Sale’s struggles against Cleveland are nothing new. He’s 5-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 18 career starts against the Indians. That’s his highest ERA against any team he has faced at least three times.
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Sale has plenty of exposure to Cleveland from his seven seasons pitching in the AL Central division with the Chicago White Sox. Familiarity can build confidence in hitters. Sale has one of the game’s best fastballs – not only in terms of velocity but for the movement he gets on the pitch. He pairs that with a nasty slider that can make the greatest of hitters look foolish.
Those with limited experience facing Sale are often baffled by him but enough at-bats can give hitters the opportunity to figure him out. It’s then up to the pitcher to adjust, which Sale has yet to do against this lineup.
One of the reasons Red Sox fans were excited about acquiring Sale is his track record against AL East opponents. He’s been dominant in his career against each team in the division, particularly the New York Yankees. He’s been good, but not quite as great against the Central division teams who have faced him more often.
Cleveland is the only team that has routinely gotten the best of Sale. However, one other team this season has tagged Sale for at least five runs and prevented him from lasting more than five innings. That would be his former team, the White Sox. No team has seen Sale on the mound more than his former organization, which may have played a part in their success.