Not exactly unexpected, Chris Sale has been lights out this year. It’s rare that someone comes exactly as advertised and performs even better than expected (i.e. not David Price). Some guys can’t hack it in a market like Boston. Other guys *thrive* and Chris Sale definitely falls into the latter.
Among pitchers in the American League, Sale is top-3 in WAR, ERA, Wins, WHIP, IP & leads all AL pitchers in K’s by more than 30. Sale has 178 K’s, which is THIRTY strikeouts more than the guy in second. It would have been a slight against god to not give Sale the start.
Lets take a step back though and really examine Chris Sale’s dominance on the mound this year. He’s the most electric Red Sox starter since Pedro. He’s the first guy I will run home to sit down and watch since Curt Schilling in 04. Beckett was dominant for a stretch, Lester was great, Buchholz was infuriatingly amazing and terrible at the same time. But none touch Sale.
Can we also point out that Chris Sale is on pace for 356 K’s this year, which would be the most K’s in a single season since Randy Johnson had 372 in 2001. The Big Unit also won the Cy Young that year (the 2nd of his 3 in a row).
To put that into perspective, here’s the list of pitchers that have had 300 K’s in a season over the past 20 years:
- Clayton Kershaw (2015)
- Randy Johnson (99, 00, 01, 02)
- Pedro Martinez (99)
- Curt Schilling (97, 98)
Four guys in 20 years. Thats it. Pretty good company to have. Now it’ll be hard to ever top Pedro striking out 5 guys in 2 innings in the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway, but goddamnit Chris Sale will try.