White Sox ace Chris Sale has posted some incredible numbers this season, including a league-leading 208 strikeouts.
He joined Hall of Fame company in June by becoming just the third pitcher since 1900 to strike out 12 batters in five straight starts. He also went eight straight starts with 10 or more strikeouts.
His four consecutive All-Star seasons have helped solidify his status as the most dominant pitcher in the American League.
“He’s one of the best pitchers but he’s most definitely the most dominant pitcher in the American League,” former Mariners and Indians manager Eric Wedge said Thursday night on ESPN. “And when you look at his overall stuff from the left side, the breaking ball is electric, the fastball takes off. He has that changeup that he throws very hard but works very well off his fastball. He’s the most dominant pitcher in the American League.”
If there’s one flaw in Sale’s career, Wedge said, it’s that he hasn’t had the opportunity to pitch in postseason games or even meaningful games late in the season. And, as a result, he’s been inconsistent.
“He can’t control whether or not they’re a winning club,” Wedge said. “He can participate and help them be better but he just hasn’t been in position to pitch meaningful games late in the season. And I think because of that he’s been somewhat inconsistent over the course of the season from time to time. Until he gets to the point he’s pitching meaningful games in August and September and doing it regularly, I think that’s what he’s missing.”
Sale has, indeed, been inconsistent this season. His dominant run in the middle of the year was bookended by several poor starts. He gave up nine runs — eight earned — against the Twins on April 30 and then gave up five runs in his next start against the Tigers. Sale also gave up seven runs in back-to-back starts against the Rays and Red Sox earlier this month.
Sale’s most recent start, though, was one of the best of his career. He struck out 15 Cubs hitters in seven innings while allowing just one hit.