as well in Adam Jones, Ketel Marte, and Eduardo Escobar.
Respectively, the rates for a K in the 1st inning for each player is 0.167, 0.155, and 0.174. These seem like really low numbers, but added together come out to 0.497 or almost exactly half. This means that theoretically, in about half of all games that those three lead the line-up, at least 1 should strikeout.
There is also a .321 odds that one of the three reaches base. Given this, the clean-up hitter David Peralta would be expected to bat, adding his own K/1st Inning rate of 0.205 to the table.
In the first inning, we’ll give Sabathia 1 strikeout as well as a batter reaching. The count is at 2998.
Bottom of the 2nd:
The next three batters would be Christian Walker (.150 K/2nd Inning Rate), Wilmer Flores (.140), and Nick Ahmed (.215). Totaling a .505 K in the 2nd Inning odds, on top of a collective OBP of .273.
In the second inning of a game, Sabathia’s K/IP is 0.942. So, it could be expected that one batter gets rung up on strikeouts. However, I’m going to play devils advocate and say that CC won’t record a strikeout here.
We’ll play it safe here, and say that CC gets through the inning in 3 batters, but none of them will strikeout.
Bottom of the 3rd:
The last two batters in the line-up would now be Carson Kelly (.077) and Zack Greinke (.225), with Adam Jones (0.177).
In the third inning of a game, Sabathia’s K/IP is 0.787. So, it wouldn’t be as expected that one batter gets rung up on strikeouts.
However, with the pitcher batting in this spot, I personally believe that the chance of a strikeout is much higher, so I will be expecting CC to hurl his 2nd K of the game during the 3rd inning.
I do expect at least one hitter to get on, however, but I am expecting CC to make it relatively easily through 3 innings. It’s at this point that trying to predict who each hitter will be gets quite difficult.
2 K’s down, 1 to go.
Bottom of the 4th Inning:
CC will get his 3000th career strikeout this inning.
I won’t attempt to predict who the batters this inning will be, but I firmly believe it will happen in the 4th. In the fourth Sabathia’s K/IP runs back up to a very good 0.854, and being only 1 K away is going to internally fire him up to get somebody this inning.
Using some crazy mathematics based off of how CC Sabathia has pitched against certain batters in the Diamondbacks lineup through their careers, as well as relative strikeout rates per inning for Sabathia and each batter, I have come to the prediction that 3000 K’s will be reached in the 4th inning.
Using some crazy wizardry, I’m going to predict it will happen in the bottom of the 4th inning, with a man on second, 1 out, and from a 0-2 count (after the last pitch was a foul ball also on a 0-2 count) to David Peralta.