With the “unofficial” second half of the MLB season under way, the Chicago White Sox will have their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound for the first time since the end of the All-Star break.
The question is … How will Sale perform in the second half of the season for a White Sox team that enters Monday’s start with an overall record of 47-52?
Sale will make his first start since the All-Star break at US Cellular field against the Kansas City Royals, where he’ll oppose Jeremy Guthrie (5-8, 4.56 ERA).
Let’s start by looking at the last time Sale pitched for the White Sox on July 9 at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox, a game where Sale had a no-decision.
Sale in that start pitched 7.2 innings (six strikeouts), allowing one earned run on four hits and no walks. In fact, Sale hasn’t allowed a walk in his past two starts.
Also this month, on July 4, Sale pitched at US Cellular Field against the Seattle Mariners, where he earned the win by pitching a complete game. Against the Mariners in nine innings, Sale allowed just one earned run on six hits. He collected 12 strikeouts.
For the season, Sale is 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 14 starts. In those starts, Sale has kept the opponent to a .190 batting average and has a WHIP of 0.84.
Now back to the question at hand … How will Sale perform for the rest of the season?
With the way Sale has pitched this season, there is no reason why he can’t continue the pace he’s on this year. Even with the time he spent on the disabled list with the left flexor strain, Sale has overcome that injury and continued to pitch to the standards of an ace.
When Sale has pitched in games this season, he’s only gone less than six innings twice, with one of those starts being because of a rain delay against the Cleveland Indians on May 27.
The one instance where Sale pitched under six innings in a start was on April 11, also against the Indians, a game where Sale allowed three earned runs on six hits with 105 pitches.
In the months of June and July, Sale has pitched 58.2 innings with his two complete games in that span of eight starts. In those innings, Sale has allowed less than a hit per inning (47 hits) and just 15 earned runs.
The only thing about Sale that causes concern is if the strain of the flexor muscle was ever to resurface. Other than that, if Sale can avoid injury, I see no reason as to why Sale will not only be one of the best pitchers in the American League, but one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Give us your thoughts on what you expect from Sale the remainder of the season.