Boston Red Sox ace, and American League Cy Young favorite Chris Sale is having as historic a season as we’ve seen in Boston.
On Friday night, Chris Sale accomplished something only three players in baseball history have done before. Collecting his 200th strikeout of the season in just 20 starts, he joined Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson (three times), and Pedro Martinez as the only players to do so.
In Martinez’s historic 1999 season, he ended the year with 313 strikeouts – a career high and Red Sox single season record. It wouldn’t have been hard to recognize Pedro’s greatness as he averaged 13.2 K/9, but somehow Sale has been better and if possible, less appreciated. Pedro’s 200th strikeout didn’t come until August 14, Sale accomplished the feat on July 21.
Let that sink in.
Is it possible that we haven’t been accurately depicting how great Chris Sale has been this season? Not only did he do something only three other pitchers in baseball history have done, he did it faster than any other pitcher in American League history. He’s now on pace to reach 331 strikeouts on the season, leaving Pedro’s club record in the dust.
And while he’s leaving all of us in awe of his season-long dominance, Sale remains focused on nothing but putting the Red Sox in a position to win.
"“It’s cool. I definitely appreciate it,” Sale said after the game. “I’m not the biggest fan of looking into stuff like that. Those things for the offseason or maybe one day tell my grandkids. We still have a lot of work to do. Don’t want to get caught up in stuff like that.’’"
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The Red Sox ace is now 12-4 on the season, after notching his 11th win in his last 12 starts. His 2.48 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, and 200 strikeouts are all tops in the American League, while his 6.1 fWAR is the best among all pitchers in baseball. Whichever way you look at it, Sale’s having the type of season that will be remembered for a long time to come.
It’s hard to believe that some fans were criticizing the front office for the trade last offseason. Was the price paid to acquire arguably the best pitcher in baseball high? Yes. Was it worth it? An unquestionable yes, thus far.
Yoan Moncada, the number one prospect in baseball at the time and the blue chip of the Red Sox farm system made his debut with the White Sox the other night. He collected three RBIs on his first hit – a triple – but has gone 0-for-5 since. Michael Kopech, the other elite prospect sent to the White Sox is still in Double-A but is mowing through batters at the rate we expected. He has 114 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched with a 3.51 ERA.
As for the other two players involved – Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz – neither has seen success since the trade. Basabe is batting .218 in High-A, while Diaz has allowed 15 earned runs in 11 innings between Low and High-A.
Moncada and Kopech look like they’ll go on to major league success, but to acquire a pitcher that is on pace to have one of, if not the best, single seasons in club history – the price has been well worth it. And this season isn’t just a one-off deal, either. The Red Sox have two club options on Sale’s contract, meaning he’ll be wreaking havoc in Boston for at least the 2018 and 2019 seasons.