Chris Sale is the key to the Red Sox fighting through their post season demons.
Photo credit: Aug. 11, 2018 – Source: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images North America from Zimbio.com
A lot has been made this year of how the Red Sox will manage Chris Sale. If you recall, the Red Sox said he was on a different program that would ease him into the year. The Red Sox have had their eye on October with Chris Sale since day one. It is an easy thing to point to, as Chris Sale has had a history of breaking down over the course of 162 games. By the time the Red Sox got into the playoffs, Chris Sale was out of gas, and keeping that gas tank full will help fuel a deep run into October.
How have they been managing him differently? Just take a look at recent events. Chris Sale went on the disabled list for left shoulder inflammation that had been building over time. He went on record to say if he were needed he would have pitched. Sale even said “I don’t like this, I’m a pitcher who pitches.”
When he came back from the disabled list, he faced the Baltimore Orioles and only threw 68 pitches while just absolutely dominating the Orioles. Most pitchers would have been sent back out there after 68 pitches, but this is different. Alex Cora removed him from the game for a specific reason: October and history.
History Hasn’t Been Kind
No matter what Chris Sale’s numbers are right now, every person who follows the Red Sox knows that this is the time of the year that Chris Sale falters. For his career, he owns a 3.16 ERA in August and a 3.78 ERA in September/October. That represents a fairly decent uptick from his ERA that is well below 3 in the other months of the season. It is not terrible by any means, but just last year he had a 4.38 ERA in August and a 3.72 in September.
Chris Sale is apparently human.
Judging by the comments he made when he went on the disabled list, it is because he gives every ounce of effort in his body for every single time he enters a game. He has that kind of mentality. Sale wants to pitch. That can take a toll.
The Results of Managing
Chris Sale wants the ball every 5th day and who could blame him? He is having a year to remember and definitely his career best to this point. Sale is rolling a 12-4 record with a 1.97 ERA. He has spent his starts punching out 219 batters and only walking 33 of them. He also tends to keep the bases pretty clean with a 0.849 WHIP. What is even more interesting about his ridiculous season? His FIP is 1.95, suggesting that he has even pitched slightly better than his 1.97 ERA would indicate.
It just is not even fair for opposing hitters to have to face Chris Sale in 2018.
However the Red Sox manage Chris Sale, it only comes down to one thing: October. We’ve seen how an ace can take over on the biggest stages. We all watched Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and even old friend Jon Lester throw teams on their backs and march right through the playoffs. If the Red Sox want to get past the first round they will need Chris Sale ready to go and ready to take over when the calendar flips from September and the playoffs begin.