Chris Sale had a season to forget with the Red Sox. The team, as a whole, came into 2019 with lofty expectations, and Sale was no different. After recording the final out of the 2018 World Series, Sale went into the offseason hoping to shed his injuries and come back strong in 2019. That wasn’t the case. While he had moments, his season was largely the worst of his career and riddled with injuries.
The Extension for Sale
Before the season even began, Chris Sale received an extension that kicked in after the 2019 season. He was set to be a free agent after 2019, but Dombrowski decided it was time to lock that arm up long term. He is signed through 2025 with an annual average value of $29 million. It’s a steep price to pay, especially since he wasn’t a free agent until the end of this season. Given the injuries and ineffectiveness that Chris Sale faced, it have been a bit premature to extend him.
The Chris Sale Moments
Chris Sale didn’t go 2019 without any good moments. His most notable performance came against the Colorado Rockies, all the way back on May 14th. Sale pitched to the tune of 7 innings with 17 punch outs. Unfortunately, he ended up with a no decision and the team ended up losing the game. He did give up 2 runs while he was on the mound, but the 17 strikeouts were a good accomplishment in a largely underwhelming year.
Sale also had a stretch from May 3rd through June 21st where he was pretty dominant. He threw 65.1 innings with 106 strikeouts. He ended that stretch with a 2.34 ERA and opponents were held to a .530 OPS. It seemed at that point that a Sale righted the ship that was sinking.
After that stretch, Sale finished the season on August 13th due to injury. He had only pitched 52 innings after June 21st and was abysmal during that time. He had a 5.88 ERA and opponents had a .788 OPS against him.
All told, Sale ended the season with a 4.40 ERA, which was the highest of his career. He also pitched the fewest innings since 2011, which was around the start of his career. He was plagued by walks and the long ball this year as well.
The other troubling thing about Chris Sale is the inconsistency with his fastball velocity. Chris Sale relies on high octane fastballs mixed with a changeup that has separation in velocity. His fastball averaged 93.7 MPH this year, which was 2 MPH less than last year and 1 MPH less than his career average. It isn’t the worst of dips, but this means that most of his fastballs have less velocity on them, while his changeup and a slider velocity remain the same. It causes less separation, and Chris Sale will need to learn to pitch, instead of just throwing as he does now.
Chris sale notably went to visit Dr. James Andrews back in August. He received a PRP injection to his elbow and was shut down for the rest of the year.
That usually means Tommy John surgery is imminent, and if that is the case, the Red Sox are going to have an issue with his contract, as his extension doesn’t kick in until 2020. It seems that he has avoided it for now, and reports are that he is going to be ready for Spring Training, but James Andrews seeing pitchers is enough to scare anyone.
Conclusion for Chris Sale
Chris Sale had a very inconsistent and very underwhelming 2019, much like the whole team did. There are red flags that showed up for Chris Sale, and it will remain to be seen as to whether or not he can return to his old self. The hope is that with a normal offseason of rest that Chris Sale will be back at it in 2020 better than ever.