ST. LOUS — Chris Sale might get an extra day of rest.
He certainly has earned it.
The White Sox star left-hander, whose historic performance over the last month and beyond has been nothing short of amazing, may not take his scheduled turn on four days rest when the Sox host the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. Instead, manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper are considering inserting Carlos Rodon back into the rotation a day or two sooner than originally planned, allowing Sale to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays Monday on five days rest.
“Chris has been pitching well, and the innings have been piling up because he has been pitching so well,” Ventura said the day after Sale struck out 12 St. Louis Cardinals in a 2-1 Sox victory in 11 innings.
If Sale does go Monday, that sets up the possibility of a Sale vs. Mark Buehrle matchup at U.S. Cellular Field. Buehrle, one of the all-time Sox fan favorites, was a teammate of Sale in 2010 and 2011 when Sale was a relief pitcher.
Sale joined Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record eight consecutive double-digit strikeout games. In the month of June, Sale was 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA. Over 44 1/3 innings, he struck out 75, walked eight and allowed 28 hits.
Sale feels fine, Ventura said, and he has looked strong.
“He hasn’t brought up anything about soreness, this is just Coop and I kicking it around to take care of him and make sure he’s fresh and keep him going the same way,” Ventura said. “We’ve spent enough time looking at Carlos, inserting him and moving him and everything else and you want to do that with Chris. He deserves it.”
Rodon was skipped in the rotation as the Sox keep close tabs on the rookie left-hander’s workload. The Sox have given Sale, who has encountered occasional soreness, even going on the disabled list with a flexor muscle strain, extra days in previous years.
Here are Sale’s pitch counts, in order, in games during May and June: 109, 110, 109, 113, 120, 112, 119, 125, 111, 112, 116.
“None of it has anything to do with him not feeling good or not feeling good physically, it’s just giving him that extra day,” Ventura said. “When we’ve done it for him, it sounds crazy, but he’s always bounced back and pitched maybe a little better. That probably sounds odd but he has looked stronger and fresher when he gets an extra day.”
In his 100th career start Tuesday, Sale beat the major leagues’ best team in the Cardinals. His 12 strikeouts put him on pace for 305 this season, which would be a franchise record and the highest total in the majors since Randy Johnson (334) and Curt Schilling (316) with Arizona in 2002.
Sale’s 75 strikeouts in June broke lefty Juan Pizarro’s franchise monthly record of 61 set in August 1961 and are the most in the majors since Nolan Ryan set the modern-era monthly record of 87 with California in June 1977.
Sale is 3-3 with a 1.80 ERA during his strikeout streak, which began May 23 against Minnesota.