There was a great disturbance in the fantasy baseball force at the start of 2016 when Chris Sale declared he was looking to be more efficient in 2016 with his pitches. By season's end, Sale struck out at least 10 batters just four times, matching his career low from 2012 when he threw 34 fewer innings and made three fewer starts than in 2016. This came on the heels of 2015, when he struck out 10 or more 13 times. He still carried a 9.3 K/9 and was as stingy as ever with walks. How does moving from The Cell to Fenway Park affect him? Fenway is also hitter-friendly, but he's pitched in dangerous conditions for home games throughout his career. Of course, his numbers won't rival those of the top NL aces, considering he's had an ERA over 3.30 in back-to-back seasons. He is the best real-life rotation arm in the American League, which makes him good enough to scrape the top five or, more comfortably, top 10 fantasy starters.
Sale will make his first Grapefruit League spring start March 6 against the Astros, Scott Lauber of ESPN.com reports. The southpaw has impressed his new skipper early on in spring and he will have plenty of time to get himself ready for the regular season and acclimated with his new club. Manager John John Farrell hasn't yet announced a starter for Opening Day, but Sale is a strong candidate for the assignment.
Sale threw 30 pitches in a live batting practice session, his first one as a member of the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. Sale impressed Boston manager John Farrell who noted the left-hander's ability to hit various parts of the strike zone, while the pitcher emphasized that it's all about process at this stage of spring training and getting himself prepared for the regular season. Farrell hasn't declared any order to his rotation, but Sale is a strong candidate to start Opening Day.
The White Sox agreed to trade Sale to the Red Sox on Tuesday for four prospects, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. After the field was narrowed down the Red Sox, Nationals and Braves, Boston ultimately won the Sale sweepstakes with a package headlined by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. Sale finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young voting for the fourth consecutive season, posting a 3.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 233:45 K:BB. He's under team control for three more seasons with team options for 2018 and 2019.
Sale (17-9) allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out seven over seven innings in a win Tuesday over Tampa Bay. Sale has now thrown quality starts in all but one of his past nine starts and has walked either one or zero batters in all but two of those outings. However, Sale has been a bit susceptible to the home run battle in this stretch. He has now allowed seven home runs in those nine starts and 25 in 31 starts on the season as a whole. His 3.21 ERA ranks seventh in the American League, and if not for his troubles keeping the ball in the yard, Sale could be the leader himself.
Sale (16-9) suffered an embarrassing loss Wednesday against the Phillies. He allowed six runs on seven hits while striking out five in four innings. Wednesday marked Sale's second-shortest outing of the season, but was arguably his most humiliating performance of 2016. Entering the game, the Phillies owned MLB's second-worst team batting average (.238) and ranked dead last in team OPS (.682). Sale had pitched at least eight innings in each of his previous five starts, owning a 1.50 ERA while notching 50 strikeouts over 42 innings. The left-hander will look to forget this lackluster effort when he makes his next start Tuesday at home against the Rays.