Sep 3, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, in his second full season as a starter for the Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale was the Opening Day starter. That day, facing the Kansas City Royals James Shields, Sale out dueled the veteran, twirling 7.2 shutout innings while allowing only seven hits and a walk, striking out seven Royals in the 1-0 victory.
As the White Sox ace, Sale is likely to be starting on Opening Day for the foreseeable future. This year, instead of facing off against a top of the rotation starter in Shields, Sale gets what should be an easier task with the Minnesota Twins. Although the Twins starter, Ricky Nolasco, has started on Opening Day several times before, he is not nearly in the same class of starter that Shields is.
Likewise, the Twins are likely to be a much easier opponent. While the Royals were not exactly an offensive juggernaut last season, the Twins are in the midst of a rebuilding project of their own. Aside from the always dangerous Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, there may not be a lot of punch in the lineup.
Although the White Sox have their own issues heading into the season, they are likely to be better than the Twins. The White Sox also have Chris Sale, who despite any other flaws they may have, will give the team a legitimate chance to win every fifth start. Just having that ace in the rotation, who they have under team control through 2019 if both options are picked up, has to be a relief.
In just a few hours, Chris Sale will be starting his second consecutive Opening Day for the White Sox. By the looks of things, this is a role he should get used to.