Boston Red Sox (very) early starting rotation predictions
By Tyler Hetu
Chris Sale: Well. I don’t really have much to say about Sale. He’s about as straight forward as it gets. The guy is dominant, and I don’t mean that in the terms of how he just throws hard, I mean he literally dominates everyone. A 6’6″ 180 pound freak of nature, he has a wind up that makes me ache just looking at him. His near side arm delivery is deceptive, and makes his off speed even tougher to hit. His fastball is explosive, hitting mid to high ninety’s if he feels like it. He wasn’t cheap to get, but at 27 with some time left on his contract. He will be in Boston a while and will be fun to watch.
My Take: Coming from a notoriously bad offensive team in Chicago, he will head over heels when he sees the numbers the Red Sox offense puts up for him. However, Sale has three starts at Fenway in his career. One was a disaster (he gave up seven earned runs and 12 hits in five innings in 2015) and two were gems (two one-run, four-hit outings in seven innings — one in 2014 and the other in 2016). But the short fence in left field might be a huge problem for Sale over the course of a season, as it is for everyone in baseball.
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Since 2010, hitters produced a flyball against Sale on 35.4 percent of balls put in play — one of the highest rates among pitchers with at least 750 innings during that span. At Guaranteed Rate Field (the home of the White Sox), a reduced number of those that made their way to the left-field fence wouldn’t leave the park, but at Fenway, things could get ugly. The different venue could pose problems for Sale, but it’s nothing to worry over just yet.
However, even a less-effective Sale is still a top pitcher in baseball. Sale is expected to go 15-9 with a 3.44 ERA for Boston next year, finishing right behind Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber in wins above replacement according to Fangraphs. I think he will be a little better than that, but will once again fall short in the Cy Young race in 2017.
My Prediction: A Cy Young caliber season,17-8 and 3.15 ERA. 200.0 IP (will probably be higher) because he’ll be overused and around 250 K’s.