It has been an impressive past few games for Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. Dating back to early last month, Sale has seen his ERA drop from an abhorrent 5.93 down to a much more respectable 3.27 after his last start against the Rangers.
Let’s take a closer look into why the Sox ace is rounding into his usual form.
First, I’ll start with something that color commentator Steve Stone mentioned during the Baltimore game on May 28. He said something along the lines of that Sale was finally commanding better control of his off-speed pitches, namely, his slider and changeup.
He also mentioned that due to Sale’s lack of spring training due to his ankle injury, he did not have the time to fully acclimate to the season and had to adjust as he went along. I believe Stone makes a good point because in Sale’s recent starts, he has had 35 total strikeouts in his last three outings. Having over six strikeouts only once in his first five starts, Sale has utilized his devastating slider more effectively and often.
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We are used to seeing him pile up the strikeouts and it looks like our ace is finally getting back to his usual self which is a nightmare for opposing hitters.
What you look for in an ace is longevity and a chance to give your bullpen a rest. Sale has done that and more over his recent outings. Dating back to his May 12 start in Milwaukee where he went eight innings, the left-hander has gone at least seven innings each of his five recent starts, even pitching eight innings three of those times and pitching into the eighth inning four times.
With his lengthy starts, Sale has been giving his team’s bullpen light work recently which can pay big dividends as the season goes on as the team gets into the grind of summer.
Your ace needs to be your stopgap and Sale epitomizes this to a tee. In his ten starts this year, the Sox are 7-3. The next best pitcher in the White Sox rotation is Jeff Samardzija at 6-4, but Sale has been noticeably been the White Sox best pitcher this year as is usually the case.
It all comes down to quality starts and Sale has only given up more than three earned runs twice all year. His other eight starts have resulted in quality starts translating to stellar outings giving his team the best chance to win.
Sale has shown for the better part of the past month that he is fully engaged and dominant every time he takes the mound. As the White Sox look to make up some ground on their division rivals, Sale will be a focal point for this team to make a push this upcoming summer.
I envision another All-Star Game nomination for the 26-year old lefty but I would much rather see his first career postseason start. Time will tell if he and the rest of his squad can make that a reality.