After a rare blow-up in an otherwise consistent season, Chris Sale returned to form Wednesday night against Houston as the Chicago White Sox won 6-1. Sale cruised to his tenth victory, allowing just five hits and one run over eight innings. Sale also racked up 12 strikeouts, bringing his season total to 193 (a career high).
Sale has made his case as a top five starter this season. So far he has managed to improve on his outstanding numbers from last season. Sale currently holds a 2.99 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
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With Sale about to cross the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career, perhaps the White Sox should consider easing up a bit. Sale is already a long shot for the Cy Young Award due to his poor win total, and young pitchers are dropping on a regular basis with arm troubles. The White Sox are well out of contention, so I think it is at least worth discussing.
It seems that at least one talented young pitcher has been forced to have Tommy John surgery in every recent year. (Zimmerman 2009, Strasburg 2010, Wainwright 2011, Beachy 2012). Matt Harvey may be the newest victim of the infamous surgery. And although it seems safer now, there’s still plenty of risk. Former Sox pitcher Daniel Hudson just had his second Tommy John surgery since 2012, after re-tearing his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in June.
As a fan, I’d like the White Sox to remain cautious. Of course there’s no guarantee that Sale will experience arm trouble in the future. But there is always the possibility. The risk of losing Sale for any period of time is not worth whatever there is to gain in this last month of the season.
I suspect that the White Sox will continue to trot out their young ace as they attempt to spoil the playoff hopes for some AL teams. They will head into Boston this weekend with a 16-11 record in August.