Chris Sale, The Most Intimidating Lefty in the American League
Chris Sale, 'The condor' delivers a pitch
Chris Sale 'The Condor'
Chris Sale is six foot and six inches tall. He doesn't even weigh in at two hundred pounds. They call him 'The Condor,' but a condor is a beefy bird, then again, the condors of the world have long wingspans. I'm thinking they should have decided to call Chris Sale 'The Albatross,' one species of albatross has the longest wingspan of any bird, and of course, an albatross has an ominous connotation or ring to it. Chris Sale is the most deadly left handed starting pitcher in the American League. He's the AL's version of Clayton Kershaw, and the most likely person to join Kershaw in the exclusive 300 strikeout club.
Heck, Chris Sale would have got 300 strikeouts last season had he only thrown a few more innings. He finished 2015 with 274 'Ks' in just two hundred and eight and a third innings pitched. You get the comparisons to Kershaw because Chris is the American League's most dominating left handed pitcher. To me, he's more like a left handed version of Max Scherzer.
Chris Sale, the closest thing to Randy Johnson since, well, Randy Johnson
Chris Sale and the un-hittable left handed slider
Chris Sale as a comparison to the Big Unit, Randy Johnson is a pretty accurate deal, actually. He's not quite that tall, and doesn't throw quite that hard, but then again, give the man a chance, he's still rather young in years. Chris Sale hasn't yet entered into his prime, but he's been the staff ace for the Chicago White Sox since he was twenty three years old in 2012.
Sale of the slider, it is his best pitch. Chris Sale sets his slider a sale, and there are many empty swings behind it. His low to mid 90s fastball is hard to hit, and if you sit on the fastball coming at you from such an odd angle, with all those elbows and arms behind it, you can't very well hit the slider. You can hardly ever hit Chris Sale's slider even if you're standing there dead set for it to be thrown.
It is well known, or at least very well speculated the slider causes damage to the arm more readily than any other pitch. Supposedly, the throwing of the slider puts too much stress on the ulnar collateral ligament. The UCL is the ligament that blows out leading a pitcher to have to have Tommy John surgery, or just retire. Randy Johnson, and the other left handed legend of the slider, Steve Carlton both had long long and dominating Hall of Fame careers throwing sliders like the one Chris Sale throws. Chris has an odd delivery motion. His pitching mechanics scare pitching coaches and scouts. People predict he'll have terrible arm problems, but Sale sales on.
How good is Chris Sale's fastball? Well, it is usually from between 94 and 99 miles per hour on the gun. But really, that doesn't mean as much as you think it does. A straight pitch that moves very little from side to side or down, or wherever isn't so hard to hit for a big league player. Better to have a 94 mile per hour fastball with some degree of movement than a 100 mile per hour fastball that is flat or straight. According to some sources on the web Chris Sale has been documented at over 100 miles per hour. But Sale's big strength is not just the velocity, but the funky delivery of his pitches, and their movement.
Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale pitching at a Cy Young level
Chris Sale, from the university to the Major Leagues quickly
Of course Chris Sale didn't start his career off as the ace lefty of the Chicago White Sox. He wasn't always the most feared left handed starting pitcher in the American League. He's only 26 years old here going into the 2016 season. He's a Floridian, a man from Florida. He wasn't a high draft choice, he was picked in the 21st round in 2007. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in that 21st round draft, but he wasn't biting at that. He opted instead to pursue education, and baseball there at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Chris did very very well for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. He posted a record of eleven wins and zero loses in 2010. Oh yeah, he'd be looking at being picked higher in the next draft he was a part of. He was throwing those college boys the same filthy nasty stuff from the same funky delivery, and getting much the same results, which is to say, he struck out a lot of batters. As a top level college pitcher, Chris Sale would spend Summers pitching in a wooden bat league for further training and exposure, and a better look at what professional ball would be like - no aluminum bats. The 2010 draft rolled around and Chris Sale was drafted by his future team this time, the Chicago White Sox picked him in the first round. He was the 13th player picked overall.
Before the year of 2010 was over, Chris Sale would be in the Major Leagues pitching for the Chicago White Sox. His college playing years paid off handsomely for him, and he barely had to work in the minor leagues at all. He debuted in the Big Leagues on August the 4th of 2010.
One of the best players in all of Major League Baseball, Chris Sale
2011 Topps Baseball Card #65 Chris Sale RC - RC - Rookie Card - Chicago White Sox - MLB Trading Card In A Protective Screwdown Case
Chris Sale becomes the ace
Starting out, Chris Sale was a reliever. He only weighed 175 pounds, and he's six foot six. Surely the guy was too small to throw more than an inning or two max? Well, as they say, size is deceptive. Tim Lincecum only ever weighed about that much, and he's won Cy Young awards. Granted, Tim wasn't six foot six inches in height.
Chris was the first draft pick from the 2010 draft to make it to the Big Leagues. He was only given a late Summer taste of it all, but he'd be back in 2011 to make a bigger claim. In 2011 he'd make a lot of appearances out of the White Sox' bullpen. All his appearances that year and before were as a reliever. Sale was dominating out of the pen, but he hadn't yet been considered for the starting rotation.
It was in 2012 when Chris would start to make it as a starter. He'd simply not gotten a chance before then. In a start in late May, on the 28th he'd make an indelible impression. He struck out 15 batters against the Tampa Bay Rays. He'd go 4 wins and 1 loss for the month, and win American League Pitcher of the Month.
Chris would go on to make the All Star team for the first time by midsummer. By year's end, he was the ace of the Chicago White Sox. He'd finish the season with a terrific won/loss record of 17 wins, 8 losses. He pitched just under 200 innings, and had just under 200 strikeouts. He'd rank sixth in the Cy Young voting.
In 2013 Chris Sale had a hard luck record with the White Sox. Oh he showed the American League he was everything hitters could have nightmares over, but like Corey Kluber in 2015, he had a losing record. He maintained a low earned run average of just over three runs per game, and he blew away hitters with 226 strikeouts in just 214 and a third innings. His dominance of batting lineups was increasing.
The year 2014 saw Chris Sale getting the sort of run support he deserved. His winning percentage would jump by leaps and bounds, as he won 12 games and only lost 4. He sustained an arm injury early in the year though, and this cost him several starts. By late May he was back on top, and in a game against the New York Yankees he retired 17 straight batters. His strikeout percentage or strikeouts per inning continued to increase, and though he only pitched 174 innings that year, he struck-out 208 hitters. He'd finish 3rd in the Cy Young voting behind winner Corey Kluber.
Highlights from Chris Sale's dominating 2015 season
Chris Sale in 2015 and beyond
In 2015 Chris Sale became the most coveted left handed pitcher in the American League. Perhaps he already had that distinction, but he's not really up for grabs. Then again, there are few players who're ever off the table insofar as trades go. No one ever knows just what is going to happen next. Dallas Keuchel won the American League Cy Young award, but this was mostly due to the Houston Astros having a much better team than the Chicago White Sox had, and as baseball is a team sport, they gave Keuchel more run support, and so it goes.
There's also the point of fact that Chris Sale started the 2015 season on the disabled list with a foot injury. He returned soon enough. He may be a thin man, but he is tall and intimidating, and his left arm is dangerous. Chris was involved in a good old fashioned bench clearing brawl on the baseball diamond on April the 23rd against the Kansas City Royals. Chris was ejected from the game. He was later suspended for 5 games. On June the 19th Chris Sale pitched his 5th straight game of 12 or more strikeouts; the game was also his 6th straight game of more than 10 strikeouts. On June 30th against St. Louis, he recorded his 8th straight start of more than 10 strikeouts, this ties a mark set by Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez.
So you can easily deduce that were it not for the suspension and the minor time spent on the disabled list, that Chris Sale would have likely struck out 300 batters in 2015, as Clayton Kershaw did in the National League. You'd be unwise to bet against Chris doing this in 2016. Lets hope he pitches the entire season. Thanks for reading.