Rockin' a skull full of waves, four frames with his chain.
There exists a pantheon in Chicago White Sox franchise history when it comes to starting pitchers. This pantheon is a septet, consisting of three Hall of Famers, one who would have been if not for a foolish choice, an under-appreciated knuckleballer, an overshadowed southpaw, and the perfect son. There have been other good pitchers for the franchise, some great ones even, but none with the combined longevity and skill that match these seven.
And while it's incredibly early in his career and a million different (and mostly horrible) things could happen between now and then, an eighth member stands to breathe in that rarefied air atop Mound Comiskey.
In mixed time between the bullpen and the rotation, Sale has amassed 247.1 innings pitched with a 2.62 ERA, a 165 ERA+, and has been worth 8.7 bWAR. 8.7 bWAR in what amounts to 1.25 seasons! That's insane! In his first season as a starter, Sale has pitched 152 innings over 22 starts. That comes out to just shy of seven innings per start. In that frame he's managed to win 15 games, strike out 150 hitters, and walk only 36. That's 5.4 bWAR right there.
This is one of those moments where you're watching a young god practice. So far it's been like watching Mozart compose or Bobby Fischer crush the Soviets. You're not supposed to be this good while still young. And that's the terrifying part. Goose Gossage sits in 50th place in franchise history for pitchers in bWAR with 9.3. It took him 584.2 innings to get there. Chris Sale is only 0.6 bWAR away from cracking the top 50. He's managed to pull that off in 247.1 innings.
He's on pace to finish somewhere around 7 bWAR. If you want to get picky, I'd say anywhere from 6.5-7.5 and feel comfortable. I like 7.0 because I'm a fan of round numbers. That 10.3 would have him in 41st place, just ahead of Roberto Hernandez, all before he's even arbitration eligible.
In the past thirty years, White Sox pitchers have only had five seasons more valuable than what Sale has managed to accomplish thus far. And it's not even September. Esteban Loaiza and his miracle 2003 season set the bar at 6.9 bWAR. Remember how I said Sale should hit 7.0 last paragraph? That would tie him for the 19th most valuable season from a pitcher in franchise history with Eddie Cicotte's 1913 season. Knuckles was 29-years-old that season. Sale is 23.
Over his next few starts he will pass 2001 Mark Buehrle (5.7, 39th), 2007 Mark Buehrle and Javy Vazquez (5.9, 32nd), and 2008 John Danks (6.1, 26th). We're watching the ground floor of a guy who could conceivably be competing with seasons (adjusted for league and park factors) with Red Faber and Ed Walsh in the very near future. Sale is 1-2 seasons away from passing Vazquez, Freddy Garcia, Juan Pizarro, Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilson Alvarez, Jon Garland, Britt Burns, and Danks in value produced. A year after that he'll leave my childhood hero Jack McDowell in the dust. If you haven't realized what Colin's been telling you all season, now is the time to listen. We're watching something beautiful here. Stop to smell the fucking roses.