I probably don’t need to go into a lot of detail about Chris Sale. We all know he has been filthy since our last update. Let’s take a look at where Sale ranks compared to other starting pitchers.
-He is third in the AL in ERA just behind C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver with an ERA of 2.46. Just behind Sale in the fourth and fifth place spots for AL ERA leaders are Brandon McCarthy and Justin Verlander, who are clearly some pretty good company.
-Sale is one of four AL starting pitchers with a WHIP less than 1.000. He currently sits 4th at 0.996. The pitchers ahead of him at, in descending order, Weaver, Peavy, and Verlander.
-Sale leads the AL in ERA+ at 172 where league average is 100.
-Sale has given up more than 3 earned runs in only 1 of his 12 starts this season.
Basically what I am trying to say is that Sale has been as dominant as some of the best starting pitchers in the AL in his first year in the rotation. The only concern will be how his elbow holds up over the course of the season. With a medical staff led by Herm Schneider and with pitching coach Don Cooper, I am confident that they will closely monitor Sale’s health and keep him in as good of shape as possible over the remainder of the season. If the Sox are in contention, as is expected, come September, Ventura and Cooper will have a tough decision on their hands as they have said that there would be an innings limit on Sale this year.
Daniel Bard has not been so successful since our last update. He was actually demoted to Boston’s Triple-A affiliate to work on his control, which was his biggest issue in his short stint as a big league starter. In 7 starts since the beginning of May until his demotion at the beginning of June, Bard walked 27 batters. Over the course of the season so far he had already walked a total of 37 batters compared to striking out only 34 in 55 innings of work. This is why he gave up at least 4 runs in 5 of his 10 starts and only lasted more than 5.1 innings in 4 of his outings. Bard is struggling in Triple-A as well. Over 7.1 innings over 5 games, which included 1 start, Bard has given up 6 runs. He has decreased his walks though having only given a free pass to 2 batters. He has also struck out 10 batters.
It’s difficult to get a read on how he is doing given that the majority of his appearances in Triple-A have come in relief. It also seems as though his performances have been kind of up and down so far. Last week he pitched two scoreless innings in relief, but just yesterday he threw two wild pitches and blew the save for in the ninth. Additionally, it is an extremely small sample size. However, at this point I think we can safely say that this has been a failed experiment given that Bard is not even pitching in the majors at this point.
Neftali Feliz is another pitcher on this list who is not currently pitching for his major league ball club. However, he is not pitching due to a stint on the disabled list, unlike Bard. Feliz was put on the disabled list at the end of May after pitching his worst start of the season, in terms of command, where he walked 5 batters. He complained of elbow soreness after his 4.2 innings of work in this game and was put on the DL after MRIs confirmed that he had a UCL sprain. He was only supposed to be shut down for about a month but it’s looking like he is going be out for the entire first half and maybe more.
Given the addition of Roy Oswalt, who makes his first start for Texas tomorrow against Colorado, it is unclear what role Feliz will fill upon his return. Up until he was put on the disabled list, he was pitching pretty well. Like Bard, he did have is own problems with control. In only one start did nobody walk. In every outing he walked at least 2 batters and even walked 6 in one 5 inning outing against Toronto at the beginning of May.
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding Feliz’s healthy and role for the remainder of the season. It seems unlikely that he will return to the rotation once he is reactivated making this another failed conversion experiment, at least for this season.
Finally we reach another pitcher who is actually still starting. Samardzija has started 13 games thus far and has given up 3 or less runs in 10 of them. He has also walked 2 or less in 10 starts. He strikes out a bunch of batters as well (9.0 per 9 IP). Samardzija has been right around league average for 78 innings thus far, which is more than more of the other Cubs starters can say. I don’t really have much else to say about the pitcher that hit The King in the eye with a wild splitter.