Red Sox: Tipping pitches may be the cause for Chris Sale’s struggles

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19: Chris Sale
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19: Chris Sale /

The Boston Red Sox can usually count on Chris Sale to go out and dominate whomever his opponent is. However, the Cleveland Indians seem to have him figured out. Could it be due to Sale tipping his pitches?

The Boston Red Sox acquired Chris Sale because he is a true ace and can be counted on every fifth day to go out and dominate the opposing batters. However, the Cleveland Indians, one of the Red Sox’s biggest potential postseason threats, seem to have him figured out. Sale has a 14.63 ERA against Cleveland while posting a 2.32 ERA against every other opponent this season.

In order to explain that huge discrepancy, many, including Sale himself, have looked into the possibility that he may be tipping his pitches when he goes into his windup. Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam spoke to Sale after his start Thursday night against the Indians where he allowed six earned runs over three innings. Sale admitted that tipping his pitches could be causing his struggles.

“You’d think that, with the way they’ve hit me,” said Sale. “I haven’t found anything, but it’s something we’re going to look at on video. It might be something simple, like [pitch] sequencing. But it’s something we’ll definitely take a look at.”

Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis and hitting coach Chili Davis have both been studying Sale’s video to discover any patterns or tips. Unfortunately for Sale and the Red Sox, they have yet to find anything significant.

“We haven’t found anything yet. It is possible,” said Willis. “There could be something; we can’t rule that out. We’ve got to look into it. We won’t leave any stone unturned.”

Sale also credited his struggles Thursday night to just poor pitch command. He claimed that his “stuff” just wasn’t as good as it normally is and that his command wasn’t as strong as it normally is.

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“You look at the pitches that they hit, everything was up over the plate,” said Sale. “I just … sucked, quite honestly. The pitches weren’t down, they were right there, center-cut.”

The Cleveland Indians have faced Sale 18 times in his career and could simply just be familiar with the lefty ace. However, teams like the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Kansas City Royals are also very familiar with the former White Sox pitcher and they have yet to figure him out. Sale has a 3.31 combined ERA against his former division rivals.

The Red Sox and the Indians are likely to be opponents in the American League Division Series in October and Chris Sale is all but guaranteed to be the Red Sox starter for Game 1. Despite his struggles against the Indians, he gives the Red Sox the best chance of winning and Sale is also looking forward to another opportunity against them.

“I would love it, would absolutely love it,” said Sale. “This is obviously a pretty good rivalry, even though we’re not in [the same] division or anything like that. But given what happened last [October] and the series that we’ve had against each other this year, they’ve been phenomenal.”

Next: The RISP and LOB Problems of the Red Sox

Sale and the Red Sox are looking to rebound Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Both Sale and the Red Sox desperately need to get back on track after a dreadful weekend. The Red Sox have lost four straight games and a total of six of their last ten. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are desperate for wins in hopes of securing a Wild Card position. The BoSox will turn to Drew Pomeranz, Sale, and Rick Porcello against the Blue Jays before taking on the Yankees in New York.