The 2014 all-star rosters are nearly complete, and one notable lefty has been snubbed: Chris Sale. While he still may be elected through the ‘Final Vote’ ballot, his numbers describe a definitively elite starter – a 2.16 ERA (2.49 FIP), and a minute 0.87 WHIP paired with stellar 9.89 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.65 walks per nine innings. He missed a handful of starts due to a strained flexor muscle, but Sale still amassed 87.1 innings pitched, including two complete games for the White Sox. His résumé speaks volumes, all a product of his simple, yet highly effective repertoire.
Given his wiry 6-foot-6 frame and low arm angle, Sale is able to get an incredible amount of movement on his 93.2 mph two-seam fastball, darting away from right-handed batters. It’s a deadly pitch, one that has already tallied 10.2 runs above average in 2014 for the southpaw. Hitters are forced to prepare themselves for the lively fastball as they step into the box, allowing Sale to get easy strikeouts with an 80.3-mph slider that exhibits vicious movement in the opposite direction of his heater.
Here’s an example of that slider against Robinson Cano during Friday’s game that left Cano spinning in defeat:
The pitch started in the middle of the plate and a little up in the zone – right in the wheelhouse for Cano’s swing – and finished well inside the batter’s box. This extreme movement mixed with an electric fastball that bites the hands of left-handed hitters creates very uncomfortable at-bats even for all-stars, such as Cano. It’s a filthy one-two punch that should send Chris Sale to Minnesota.
Nick Pollack writes for Pitcher GIFs and can found making an excessive amount of GIFs on Twitter @PitcherGIFs.
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