“FENWAY'S BEST PLAYERS”


 
2017-PRESENT
#6   CHRIS SALE

Chris Sale (born March 30, 1989), was selected 13th overall in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft by the Chicago White Sox and made his MLB debut with them in 2010. He is a six-time MLB All-Star, and he led the American League in strikeouts in 2015. Sale was born in LakelandFlorida. He graduated from Lakeland Senior High School. After his senior year for the Dreadnaughts, Sale was drafted in the 21st round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies, but chose not to sign and instead attended Florida Gulf Coast University.

Sale played college baseball for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles baseball team under head coach Dave Tollett. During the 2010 season at FGCU, Sale posted an 11–0 win–loss record and a 2.01 ERA over 17 games. Sale pitched 103 innings while recording 146 strikeouts and 14 walks. He led the NCAA in strikeouts at the end of the regular season. He was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year

In 2008, he was an All-Star for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League, and it was during his time in Wisconsin that coaches suggested he adopt his now distinctive low three-quarter arm angle. In the summer of 2009, he pitched for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He had a record of 4–2 and an earned run average of 1.47 with Yarmouth-Dennis, with 57 strikeouts as well. He was awarded the MVP in the Cape Cod All-Star Game.

Sale was drafted by the White Sox with the 13th overall selection in the 2010 MLB Draft. Once Sale signed with the White Sox in 2010, he was assigned to the White Sox' Class A affiliate Winston-Salem Dash. He pitched in four games for the Dash with a 2.25 ERA in four innings. He gave up three hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out 4 during his tenure with the Dash. He was then promoted to the White Sox triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights. While there, he pitched in seven games for the Knights with a 2.84 ERA in 6.1 innings. He gave up three hits and two earned runs while walking four and striking out 15 while with the Knights.

Sale was called up to the majors for the first time on August 4, 2010, and made his MLB debut August 6, 2010, against the Baltimore Orioles in the 8th inning. He was the first 2010 draft pick to be promoted to the majors. He got his first major league save on September 1, 2010, against the Cleveland Indians. In 21 appearances in his rookie year, he went 2–1 with a 1.93 ERA, 32 strikeouts, and 4 saves.

On December 6, 2016, the White Sox traded Sale to the Boston Red Sox for Yoan MoncadaMichael KopechLuis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. 

Sale finished either at or near the top of the American League in almost every significant pitching category in 2017. He led the league with 214 1/3 innings pitched, 308 strikeouts and a 12.93 K/9. His 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 7.16 K/BB ratio trailed only Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber.

The staggering strikeout total places Sale behind only Pedro Martinez ‘ 313 strikeouts in 1999 for the most by a Red Sox pitcher in a single season. He almost certainly would have broken the record if his final regular season start wasn’t skipped once the Red Sox found their playoff seeding locked in. He struck out double-digit batters 18 times this season, one short of Pedro’s franchise record.

For a while it seemed that Sale would cruise to his first Cy Young Award and was even garnering some MVP consideration. By the end of July he was 13-4 with a sparkling 2.37 ERA and enough strikeouts to make us believe he had a realistic shot at the franchise record.

Then the calendar flipped to August and Sale started to show signs of wearing down during the dog days of summer. He was hammered by Cleveland twice that month, allowing a total of 13 earned runs over eight innings between the two starts. He lost twice down the stretch to a Yankees team he had dominated throughout his career. He wrapped up the regular season by allowing a season-high four home runs in a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s not as if Sale completely fell apart over the last couple of months. He mixed in some dominant outings that showed he was still the league’s best pitcher when he was on his game. He was simply off a bit more than we were used to the later the season dragged on. That’s nothing new for Sale, who owns a career 3.78 ERA in September, his highest ERA in any month.

When Sale finally got his first taste of the postseason it didn’t go well. He was shelled for seven runs in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros. He pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen, nearly salvaging the series in Game 4, but John Farrell stuck with him a bit too long and it cost them. Sale would end up being tagged with two of Boston’s three losses in the series.

Sale maintained his role as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2018. For the majority of the year, Sale remained as effective as ever on the mound. His statistics were as incredible as ever this year and although he battled with injuries throughout the season, including extended shoulder inflammation. He finished the year 12-4, with an impressive ERA of 2.11. He also recorded 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, which was a new career high.

He was the Opening Day starting pitcher for the 2018 Red Sox. Facing the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, he pitched six innings, giving up just one hit and walking three, while striking out nine. However, the Rays scored six runs in the eighth inning off of Sox bullpen, defeating the Red Sox, 6–4, and leaving Sale with a no decision

During June, Sale had a 1.76 ERA over six starts and recorded 60 strikeouts in 41 innings; he was named the AL Pitcher of the Month. On July 6th, he pitched six innings while allowing just one run against the Kansas City Royals, getting the win. It was his ninth win of the season (against four losses), and the 100th win of his MLB career.

Two days later, Sale was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game; he was named the AL starting pitcher, for the third consecutive year, on July 16th. 

On July 31st, he was placed on the disabled list due to left shoulder inflammation. At that point in the season, he had an 11–4 record with 2.04 ERA in 22 starts. He was activated on August 12th, and was the winning pitcher of that day's game against Baltimore. On August 18th, Sale was again placed on the 10-day disabled list, due to inflammation of the same shoulder. He was activated on September 11th, pitching one inning in that day's game against Toronto.

Parts of Sale’s best were on show in the Red Sox’s illustrious postseason campaign. However, Sale was not at his most dominant. The Red Sox were able to get the job done without huge performances from their best players in October.

He was effective against the Yankees, in Game #1 of the ALDS, allowing just the two runs over 5.1 innings, whilst striking out eight.  In his ALCS and World Series starts, respectively, he only managed to pitch four full innings, giving up five runs in total.

On October 23rd, he started Game #1 of the World Series for the Red Sox at home at Fenway Park. He pitched 4-plus innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out seven in a no decision. The Red Sox went on to win the game 8–4.

Sale was more dominant is his relief appearances. He threw a hitless inning in Game #4 of the ALDS, helping the Red Sox beat the enemy Yankees 3-1, in the series. His biggest section of the 2018 postseason campaign came in the clinching moments of the World Series, where he emphatically, struck out the side and got Manny Machado swinging for the final out of the Fall Classic. This will be a memory that will live on with the Red Sox faithful for ages.