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Christopher Sale

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[edit] Biographical Information

Chris Sale was a first-round draft pick in the 2010 amateur draft and reached the majors almost immediately.

Out of high school in Florida, Sale was picked in the 21st round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Colorado Rockies but he opted for college. He was 2-0 with two saves and a 3.47 ERA as a freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University, fanning 46 in 36 1/3 innings. As a sophomore, Chris had a 7-4, 2.72 record and set 104 batters down on strikes in 89 1/3 innings. He finished second in the Atlantic Sun Conference in ERA (.18 behind Chad Jenkins), was second in strikeouts and tied for second in wins (one behind Jenkins). He made All-Conference.

Chris really improved his stock with a superb showing in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2009. He was 4-2 with a 1.47 ERA with a league-best 57 whiffs in 55 innings. He allowed just 37 hits and 9 walks. He was third in the loop in ERA, .05 behind #2 Kyle Blair. He was named the league's Outstanding Pitcher. Baseball America rated him the best prospect in the league, right ahead of Zack Cox and Alex Wimmers.

As a junior, Sale was named Pitcher of the Year in the A-Sun, going 11-0 with two saves, a 2.01 ERA ERA and 146 K with only 14 walks, tops in NCAA Division I in strikeouts at the end of the regular season. Collegiate Baseball named him a first-team All-American as well as their Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. Prior pitchers to take that award were Greg Swindell, Andy Benes, Ben McDonald, Bobby Jones, Lloyd Peever, Kris Benson, Kip Bouknight, Mark Prior, Jered Weaver, Wes Roemer, David Price and Stephen Strasburg.

Chris was taken by the Chicago White Sox with the 13th selection of the 2010 amateur draft. He made his pro debut on July 2nd for the Winston-Salem Dash, with one shutout inning of relief. On August 4, the White Sox brought him to the major leagues with barely 10 professional innings of experience. He had struck out 19 in 10 1/3 innings for the Dash and Charlotte Knights, though he had walked six. He became the second Florida Gulf Coast player to make the majors, doing so just four days after Casey Coleman was the first.

In his major league debut, Sale relieved John Danks with a 1-1 tie in the 8th against the Baltimore Orioles. He walked Brian Roberts on four pitches, then gave up a Nick Markakis single before leaving in favor of Tony Pena. He was the first player form the 2010 draft to reach the major leagues. He pitched 21 games with the Sox that year, with an excellent 1.93 ERA, a 2-1 record and 4 saves, and only 15 hits allowed in 23 1/3 innings, against 32 strikeouts; his performance comforted the Pale Hose that they had made the right decision in rushing him to the Show. He continued to pitch well in 2011, spending the entire season in the Sox's bullpen, where he went 2-2, 2.79 in 58 games. Mainly working as a set-up man for closer Sergio Santos, he still collected 8 saves and continued to display superior stuff, striking out 79 against 52 hits and 27 walks in 71 innings.

Even though Santos was traded before the 2012 season, opening the closer's job, Chicago had different plans for Sale. In the winter, they announced that he would be moved to the starting rotation for the next season. To prepare, he was worked on improving his change-up, which he had barely needed until then. he did spend the first month of the year as a starter, and the results were quite good, as he went 3-1, 2.81 in 5 starts. However, on May 4th, manager Robin Ventura made a complete turn-around, saying Sale would be the team's new closer. he explained that it was not because of dissatisfaction with the job done by Hector Santiago in the role since the start of the season, but in order to preserve Sale's health, as the pitcher had chronic soreness and tightness in his elbow. Indeed, a week later, he was sent to undergo an MRI on the elbow, but it came out clean, and then the Sox reversed themselves, deciding to make him a starter again. He had only pitched one game as closer, blowing the save. On May 28th, he demonstrated why he was such a hot prospect as a starter, as he came within one strikeout of the White Sox franchise record in beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1; he struck out 15 in 7 1/3 innings in picking up his sixth win, one fewer than the total Jack Harshman had achieved on July 25, 1954. It was the highest strikeout total ever achieved at Tropicana Field, however. He was named the American League's Pitcher of the Month for May, with a record of 4-1, 1.71. His teammate Jake Peavy had won the honor in April. In his next start on June 3rd, he pitched his first career complete game in defeating the Seattle Mariners, 4 - 2. He was selected as a member of the American League squad at the 2012 All-Star Game and two days later, on July 3rd, earned his 10th win of the year in a 19-2 demolition of the Texas Rangers. In the All-Star Game, he relieved Jered Weaver with a 8-0 deficit in the 6th. He retired Rafael Furcal then gave up back-to-back singles to Chipper Jones and Andrew McCutchen but recovered to get Jay Bruce on a fly and got David Freese swinging. Ryan Cook replaced him on the mound in the 7th. He earned his 15th win of the year with another gem on August 22nd, beating the New York Yankees, 2-1. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up just one run while fanning 13 to improve to 15-4 on the year. He finished the year at 17-8, 3.05 with 192 strikeouts in exactly as many innings. He was among the 2012 AL leaders in ERA (4th, after David Price, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver), wins (tied for 4th with Verlander), WHIP (1.14, 5th, between Price and CC Sabathia), strikeouts per 9 IP (4th after Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish and Verlander) and strikeouts (9th, between Matt Moore and Jake Peavy). He finished 6th in voting for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award.

In spring training of 2013, sale signed a five-year contract extension with the White Sox for $32 million, with an option for the next two seasons as well. On May 12, 2013, Sale recorded his first career shutout with a 3-0 one-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He took a perfect game into the 7th inning before Mike Trout singled with one out, and needed only 98 pitches to complete the gem, striking out 7 opponents in the process. It was the third major league one-hitter in three days, following similar efforts by Jon Lester and Shelby Miller on May 10th, interspersed with a two-hitter thrown by Adam Wainwright on May 11th. He lost two potential wins in June because of poor defensive play by his teammates: on June 14th, he struck out 14 Houston Astros batters in a complete game effort, but lost, 2-1, on two unearned runs both resulting from errors by SS Alexei Ramirez. June 25th was even more frustrating: Addison Reed was one out away from saving a 4-3 win over the New York Mets, when he induced Daniel Murphy to hit a routine pop-up in front of the mound. 3B Conor Gillaspie was camped under it, but 2B Gordon Beckham rushed in from his position, tripped on Reed's foot, fell down and bowled over Gillaspie in the process, allowing the ball to fall to the ground and David Wright to score the tying run all the way from second base. The lack of support meant that Sale was only 6-8 at the All-Star break, in spite of a 2.85 ERA. American League manager Jim Leyland was able to look past the won/loss record and see how well Chris had actually pitched, and selected him for the 2013 All-Star Game. In the game on July 16th, he succeeded Scherzer on the mound in the 2nd inning and proceeded to retire all six batters he faced (Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Yadier Molina, Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer and Bryce Harper); the AL scored its first run in the bottom of the 3rd and he got credit for the 3-0 win. He was in fact the only American League pitcher to go more than one inning and his dominating performance could well have earned him the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award, except that it went to Mariano Rivera in appreciation of his outstanding career on top of pitching a perfect inning in the contest. He continued to get poor support after the break and finished 11-14 despite a 3.07 ERA; he fanned 226 in 214 1/3 IP. He finished among the AL leaders in ERA (7th, between Félix Hernández and James Shields), WHIP (3rd, 1.07, behind Scherzer and Hisashi Iwakuma), innings (tied for 5th with Scherzer), whiffs (3rd behind Darvish and Scherzer), complete games (4, tied for first with Price), K/BB ratio (4.91, 2nd to Price), losses (tied for third with teammate John Danks, Phil Hughes and Joe Blanton), hit batsmen (tied with Ivan Nova for 4th with 14) and ERA+ (140, 5th, between Bartolo Colon and Iwakuma).

Sale started the 2014 season red hot, winning his first three starts, and then giving up a single run in 7 innings in a no-decision in the fourth. He was 3-0, 2.30 when he went on the disabled list on April 18th with a muscle strain in his pitching arm. He missed over a month of action, but was sharp in a minor league rehabilitation start, then in his return on May 22nd, he was brilliant against the Yankees. In 6 innings of work, he retired 18 of the 19 men he faced, the only exception being Zoilo Almonte's two-out single in the 6th. His bullpen gave up a couple of 9th-inning runs, but the Sox held on for a 3-2 win. On June 1t, he did not need any help as he tossed a complete game two-hitter in defeating the San Diego Padres, 4-1. He walked nobody and struck out 9 in another vintage dominant performance.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 3-time AL All-Star (2012-2014)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2013)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2012)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2013)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2013)

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