On Wednesday night, the Red Sox ace flashed a low 90’s fastball and mediocre control – a sight that fans aren’t used to seeing. Time to press the panic button?
File this tweet from the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, as something you hate to see…
Sale did top out at 94 mph in the 4th inning, but his average four-seam velocity this game remains 90.1 mph — which would be the lowest of his career for a game. (He averaged 90.2 mph in the April game where the gametime temp was announced using the kelvin scale.)
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) September 27, 2018
Anytime your workhorse starter doesn’t have his best stuff, it raises eye brows; however when his next outing is Game 1 of the ALDS, the stress is magnified. Upon his return from the DL, Chris Sale has posted an average 3.75 ERA over the course of 12 innings.
Throughout a multitude of interviews, Sale has doubled down on the notion that his velocity decline is a product of shoulder trouble – that is good news. The unfortunate truth is that there is a clear sign of rust on the Red Sox ace. When he’s been reached for runs, it’s been either due to control issues (1 BB / 2 HBP against the Orioles), or a lack of sharpness on his pitches.
The Red Sox ace has been a bright spot during the 2018 season and will once again be in the Cy Young award race, despite the emergence of Blake Snell. His chances of winning the award have largely faded; however Sale put together a masterful season once again. Now, the bright lights will return as the ace will face either the Athletics, or rival Yankees, in the postseason.
Is there true reason to panic?
Concern is understandable, but any panic likely stems from the Red Sox early exits from the postseason over the past few seasons. Chris Sale has the motor to let things loose in October. There’s very little chance that the Red Sox ace will come out flat in the postseason.
In his first outing of 2018, Sale’s fastball averaged 90.82 MPH before returning to an average of 95.67 MPH in his next outing. He’s a seasoned veteran that will make the adjustment when necessary.
After a disappointing postseason audition last season, you should have confidence that the ace of the staff will not let history repeat itself. Buckle up.