Boston Red Sox starting pitcher stat predictions for the 2022 season
Red Sox SP: Chris Sale
Chris Sale may have returned from Tommy John surgery in August of last season, but the Chris Sale hasn’t been seen in two years. The man who was once considered the most untouchable man in baseball allowed hits at a higher rate than at any point in his career. His 11.0 K/9 was the lowest as a Red Sox, while his 2.5 BB/9 was his highest since 2012.
Sale has always leaned on his elite three-pitch mix to overwhelm hitters, but one of those offering was clearly not the same in 2021. Sale’s changeup was downright batting practice, as opposing batters hit .444 and slugged .677 against the pitch. Sale was pretty much a two-pitch pitcher, and with a fastball that lost a mile and a half since 2018, he wasn’t able to miss bats at nearly the same rate.
What Sale really needed was a normal spring training to begin to build back his once-elite repertoire. That plan went out the window, however, when a rib injury sidelined the lanky lefty before the exhibition games even began. It will be a while before we see Sale on the mound, as Sale still has no timetable for resuming throwing activities. This will be the fifth straight season that Sale misses significant time, and the former ace is losing trust with Red Sox management and fans alike with every successive injury.
The days of Sale absolutely overpowering hitters may be over, but that doesn’t mean that he still can’t be effective. Even with diminished stuff, Sale was still a well-above-average pitcher in 2021. Sale posted an ERA+ of 150 last season despite numerous blow-ups, meaning he was 50 percent better than the average pitcher.
It was unfair for anyone to expect Sale to be 100% after two years of rust, and his last two starts against the Astros showed improved fastball velocity and a sharper breaking ball. There’s a lot of ways Sale’s 2022 season can go, but if he comes back from this latest injury fully healthy, it’s hard not to see him as a frontline starting pitcher.
Stat Predictions: 6-4, 3.42 ERA, 97 IP ,11.3 K/9, 2.7 BB