Through the first four months of the season, it appeared that Sale would run away with this award. He was even garnering attention in the MVP debate. He entered the break with a 2.75 ERA and was named the AL starter for this year’s All-Star Game.
Once the calendar flipped to August we began to see some signs of Sale unraveling. While he still mixed in some dominant outings to prove he hadn’t completely lost it, there was an uncharacteristic number of rough outings that torpedoed his hold on the Cy Young race.
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Sale was lit up twice by a Cleveland Indians team that seems to have his number, surrendering 13 runs over two starts against the Tribe in August. He also gave up five runs over five innings in his final start of the regular season to a Toronto Blue Jays team he had historically dominated. Not the way the Red Sox wanted to send their ace into the postseason.
Despite a rocky finish, Sale still finished among the top two in the league in virtually every category. He led the majors with 308 strikeouts and a 12.93 K/9, while making a valiant run at Pedro Martinez‘ single-season franchise strikeout record.
Sale ranked second in the league with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 6.0 pitching WAR. His 17 wins were fourth in the league and only one short of the league-leading total.
While he’s never won a Cy Young before, Sale has finished within the top-six on the ballot in each of the last five seasons. The closest he came was a third-place finish in 2014. Sale should get a step closer by finishing second, but ultimately his second-half fade will cost him the hardware.