Chris Sale was drafted in 2010, flew over the White Sox minor league system in little more than a month, immediately cast aside all concerns about the maturation level of his game and became a dominant reliever. He continued to be a dominant reliever in 2011, made a seamless transition to starting–at least performance-wise–in 2012 and is just rolling along now like none of this was particularly remarkable or crazy or even unadvisable.
Zack Wheeler, Sale’s junior by 14 months, was drafted out of his high school in Georgia sixth overall by the Giants in 2009. Progressing through the minors like a normal human and avoiding those four-level jumps that have become so popular in these parts, Wheeler just made his debut last week, just a few weeks removed from his 23rd birthday. When Sale blew out 23 candles, he had already thrown 94.1 major league innings.
Zack Wheeler was a highly-regarded prospect with much more excitement associated around his arrival than Chris Sale. Sale’s major league achievements dwarf Wheeler’s despite their close age. They are an odd pairing.
Despite the velocity n’ stuff-based excitement for Wheeler, minor league stats indicated he’d have some trouble throwing strikes, and through six innings against the Braves in his only MLB work to date, he had a lot of trouble throwing strikes; walking five. If he gets either of his potential-soaked but inconsistent slider or curve working, the White Sox will get to make a rare SportsCenter appearance for awful, awful reasons. Luckily, he’ll be handled with kid gloves cozy enough to allow for a Mets bullpen appearance.
White Sox Lineup
Chris Sale, SP
Paul Konerko‘s back is acting up and keeping him out of the lineup, so I don’t even have to bother dumping cold water over his recent singles parade. On the other hand, Jeff Keppinger has only made one out since June 21. He’s also only started once, but still, two walks in that time. None of his triple-slash figures are above .265.
New York Mets lineup
Zack Wheeler, SP
Now, as a White Sox fan, I’m not exactly used to fancy lineups and such, but what in goofyboots is going on here? Dead and buried last season, Marlon Byrd is experiencing an out-of-character power spike (11 HR in 60 games) and an even more out-of-character Adam Dunn-like power spike. Eric Young (DFA’d earlier this season but now leading off) is leading off, Josh Satin and Andrew Brown are both non-prospects who have enjoyed fluky, unsustainable success in a handful of game since being called up.
But it’s important to remember that David Wright is an actual honest-to-goodness superstar who is essentially impossible to get out. Such a thing has value.
Where to Watch: WCIU, 7:10 pm, unless it rains