But Sabathia is so assured and confident on the mound that even when he gets in a jam, as was rare last night, there is the clear sense that he is in charge and he literally wills the out.
On January 18, Sabathia spoke to the MLB Network and said:
“Last year, we were the team that everybody loved, that feel-good story,” Sabathia said Thursday on MLB Network. “But getting Giancarlo [Stanton] just brings us back to being that hated team. That’s what we like. We want to go out there, put the best team on the field and crush everybody every game.”
I keep coming back to this statement again and again this season when I think of Sabathia. This is spoken like a true leader—a battle-ready one at that. It cries out for his teammates to take up the cause and follow him in crushing “everybody every game.”
He leads the way with elite performances, such as the 2-1 gem he put together last night against the Angels, giving up five hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 1 run, 1 wild pitch—only throwing 97 pitches.
Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports said of Sabathia:
“Sabathia has turned himself into a pitcher — I’d even say he’s crafty now — working the corners and working his way into year three of a lovely late career renaissance with the Yankees that could very well put the icing on the cake of a Hall of Fame career.”
Sabathia could arguably be the ace of this staff with his 1.71 ERA in five games with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Luis Severino‘s ERA of 2.62 in six games seems bloated by comparison.
Sabathia also showed his passion in last night’s game when home plate umpire Angel Hernandez and he exchanged words after the third inning. Sabathia was reported by Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports to have said to Hernandez “Don’t talk to me. Call f–king strikes.”
When asked what the heated exchange between he and Hernandez was about, Sabathia replied: “Thought I was throwing strikes.”
To me this demonstrates Sabathia’s “big dog presence” in the game, which he told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News back in January he wanted to establish:
“We want that big-dog presence back where we can go out and try to beat everybody every night.”
Sabathia has a take-no-prisoners attitude, a big presence on and off the mound, and a successful start to power this team forward this season.