Chris Sale, as expected, dropped the appeal for his five-game suspension and began serving it Thursday. Like Jeff Samardzija, Sale is expected to pitch on five days rest when the Sox play the Brewers in Milwaukee Tuesday. Samardzija will pitch Monday in the series opener.
Sale and Samardzija were suspended five games each for their roles in the April 23 bench-clearing brawl with the Royals. Sarmardzija dropped his appeal the day after he pitched Tuesday.
For a starting pitcher receiving a five-game suspension, the only penalty in reality is an extra day between starts. The Sox have been careful with Sale’s workload and have given him extra rest in the past, so, all things considered, it’s probably not the worst thing as they see it. Sale has also struggled in his last two starts, the first time has made two outings in a row without recording a quality start (six innings with three unearned runs or less).
Sale, who has a hefty 5.93 ERA after posting a 2.17 ERA mark that helped him finish third in AL Cy Young voting last season, walked five and allowed five runs in the Sox’ 7-6 come from behind win against the Tigers Wednesday. That followed the shortest (outing of his career) in Minnesota, a three-inning stint in which he gave up nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits. He has walked 10 and allowed 26 hits in 27 1/3 innings over five starts.
Opposing batters are hitting .309 against him. They hit .205 against him last season.
“You know there is probably something there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We’ll go look at it on video and see if there’s something there that’s sticking out that is abnormal for him. But there is a trust that is still there. You can tell by his velocity and his changeup that he’s still Chris Sale. There might be something that we can tweak and I’m sure he and [pitching coach Don Cooper] will get in there and take a look at it.”
For the purpose of taxing his elbow less, Sale is throwing fewer sliders to and leaning on more changeups, but he has had difficulty locating it in his last two starts.
“I think a lot of guys pace themselves,” Ventura said. “When you throw that hard it’s hard to come out there and throw it all the time. They have to be able to pace themselves and sometimes you get into a little trouble when you pace yourself. When he gets in a tough spot he gets in a tough spot.”
Ventura is confident Sale will figure it out.
“He’s been around doing this stuff long enough that he understands that,” he said. “It’s just a frustrating time for him. I have all the trust in him that he will right it.”