Chris Sale may register a wiry six-foot-six, 180 pounds, but he’s throwing like Godzilla. Friday night, the White Sox southpaw pulled out his flamethrower and managed 14 strikeouts in eight innings of effort, although the intimidating Florida native received a no-decision thanks to closer David Robertson’s late-inning mismanagement. The Elias Sports Bureau is going bonkers pulling out records for Sale to beat, but the 26-year young Southsider would much rather have a W instead of being told he’s 647th all-time in career strikeouts. Sale’s historic run could see him break century-old records and command high pay for a team heading for the basement — again.
Since the modern era of record keeping began in 1900, only The Big Unit (Randy Johnson) and Pedro Martinez managed to whiff at least 12 batters in five straight contests. Should he whiff 12 batters against Minnesota on Wednesday, he will stand alone in the record books. Also, that would mean Sale would have struck out at least 10 over seven games, which would leave him two shy of shattering Pedro’s record of eight consecutive games. After Minnesota, Sale gets St. Louis (.229 against Sale) and Baltimore (.223 versus the lefty) to break more records against.
Sale, utilizing his four-seamer and wicked curve pitches, continues to increase his k/9 inning rate like no other starter. He’s struck out one batter in each of the last 35 innings, currently the longest streak in the majors. With an incredible 10.85 inch horizontal ball movement rate, he’s creating a 48.13 percent swing-miss rate, good for 27th all-time. In fact, Sale has racked up more swings and misses in his last six games than nearly 500 pitchers in MLB have managed all year — and we’re just around the halfway point. Wow.
While not many of his strikeout clinics are winding up wins for Chicago, Sale is perhaps the last individual to point the finger. A respectable 6-3 record, coupled with his 2.77 ERA and .94 WHIP, should give him AL ASG consideration, even though he missed his first start due to fatigue, regardless of how many wins have been blown by relievers or lackadaisical plate performances. While the world watches in amazement of Sale’s accomplishments, the White Sox have dwindled in the standings and will probably be sellers before the trade deadline.
Minnesota, where his string of 10 strikeout games began, is the only team standing in his way. He’s lasted an average of 5.1 innings and fanned around seven per contest this year against Minnesota. Should Sale amass 12 strikeouts against the Twins, the next record he’d shoot for is Mickey Lolich’s all-time AL lefty strikeout record, sitting at 2,679.
[Photo by Duane Burleson / Getty Images]