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Chicago White Sox Player Review: Chris Sale

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Aug 12, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Sale had a wonderful season for the Chicago White Sox in 2014, and he should finish in the Top 2 or 3 in the AL Cy Young Award voting for his body of work.

The left-handed ace of the White Sox had nearly a month-long stint on the disabled list during the first half of the season, but he managed to overcome the left flexor strain and continue to have a very successful ’14 season.

Aug 30, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In ’14, Sale tallied an overall record of 12-4 in 26 starts with an ERA of 2.17, the second-best ERA in the American League and third-best in the majors, only trailing Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.

Watching Sale pitch this season was so exciting in ’14, because like I’ve said many times before, he was “must-see” TV when it was his turn to pitch for the White Sox.

In his 26 starts, Sale pitched two complete games (on June 1 vs. San Diego and on July 4 vs. Seattle) in 174.0 innings pitched. Of the 48 runs allowed in his starts, 42 were earned. He allowed 13 home runs and walked 39.

But with Sale, his strikeout numbers, once again, were great as he finished with 208, averaging 1.19 strikeouts per inning and eight strikeouts per start.

Before the All-Star break (14 starts), Sale was 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA (95.0 IP), and following the All-Star break, the AL All-Star Sale was 4-3 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts (79.0 IP).

For ’14, Sale’s WHIP (walks+hits/IP) was less than one at 0.966, and for his career, it is 1.067.

Then there are some sabermetric stats that show how great Sale pitched in ’14. His WAA (wins above average) was 5.0 for the second consecutive season, and his WAR (wins above replacement) was 6.6. Sale’s RAA (Runs better than average) was 41 with an RA9 (Runs allowed per nine innings) of 2.48.

Compare toss to the best pitcher in the majors for the ’14 season in Kershaw. The ace of the Dodgers, had a WAA of 5.9, a WAR of 7.5, a WHIP of 0.857, an RAA of 46 and RA9 of 1.91.

The left-handed ace of the South Side also had a RA9 (runs allowed per nine innings) of 2.47.

Sale ended the season well, as the month of September saw Sale go 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts. In those final four starts, Sale totaled 30 strikeouts, including ending the season with 10 strikeouts against the eventual AL Central champion Detroit Tigers.

In fact, during his final 10 starts, Sale totaled 86 strikeouts, including a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Tigers on Aug. 30 in seven innings on the mound.

Sale pitched eight total games in ’14 where he had at least 10 strikeouts.

I still believe the best is still yet to come from Sale, and that’s saying something. As great as this ’14 season was, there is still more greatness to see from Sale as he continues to be the ace of the White Sox.

Sale only continues to get better, and possibly with more run support for him in ’14, and hopefully an improved bullpen to keep leads for the ace, maybe ’15 will be even better than this past season.

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