FOX MLB crew discusses Sabathia’s strategy for Game 7

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David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Keith Hernandez and Frank Thomas join Kevin Burkhardt to discuss CC Sabathia's strategy against Houston in Game 7.

- And what John was talking about, too. He's done it time and time again. He's been on the mound after Yankee losses, and he has just been amazing. I mean, check this out, OK? Can't do better. 10 and 0 this year--

HOST 1: Wow.

HOST 2: --with a 1.69 ERA. Last American League starter to be 10 and 0 after team's loss was Whitey Ford, 1961.

So I want to touch on what John Smoltz talked about there, Papi, you know, the location, working both sides of the plate. As a hitter, take us through what the Astros are going to be seeing tonight.

- Look, it seems like CC is every day leaving this at the edge. He is the kind of guy who now he has less velocity, so he-- it seems like every hitter looking for balance, out of balance when they are facing CC.

CC had the back door slider that, as a hitter, right-handed hitter, you see the pitch coming down here, and you give up on it, because you are never thinking that that ball is going to come back to the plate. Boone, that's what he did against the Astros the last game he pitched.

And then you go back to the cutter. That is-- it's a pitch that the minute you get this cutter right here, you're not thinking about this pitch out here. The minute you're thinking about you get this slider back here, you're not thinking about that cutter. Like, CC has so much room to get heated out, that it's unbelievable.

- Yeah, Papi, you know what? When he broke in, he was a mid 90s flamethrower. When you were facing him, 90% to 95% were fastballs. Tonight you're going to see exactly opposite. You're going to see about a 50% fastball, and then you're going to see the slider and the changeup.

His new arrow in his quiver is the cutter. And it's about the size of a No. 2 pencil. And he was taught that by Andy Pettitte.

This ball will come in and will cut and carve into the right-handed knuckles of the right-handed hitters. But Kevin, something to watch, Minute Maid is just like Fenway Park, maybe a little smaller. One of those cutters may be a cheap home run.

HOST 2: Yeah, those were [INAUDIBLE].

- I want you to explain the audience, what is the difference between CC now-- the CC now throwing the cutter than the CC that used to be [INAUDIBLE] 96 to 98, even 100 miles an hour?

- Yeah, it's a great question, Papi. When he broke in with Cleveland, and even with us early on in 2009, he threw 95 to 98. But think about a one-way highway, and he only used one lane. So as a hitter, it's very predictable. Now he's using three lanes. So the cutter that starts, even though it's 88 in this side of the highway lane, comes all the way across to here.

And one thing fans at home don't know-- let me put this thing right here-- once the ball's there, it disappears. So that's why late movement is so important, because you actually don't see it.

- [INAUDIBLE] has got a lot. He's a warrior. He's a big time pitcher. He's a big game pitcher.

One thing he will do is make guys uncomfortable at the plate. He will move your feet. That's very important in a game like this, because he wants you thinking, one way or the other, you can't control the whole plate against CC Sabathia.

That cutter is unbelievable now. I didn't face the cutter. I know how tough he was with a power fastball, big curveball, and a changeup. And what makes his curveball great is his 6'7" frame.

Andy Pettitte had the best cutter for a 10-year period. He gave me fits. Because once you saw that cutter a few times, you tried to take-- middle lane is what you started looking for. So either meddle in or away. But you're not going to be able take the whole plate--

HOST 2: So if you can't do--

DAVID ORTIZ: --with CC Sabathia.

- --both, just to summarize here, Papi's saying the back door slider's going here. And then you guys are telling me the cutter's going here. So if you can't do both, which one are you looking for as a hitter tonight?

- With Pettitte, I stay with the inside fastball. And trust me, when he threw that outside fastball, it looked harder and it looked so far away.

So CC's going to get you one way or the other. He's going to figure out which philosophy he's going to take into this game.

- Cutters are synonymous with Al Leiter, Jon Lester, Andy Pettitte. What made them great, Kevin, is they would bring inside, they would actually expand. So you're actually on your heels.

So when the ball was in the outer half, it would be strike three looking. You turn around and tell the umpire, Blue, that's outside or Jeff, that's outside. And when you go back in the video, it's still on there.

- Yes.

- That's the effectiveness of a cutter.

- One last thing. You brought up the short porch with the home runs or the power hitters [INAUDIBLE] so you guys can turn on it. Does CC have to throw that cutter for a strike or does it have to be in when he throws it?

- One thing about him, he will power pitch you inside. He's not going to miss here. He's going to miss in here.

HOST 2: Got it.

- That's what's important with CC.

- We will look for that tonight. That's what the Astros hitters are facing against Sabathia.

- Letr me say this for y'all. He's a bad man.