Were it not for those pesky New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale could be coasting to an AL Cy Young Award as opposed to fighting for it in the season’s final month. The lefty took the mound in yesterday’s season series finale at Yankee Stadium and lasted just 4.1 innings as New York wound up taking 3 of 4 from Boston.
It was yet another case of Sale failing to defeat his team’s most hated rival and dropped his record to 15-7 on the season. The Red Sox’s lead in the AL East was also trimmed to 3.5 games, making the race between the two squad’s anybody’s game as we enter the home stretch.
Needless to say, with talented arms like the Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber and New York’s own Luis Severino nipping at his heels, Sale’s inability to solve the Bronx Bombers this year could be what costs him the AL Cy Young.
Sale and the Yankees
This isn’t to say that Sale has become one of those pitchers that just can’t beat the Yankees. In fact, for his career, he has a 1.75 ERA against New York to go with a 4-4 record. Considering how three of those losses have come this season, those numbers are still pretty fantastic.
And to be fair, despite being 0-3 against the Yankees this season, Sale has still not been god awful when facing the Bronx Bombers. He has posted a 2.65 ERA in his five starts versus New York along with a 1.05 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 34 innings, so his struggles can primarily be attributed to a combination of bad luck on the mound and poor run support from his team. Boston averaged less than two runs across those five games, so Sale is not entirely at fault.
Sale was, however, at fault in his last two starts against the Yankees. The lefty took the loss in both of those games and posted an atrocious 5.67 ERA, basically stumbling at a time when Boston was in a position to widen its lead in the divisional race.
Nobody has really said it yet, but these losses could wind up costing Sale when it comes time to vote for major awards, be it the AL Cy Young or even AL MVP.
Sale’s awards standing
Now, when push comes to shove, Sale has still had an amazing season in spite of his New York struggles and is still the clear favorite for the AL Cy Young. His 2.85 ERA ranks second in the league behind Kluber’s 2.56 mark and his 275 strikeouts lead the Majors by a wide margin.
Sale has also posted an incredible 5.6 WAR in 2017 and has twice made history. Just a few days ago, he became the fastest player to reach 1,500 career strikeouts. Back in July, he was the fastest in AL history to record 200 strikeouts in a season. The man’s performance speaks for itself.
But the fact of the matter is that we’re at a point in the season where every start counts and when it comes to the Cy Young Award, Sale is starting to stumble. He posted a 4.38 ERA in August and, as we saw yesterday, did not get off to a strong September start. His next two starts will be against a pesky Tampa Bay Rays team that has beaten Boston six times already this year, so it truly is put up or shut up time for not only Sale but also his team.
The fact of the matter is that if Sale wants to seal his victory in any and all awards races, he simply has to win each of his remaining starts. No losses, no no-decisions, wins only. It doesn’t even matter if he gets locked in a pitcher’s duel, the fact that Kluber has been as strong as he has makes him a legitimate threat to steal the AL Cy Young in spite of lower strikeout numbers.
And all because, for some reason or another, Chris Sale could not solve the second-half slumping New York Yankees.
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