Chris Sale is Creeping Back Into the Cy Young Conversation

Believe it or not, but Chris Sale has never won a Cy Young award. Since entering the league, Boston’s ace has been nothing short of dominant year in and year out. His highest earned run average came in 2015 with the Chicago White Sox, when he posted a 3.41 with 13 wins and 11 losses. And he still messed around and placed fourth on the Cy Young ballot and earned an All-Star selection.

In his eight seasons as a starting pitcher, Chris Sale has appeared on the Cy Young ballot Chris Salesix times and finished as the runner-up last year in his first season with the Red Sox. He’s been named to the All-Star team in each of those seasons as well, and it’s only a matter of time before he takes home the most coveted pitching award in the MLB. On Sunday, Sale was announced as an All-Star for the seventh straight year. While he came out of the gates a bit shaky this year, Chris Sale’s recent performances has him right back where he belongs: firmly in the conversation for the best pitcher in the American League.

Last season, Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians took home the honor, and he deserved it. He went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and led his club to a first place finish in the AL Central. Kluber had the lowest WHIP (0.869) of any starter on the ballot, and the second most strikeouts (265). Who had the most strikeouts you ask? That would be Chris Sale, whose 308 punchouts comfortably led the entire MLB. The next closest was NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer with 268.

Chris Sale’s Competition

Sale’s competition this year will feature some familiar, and talented, names. Yankee ace Luis Severino, who placed third in voting last year, is building a strong case with his 14-2 record, 143 Ks, and 2.12 ERA, the second-best in the American League. Justin Verlander is emerging as an early favorite to take home his second career Cy Young with his 2.15 ERA and 154 strikeouts. Kluber, at 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA, will likely return to the ballot as well.

In comparison, the Red Sox ace leads the American League in strikeouts with 176, 18 ahead of Gerrit Cole’s tally of 158. His 2.36 ERA ranks fourth in the American League, and his WHIP of 0.89 is good for third, with Kluber (0.88) and Verlander (0.84) just edging him out. Lastly, Sale leads the AL in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.0, and if it holds this would be the fourth season he has done so.

Where Chris Sale will falter to his competition will be his record, as he is just 9-4 on the year. However, his wins and losses serve as a poor reflection of his performance this year. The Red Sox seemingly hate giving their ace any sort of run support. On the year, the Red Sox average 4.65 runs in games started by Sale, and it’s reflected in his four losses and an additional six no-decisions. Granted, I’m not saying Chris Sale has been perfect, but I am saying some more runs would go a long way.

Back in Form

Sale truly returned to form in June, striking out 60 and going 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA. The Red Sox scored a combined three runs in those two losses. His lone start in July follows the same positive trend, as he punched out 12 and secured a win behind 10 runs from his offense. He has won his last three starts, and, in those games, the Red Sox have scored 26 total runs.

Chris Sale still has some work to do if he wants to take home the honor this year. His slider is still one of the deadliest pitches in the league. He must sustain his recent dominance to keep pace with his competition. This offense has shown they are more than capable of providing run support, and if they simply do so when Sale is on the bump, his case for the American League Cy Young will continue to strengthen.

Sandy Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

The debate over who the greatest pitcher ever was is as old as the game itself. Some say it’s Cy Young because of his 511 wins. Others say it’s Nolan Ryan because of his longevity. But while he’s well known to many, Sandy Koufax doesn’t get the full credit he deserves. That’s partly because he only had six strong seasons. But I argue that those were the greatest six seasons any pitcher has enjoyed in the game of baseball. That makes Koufax the greatest pitcher ever.

Let’s start with just a few of Koufax’s accolades. He was a six-time All-Star. The mangreatest pitcher ever threw FOUR no-hitters, including a perfect game. He was a two-time World Series MVP. He was the 1963 National League MVP when he pitched 11 shutouts. That’s just for starters. Let’s take a look at his actual numbers.

Koufax had 2,396 career strikeouts in just twelve seasons. After twelve years in the majors, Nolan Ryan had 2,686. That’s just 290 more than Koufax had after twelve years. So imagine if Koufax had played for twenty-seven seasons like Ryan did. In fact, while Ryan holds the single-season strikeout record with 383, that’s just ONE more than Koufax’s original record. In other words, only a pitcher like Nolan Ryan could top Koufax, and that’s just barely. While many will argue that Ryan is better, Ryan played twenty-seven seasons in the majors, longer than anyone else. Ryan also never won a Cy Young Award while Koufax won three. So if you put their best years side by side with each other, Koufax edges out Ryan not just quantitatively, but through sheer dominance in the regular and postseasons.

Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

According to ESPN, Koufax would have finished a longer career with 334 wins, 4,377 strikeouts, and a 2.76 ERA. And that’s only if he’d played another eleven seasons. It’s hard to tell what he would have done if he’d gotten Tommy John surgery and continued to play (it wasn’t around yet).

There are those who say Koufax’s first six years keep him from standing as the greatest pitcher ever. They have a worthy argument. Koufax only won 36 games in his first six seasons, an average of six wins a season. He was wild on the mound during those first six years too. But how many pitchers can anyone point to and cite the dramatic turnaround Koufax had between 1960 and 1961?

Through strikeouts, dependability, and sheer dominance, Koufax was the greatest pitcher ever.

I’m Losing My Patience With David Price

On December 7, 2015, the Boston Red Sox inked David Price to a seven-year, $217 million dollar contract. And Red Sox Nation rejoiced, myself included. Was it justified? Of course it was. Price, a 3-time All-Star, and 2012 Cy Young Award recipient was one of the best starting pitchers on the free agent market at the time. Zack Greinke was the other, and recently hired general manager Dave Dombrowski had his sights set on bringing an ace to his new ballclub.

He did just that. Boston’s new GM, notorious for flashy transactions, signed the 29-year-David Priceold southpaw to the most lucrative deal for a starting pitcher in MLB history. David Price’s extravagant contract, with a $31 million annual salary, was also the largest deal in franchise history and seemed to fill Boston’s vacancy at Ace for years to come.

At the time, rolling out the Brinks truck for Price made sense. A lot of sense. The Sox were on the heels of two straight last-place finishes in the AL East, and the recent acquisitions of Dombrowski and closer Craig Kimbrel marked a new era of baseball in Beantown.

Now fast forward three years. Price, now 32 and in the third year of his contract, missed his last start after getting diagnosed with what the team called “a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome”. It wasn’t just any start though. It was game two in a road series against the Yankees with the division lead, and the MLB’s best record, at stake. And it wasn’t just any diagnosis either. There is significant speculation that it may be related to excessive time spent playing video games, namely Fortnite.

Price has since said that the setback is unrelated to his gaming habits and that he will stop playing Fortnite in the clubhouse. Manager Alex Cora showed his support by downplaying the notion as well, and they are likely correct from a medical standpoint. However, the speculation alone is frustrating enough. Video games should not be in conversations about $217 million dollar pitchers missing starts against division rivals.

David Price is a Repeat Offender

Now, if this was the first or even second blemish on Price’s tenure, it would be a different story. But that is far from the case. The tingling sensation in Price’s hands, which led to his recent diagnosis, also forced him out of a game in April. Which, coincidence or not, was also against the New York Yankees.

And we all know about his conflict with Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley last season, where he cursed at the Hall of Fame pitcher and refused to apologize in the aftermath. Price went on to go 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 2017 and finished the season in a relief role. He has started 2018 with a 2-4 record and a 5.11 ERA in seven starts. He threw a limited bullpen on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s start. Cora is hopeful that Price will be ready for his next scheduled start on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Price keeps finding ways to make headlines, but not for the right reasons. Frustration is growing towards Boston’s controversial pitcher, and patience is shrinking. It’s time for Price to start making headlines on the field and regain the form that the Red Sox paid $217 million dollars for.

 

David Price’s Attitude Is Child-Like

It’s the same old story for David Price, the stage is just a little smaller. Instead of tweeting from the clubhouse at Fenway Park, he is ignoring his problems in the friendly confines of Pawtucket, RI. But Pawtucket hasn’t been kind to Price. His recent actions have just David Price's attitudereinforced what we already knew: David Price’s attitude makes him look like a 12-year-old.

Price’s rehab starts for Pawtucket were highly anticipated as the Red Sox need him in the rotation like humans need air to breathe. Unfortunately for the Red Sox and their fans, they may be on a planet without oxygen. Put simply: Price has SUCKED.

After a mediocre first start where he only lasted two innings, he found a way to make it worse Wednesday. He went three and two-thirds, giving up six runs on seven hits and throwing 89 pitches. To make matters worse, Price left McCoy Stadium before talking to the media. Yes, he sped away in a $200,000 truck so jacked-up it resembles a tank and is aptly named the “General Patton.”

Amazingly, Price somehow navigated Route 93 through his tears, trying desperately to avoid the media. This is not high school. Frankly, this isn’t even the rest of the major league cities. The Boston sports media has tamed a lot over the last decade and yet Price still can’t handle it. There are beat writers who would lick off his own tears, but he had to dip out of a game early to avoid those monsters. God forbid we want to know why a Cy Young winner is getting lit up by a team called the Louisville Bats. How dare we.

David Price’s Attitude is Nothing New

This is only the latest in the teenage soap opera that has been Price’s Red Sox career. He has not been able to handle reporters bringing up his horrendous playoff resume and a lackluster 2016 season. Price has done interviews solely to show he cares for his teammates and that he has had it rough. If his thirst for being liked was the same as his thirst for winning playoff games, he’d be the second coming of Cy Young himself.

If Price thinks he has had it tough here, boy is he dumb. Carl Crawford had it tough. J.D. Drew had it tough. John Lackey had it ten times more tough than David Price has ever had it. Lackey was actually atrocious his first two seasons and was absolutely destroyed for it in the media. Now that is a guy who had a reason to complain. How did he answer it? He was great in 2013 and won the World Series. Price left a minor league game early in a tank!

Unfortunately, this is something we’re gonna have to deal with. He could opt out after next year but that is looking less and less likely. He certainly isn’t gonna change. He’s gonna tweet, he’s gonna do these dumb puff pieces in Boston Magazine, and he’s gonna complain. He hates Boston and Boston is gonna really start hating him back if he doesn’t just grow up.

David: your voice is deeper, your acne is gone; it’s not that scary to answer some questions after a crappy start. So just get over it.

Clay Buchholz Disabled List Day

Clay Buccholz Disabled List Day—an annual tradition in which we see Buccholz show signs of why many could consider him a top of the rotation guy. But then, out of nowhere…BAM! Off to another stint on the disabled list. Let’s take a walk down memory Disabled List Boundlane shall we?

2008: 15-day DL: Right fingernail tear (blister); Games missed: 16

2010: 15-day DL: Left hamstring strain; Games missed: 18

2011: 60-day DL: Low back stress fracture; Games missed: 93

2012: 15-day DL: Esophagitis (apparently he doesn’t take his Pepcid AC); Games missed: 20

2013: 60-day DL: Right shoulder bursitis (neck strain); Games missed: 82

2014: 15-day DL: Left knee hyper-extension; Games missed: 28

2015: 15-day DL: Strained flexor muscle in his right elbow; Games missed: Remainder of the season

Cy Young Candidate…off to the disabled list.

It was only 3 years ago when in 2013, Potential Cy Young Award leader Buchholz was 9-0 on the season with a league leading 1.71 ERA. Amazing right? But, wait, spoiler alert! He ended up on the DL retroactive to June 9th.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but if you have a pitcher who’s consistently injured on a what seems to be year round basis, why the hell is he still with this team? For starters, his contract. Buchholz had a $13 million dollar club option for 2016 that Dave Dombrowski chose to renew. For a pitcher (when healthy) who has shown the ability to not only win, but pitch effectively, the upside is worth the $13 million dollar contract.

Personally, I love Buchholz. I love him so much that for some odd reason I hold out hope that he will some day become the Ace of the Red Sox. I hold out hope that he will win the coveted Cy Young Award. Hell, I even hold out hope that he’ll throw another no-hitter like he did in 2007. But, then I come back down to reality and realize none of those things are never, ever, ever going to happen.

I’m sure many of those in Red Sox Nation would agree with me that the Clay Buchholz who we thought was going to be a superstar in Boston is long gone and that we are now left to watch a kid who had so much talent literally wilt away a few weeks into the season. Clay’s going to go out onto that mound every 5th day and compete, maybe throw 6,7 even 8 quality innings and get a few wins under his belt. But, Clay is also going to somehow end up with a pulled shoulder, a blister, or another bout of heartburn and end up on the good ol’ DL train. And this time around I don’t foresee that train ever coming back into Fenway Park station after the 2016 season.

So Clay, here’s to you! I hope nothing but the best for you this year, but I also hope this is the last year I have to see you in a Red Sox uniform.