Chris Sale Keeping White Sox in Contention

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Jun 26, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) delivers a pitch during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) delivers a pitch during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox ace has MLB leading 14 wins and is on pace for 28 wins, could very well start All-Star Game for American League on July 12

The White Sox have yet to reach postseason since drafting Chris Sale in the 2010 draft. Although the chances of this team reaching the postseason in 2016 isn’t completely dead, the left-hander is doing his best to keep the White Sox in contention.

Chris Sale won his 14th game of the season when the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 7-6 on Saturday. Sale is currently 14-2 with a 2.92 ERA and became the first White Sox pitcher since Wilbur Wood to win 14 or more games before the All-Star break. Sale wasn’t that dominant against the Astros as he gave up four earned runs on six hits, but he had nine strikeouts through seven innings pitched.

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The White Sox offense were able to back up Sale with seven runs, something they couldn’t do for Jose Quintana this past Tuesday. After getting spotted a 2-1 lead early in the game, Sale promptly gave up the lead and the Astros lead 4-2 after the third inning. After the White Sox got the lead back at 5-4 in the fifth inning, Sale appeared to settle down and was able to hold the Astros scoreless over two innings.

Sale has been one of the better starters in MLB this season, and his outing on Saturday only confirmed the need for him starting in the All-Star game on July 12 in San Diego. Sale is having the best start to any season in his young career, and he’s already surpassed his win total from 2015. Although his strikeouts are down from last season, Sale is pitching deeper into games more consistently.

In 2015, Sale set the single-season White Sox record with 274 strikeouts, but he only pitched one complete game. This season, Sale has 118 strikeouts as of Saturday, but has pitched three complete games. Sale has pitched seven or more innings in 13 of his 17 starts this season. Last season through 17 starts, Sale only pitched seven or more innings in 10 starts.

With Sale’s dominance this season, the White Sox have managed to stay in contention despite various injuries to offensive players and relief pitchers, and the inability to win consistently within their division. The White Sox don’t have another starting pitcher with double digit wins, although Quintana should have more than five wins right now. In fact, Quintana is 5-8 with a 3.18 ERA. If Quintanta could get more run support, he would most likely have double digit wins right now for the White Sox.

If Sale had only half of the amount of wins he does currently, the White Sox would be under .500 and inching closer to becoming sellers at the trading deadline. Instead, Sale’s 14 wins have kept the White Sox postseason hopes alive as they’re just two and a half games behind the Kansas Royals for the final Wild Card berth as of Sunday.

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Although the White Sox aren’t close to being the team that got off to a 23-10 start, they also aren’t the team that was three games under .500 on June 20. The White Sox still have enough time to turn its season around, and they’re going to need more wins from Sale if they’re going to have any chance of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2008. Sale is not only pitching like a Cy Young Award candidate, but he could also vault himself into the MVP discussion with more dominance after the All-Star break.

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