Jul 15, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; American League pitcher Chris Sale (49) of the Chicago White Sox throws a pitch in the fourth inning during the 2014 MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
By acquiring Jeff Samardzija over the offseason, the Chicago White Sox manufactured a rotation that’s poised to challenge for the best staff in the American League. It’ll need to be for the White Sox to convert on their postseason aspirations for ’15, and I have little doubt that this talented unit will be up to the task.
Here is a look at various aspects of the White Sox 2015 rotation.
Chris Sale (The Ace)
Chris Sale has been brilliant during his time as a major league starter. Had a strained left flexor muscle strain not landed him on the DL last spring, he probably would have taken home the Cy Young hardware.
It didn’t take long for him to become the ace of the staff after his breakout 2012 season. Sale was flat-out dominate in ’13 and last season he went a step further, skyrocketing himself into the truly upper echelon of aces in baseball.
Sale came in third in AL Cy Young voting on the backs of a career best 2.17 starter’s ERA and a remarkable 10.8 SO/9 ratio. His ERA+, which takes into consideration ballpark factors was a 178, topping all other American League starters.
Yes, that’s right. That’s what makes Sale so amazing. Sale puts up these elite numbers despite pitching half his games in the launching pad that is U.S. Cellular field.
So what does 2015 hold?
Once Sale comes back from the avulsion fracture in his foot, he’ll remain the Rolls Royce of the staff. He already has three plus-pitches and utilized his change-up much more often last year in an effort to avoid injury and it proved to be effective.
While his slider will always be devastating, Sale’s ability to command his pitches and systematically mix his repertoire enables him to go deep into games and generate a lot of whiffs.
Sale held left-handed hitters to a meager .393 OPS last year, and you can expect him to be just as much of a nightmare for them in ’15. At only 26 years of age, Sale is just entering his prime and that’s a dangerous notion for opposing hitters.
Sale wins the American League Cy Young Award after leading the White Sox to their first postseason appearance since 2008. The gap between Sale and Clayton Kershaw lowers to such a point that the lefty from Los Angeles is no longer the clear-cut answer for best pitcher in the bigs.
Sale suffers a major arm injury that requires season ending Tommy John surgery, sending the rotation from the elite stratosphere to pedestrian at best.
My Prediction: 20-5 record/ 2.10 ERA/ 242 K (1st in AL Cy Young Voting, All-Star)
Next: Right-handed starting pitching has arrived