Just a few weeks ago, Boston Red Sox fans were getting ready to declare Chris Sale the American League MVP winner with weeks left to go. Now, after a rough August, fans are questioning his durability.
With the August performance aside, Chris Sale has been absolutely incredible this season. He has wowed Sox fans with his three pitch mix of a mid-90’s fastball, plus changeup, and wipeout slider. His dominance has been truly unquestioned. He has struck out 10+ batters in 17 different outings, including a streak of eight straight games.
The reality is that the lefty has never pitched in the postseason and his team was never good enough to warrant a chance. This year that will all change. Chris Sale will surely toe the rubber in game one of the ALDS with all eyes on him.
Time to focus on the August performance. Sale looks tired, plain and simple. Sale posted a season-low 4.38 ERA during that month. His velocity has been consistent, but he has not been sharp. His wipeout slider has had a tendency to hang over the middle of the plate, resulting in multiple homeruns allowed. Sale is also able to generate a lot of weak swings off of his changeup, but his location has been inconsistent – resulting in a lot of hard hit balls.
Chris Sale gave up back-to-back home runs for the first time in his career pic.twitter.com/cVBcEJAC1g
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) September 4, 2017
The answer is that Chris Sale truly needs some rest before the grueling postseason. The key factor is that the Red Sox must extend their lead in the division, in order to allow for this. This requires his supporting cast to pitch to their capabilities.
Drew Pomeranz has had a breakout year and Doug Fister has been excellent recently. The problem has lied with Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello. Neither of them have been consistent, resulting in the New York Yankees being able to hang around in the division race.
It is possible that the Red Sox could skip his turn in the rotation, but I envision a potential six man rotation as the season begins to close. Whether the return of David Price allows the Red Sox to do this, or they allow Hector Velazquez (2.21 ERA in Pawtucket) a few starts, the reality is that Chris Sale NEEDS the rest.
Still not convinced? The statistics don’t lie. Chris Sale owns a 1.88 ERA when having 6+ days off.
If the Red Sox want their ace to return to form, while being refreshed for the long haul in October, it would be in John Farrell’s best interest to give Chris Sale some rest.