Sale with the Red Sox in 2017
|Boston Red Sox – No. 41|
|Born: March 30, 1989|
|August 6, 2010, for the Chicago White Sox|
|MLB statistics |
(through August 13, 2019)
|Earned run average||3.03|
|Career highlights and awards|
Christopher Allen Sale (born March 30, 1989) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Chicago White Sox, with whom he made his major league debut on August 6, 2010. As a power pitcher, Sale excels at achieving high numbers of strikeouts, and has set a number of strikeout-related records. He bats and throws left-handed, stands 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m), and weighs 180 pounds (82 kg).
A seven-time MLB All-Star from 2012 to 2018, Sale is a two-time American League (AL) leader in strikeouts, including in 2015 and 2017. As of 2017, he is MLB's career leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.32), and reached 1,500 strikeouts in the second fewest innings pitched (1,290). After reaching 300 strikeouts in a single season for the first time in 2017, he was selected as the AL Sporting News Starting Pitcher of the Year. Although he has yet to win a Cy Young Award, in each of his All-Star seasons, he has placed in the top six.
A native of Lakeland, Florida, located within the Tampa Bay Area, Sale played college baseball for Florida Gulf Coast University. The Chicago White Sox selected him 13th overall in the 2010 amateur draft. He was a key member of the Red Sox pitching rotation that helped the team win the 2018 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Under contract with Boston through 2024, Sale underwent Tommy John surgery in late March 2020 and is expected to require 14 to 15 months for recovery and rehabilitation.
Sale was born in Lakeland, Florida. He graduated from Lakeland Senior High School, where he played basketball and baseball. After his senior year for the Dreadnaughts, Sale was drafted in the 21st round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies, but chose not to sign and instead attended Florida Gulf Coast University.
Sale played college baseball for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles baseball team under head coach Dave Tollett. During the 2010 season at FGCU, Sale posted an 11–0 win–loss record and a 2.01 ERA over 17 games. Sale pitched 103 innings while recording 146 strikeouts and 14 walks. He led the NCAA in strikeouts at the end of the regular season. He was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. He is one of four Eagles to play in the major leagues, along with pitchers Jacob Barnes, Richard Bleier, and Casey Coleman.
Like many top college players, Sale spent the NCAA offseason pitching in wooden bat summer leagues. In 2008, he was an All-Star for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League, and it was during his time in Wisconsin that coaches suggested he adopt his now distinctive low three-quarter arm angle. In the summer of 2009, Sale pitched for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He had a record of 4–2 and an earned run average of 1.47 with Yarmouth-Dennis, with 57 strikeouts as well. Sale was named the MVP of the East Division squad in the Cape Cod All-Star Game, and received the league's Outstanding Pitcher award.
Draft and minors
Sale was drafted by the White Sox with the 13th overall selection in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Once Sale signed with the White Sox in 2010, he was assigned to the White Sox' Class A affiliate Winston-Salem Dash. Sale pitched in four games for the Dash with a 2.25 ERA in four innings. Sale gave up three hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out four during his tenure with the Dash. Sale was then promoted to the White Sox' triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights. While there, Sale pitched in seven games for the Knights with a 2.84 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. Sale gave up three hits and two earned runs while walking four and striking out 15 while with the Knights.
Chicago White Sox
Sale was called up to the majors for the first time on August 4, 2010, and made his MLB debut August 6, against the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth inning. He was the first 2010 draft pick to be promoted to the majors and got his first major league save on September 1, 2010, against the Cleveland Indians. In 21 appearances in his rookie year, Sale went 2–1 with a 1.93 ERA, 32 strikeouts, and 4 saves.
During 2011, Sale made 58 appearances out of the bullpen with a 2–2 record, a 2.79 ERA, 8 saves, and 79 strikeouts.
Sale made the transition to a starting pitcher for the 2012 season. On May 28, Sale struck out a career high 15 batters in seven and one-third innings during a 2–1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Sale's 15 strikeouts are tied for second most in franchise history with Eddie Cicotte, Ed Walsh, and Jim Scott. Jack Harshman holds the White Sox team record with 16 strikeouts in a game. Sale was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for the month of May with a record of 4–1, an ERA of 1.71, 35 strikeouts and a .181 opponents' average over six games.
During the 2012 season, Sale compiled a 17–8 record, a 3.05 ERA, and 192 strikeouts in 192 innings pitched. He ended up finishing sixth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.
On March 7, 2013, Sale and the White Sox agreed on a five-year, $32 million contract with two option years depending on the team.
On May 12, 2013, Sale threw a one-hit shutout during a 3–0 Sox victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Sale took a perfect game into the seventh inning. With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Mike Trout singled up the middle for the only hit of the game. Sale finished the game with 7 strikeouts and no walks, allowing Trout as the only base runner. Sale began the 2013 season with a 6–8 record and a 2.85 ERA. He was named an All-Star for the 2nd season in a row. Sale came on to pitch for the 2nd and 3rd innings, allowing no hits, no runs, no walks and striking out two NL hitters. He was named the winning pitcher for the American League, which won the game 3–0.
In 30 starts of the 2013 season, Sale had an AL-leading 4 complete games, an 11–14 record, 226 strikeouts, and a 3.07 ERA in 214.1 innings pitched. He received one of the lowest run supports in the AL. Sale ended up finishing in fifth place in Cy Young votes for 2013.
On April 21, Sale was placed on the 15-day disabled list after sustaining a flexor strain in his left (pitching) elbow. During his first start off the disabled list against the New York Yankees on May 22, 2014, Sale retired the first 17 batters in a row before allowing a single by Zoilo Almonte. He struck out 10 in 6 innings pitched as the White Sox won the game 3–2. During a game against the Angels on June 7, 2014, Sale had a 5–0 lead but surrendered 5 runs all in the 7th inning that featured a grand slam by Mike Trout. Sale continued his dominance on the mound, winning eight of his first nine decisions and carrying an 8–1 record and 2.08 ERA into the All-Star break.
After not initially making the All-Star roster, Sale was voted into the game by fans (alongside Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo) as part of the "Final Vote." Sale joined all-star teammates Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramírez in the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
Sale finished the season with a 12–4 record, 208 strikeouts in 174 innings pitched, and a 2.17 ERA, second best in the American League. He finished third in voting for the AL Cy Young award, behind winner Corey Kluber and Félix Hernández.
Sale started the 2015 year on the disabled list due to a foot injury. He returned on April 12, pitching 6 innings with 8 strikeouts in a 6–2 victory over the Minnesota Twins. During a game against the Kansas City Royals on April 23, 2015, Sale was warned by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook after hitting Mike Moustakas with a pitch. Later on, Sale was involved in a bench-clearing brawl after his teammate Adam Eaton grounded out to Yordano Ventura. Sale was one of five players to be ejected for his role in the brawl as the White Sox lost to the Royals 2–3 in 13 innings. On April 25, Sale was suspended for 5 games.
In a June 8 win over the Houston Astros, Sale struck out 14 batters. On June 19, Sale had his 5th consecutive game with 12 or more strikeouts, tying a major league record. Also, on June 19, Sale had his 6th consecutive game with 10 or more strikeouts. On June 30 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sale struck out 12 batters to tie a major league record with his eighth consecutive start of 10 or more strikeouts. He shared the record with Pedro Martínez, who accomplished the feat while pitching for the Boston Red Sox in 1999.
On October 2, versus the Detroit Tigers, Sale set the franchise record for number of strikeouts in a season. The previous record of 269 strikeouts in a season was held by Hall of Famer Ed Walsh in 1908. He accomplished the feat in 464 innings, while Sale's 270th strikeout came in the midst of his 203rd inning of 2015. He finished the season 13–11 with a 3.41 ERA, and led the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings (11.82) and hit by pitch (13).
Sale began the 2016 season winning each of his first 9 starts. He entered the All-Star Break with a 14–3 record (12 quality starts), an ERA of 3.38, and a WHIP of 1.04. Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost named him the starter for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In the All Star Game, Sale pitched one inning and gave up a home run to Chicago Cub Kris Bryant.
On July 23, prior to a game against the Detroit Tigers, the White Sox were set to wear throwback uniforms based on the design implemented by Bill Veeck during his second ownership of the White Sox. Sale was not pleased about the idea, as he felt the pullover jerseys were too baggy and interfered with his pitching mechanics, and this prompted him to use scissors to tear up the throwback uniforms that had been laid out in the clubhouse while the rest of the team was on the field for practice. Shortly after, the White Sox sent Sale home and scratched him from his start that day, and the White Sox took the field in their 1982-86 throwbacks instead. The next day, on July 24, the White Sox suspended Sale for five days. Sale made 32 starts in 2016, finishing with a 17–10 record, a 3.34 ERA, and 233 strikeouts, in 226.2 innings pitched. He also pitched 6 complete games and hit 17 batsmen with pitches, in which both categories led the MLB.
Boston Red Sox
On December 6, 2016, the White Sox traded Sale to the Boston Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. Upon joining Boston, Sale switched his uniform number from 49 to 41 out of respect for Tim Wakefield.
With the 2017 Red Sox, Sale began the season by striking out 10 or more batters in eight consecutive starts, tying the major league record he already shared with Pedro Martínez. After going 11–4 with a 2.75 ERA and an MLB leading 178 strikeouts in the first half of 2017, Sale was named the American League's starting pitcher at the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season, the first pitcher to do so since Randy Johnson started for the National League in 2000 and 2001 and the first for the AL since Dave Stieb in 1983–84. Sale pitched two scoreless innings in the game, striking out two batters. In his second start after the All-Star break, Sale joined Johnson, Martínez and Nolan Ryan as the only four pitchers to have struck out 200 batters in their first 20 starts of a season. Pitching against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 29, Sale recorded his 1,500th career strikeout, becoming the fastest to do so in terms of innings pitched. At that point, he had reached 1,290 innings, surpassing Kerry Wood, who had done so in 1,303 innings. Sale reached 300 strikeouts for the season when he struck out 13 batters on September 20. It was the first 300 strikeout season since Clayton Kershaw in 2015, and the first in the American League since Martínez in 1999.
In 32 starts of 2017, Sale finished with a 17–8 record, a 2.90 ERA, and an MLB-leading 308 strikeouts. He led the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings (12.93). The Red Sox clinched the AL East division with a 93–69 record.
In the first postseason appearance of his MLB career, Sale was the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Houston Astros. He allowed nine hits and seven runs in five innings, taking the loss. Sale then pitched in relief in Game 4, allowing four hits and two runs in 4 2⁄3 innings and again taking the loss, as the Astros eliminated the Red Sox with a 5–4 win. Sale had a postseason ERA of 8.38 while striking out 12 and walking one in 9 2⁄3 innings pitched. Despite being the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award throughout the entire regular season, Sale finished second in the voting behind Corey Kluber, who won the award for a second time. Despite pitching more innings and recording more strikeouts than anyone else in baseball that season, Sale's subpar finish to the season after a blistering start (13–4 with a 2.37 ERA and 211 strikeouts in 148 1⁄3 innings (21 starts) before August 1, but 4–4 with a 4.09 ERA in 66 innings (11 starts) and 13 home runs allowed after August 1) combined with Kluber's masterful run after an abysmal start to the season followed by a month-long stint on the DL (3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 37 1⁄3 innings (six starts) before May 2, but 15–2 with 224 strikeouts, a 1.62 ERA in 166 1⁄3 innings (23 starts), 4 complete games and a 9.74 K/BB ratio after June 1) cost Sale his best chance yet at winning the Cy Young. He did, however, finish 9th in the AL MVP voting, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to finish that high since Pedro Martínez finished fifth in 2000.
Sale was the Opening Day starting pitcher for the 2018 Red Sox. Facing the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, he pitched six innings, giving up just one hit and walking three, while striking out nine. However, the Rays scored six runs in the eighth inning off of Boston's bullpen, defeating the Red Sox, 6–4, and leaving Sale with a no decision. During June, Sale had a 1.76 ERA over six starts and recorded 60 strikeouts in 41 innings; he was named the AL Pitcher of the Month. On July 6, Sale pitched six innings while allowing just one run against the Kansas City Royals, getting the win. It was his ninth win of the season (against four losses), and the 100th win of his MLB career. Two days later, Sale was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game; he was named the AL starting pitcher, for the third consecutive year, on July 16. On July 31, Sale was placed on the disabled list due to left shoulder inflammation; at that point in the season, he had an 11–4 record with 2.04 ERA in 22 starts. He was activated on August 12, and was the winning pitcher of that day's game against Baltimore. On August 18, Sale was again placed on the 10-day disabled list—retroactive to August 15—due to inflammation of the same shoulder. He was activated on September 11, pitching one inning in that day's game against Toronto.
Sale made two appearances, including one start, in the American League Division Series, allowing two earned runs in 6 1⁄3 innings. In the American League Championship Series, he made one appearance, a start, allowing two earned runs in four innings. On October 23, Sale started Game 1 of the World Series for the Red Sox at home at Fenway Park. He pitched four-plus innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out seven in a no decision. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 8–4. During Game 4, with the Red Sox trailing by four runs, Sale gained notoriety for shouting at his teammates in the dugout, imploring them to generate more offense (the team had only one hit through the first six innings). The Red Sox went on to win, 9–6, taking a three games to one lead in the series. In Game 5, Sale became a World Series champion for the first time, closing out the final inning, including a series-ending strikeout of Manny Machado. Overall, in 15 1⁄3 postseason innings he allowed seven earned runs while striking out 24.
On March 23, 2019, Sale signed a five-year, $145 million extension with the Red Sox. Sale earned $15 million in 2019 via a club option in his prior contract, with the extension covering 2020 through 2024 plus a vesting option for 2025. Manager Alex Cora named Sale as Boston's starting pitcher for 2019 Opening Day. Sale started the season 0–4 with an 8.50 ERA, a performance he called "flat-out embarrassing." On May 8, Sale threw an immaculate inning for the first time in his career, striking out three straight Orioles batters on a total of nine pitches. On May 14 against Colorado, Sale struck out 17 batters, a new career-high; he left after seven innings and received a no decision as Boston lost in extra innings. He pitched his second immaculate inning on June 5, in a complete game shutout against Kansas City, striking out 12. On August 13, Sale recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his major league career; he reached that mark in 1,626 innings pitched, the fewest innings needed to accomplish the feat in MLB history. On August 17, Sale was placed on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation, retroactive to August 14. After meeting with Dr. James Andrews on August 19, it was determined that Sale did not need surgery; however, the inflammation in his elbow was expected to end his season. On September 1, the Red Sox moved him to the 60-day injured list. For the 2019 season, Sale had a 6–11 record with 4.40 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 147 1⁄3 innings. He had 14 games with 10 + strikeouts including a period from April 21 to June 26, when he had 10 + strikeouts in 10 out of 13 starts
On February 27, 2020, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced that Sale would not be ready for Opening Day due to his progress in spring training being hampered by pneumonia. Two weeks later, the season was delayed due to coronavirus pandemic concerns. On March 19, the team announced that Sale would undergo Tommy John surgery, thereby ending his 2020 season. On March 30, the Red Sox announced that Sale successfully underwent the surgery, which was performed in Los Angeles. On June 28, days before the restart of preseason training, the team placed Sale on the 45-day injured list (reduced from 60-day for 2020).
In an article in The New York Times, "Was That Pitcher's Surgery Truly Essential?", columnist Tyler Kepner discussed the Tommy John surgery of both Sale and Noah Syndergaard in a time when the coronavirus pandemic had led federal, state, and local authorities to restrict medical procedures to essential services only. Sale, who had been receiving treatment by Dr. Andrews at his Florida clinic, had his surgery performed at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after Dr. Andrews suspended all non-emergency medical surgery in compliance with Florida's coronavirus pandemic policy.
Awards and achievements
|Name of award||Times||Dates||Ref|
|American League Pitcher of the Month||3||2012 May, 2015 June, 2018 June|
|Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year||1||2010|
|Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year||1||2010|
|Major League Baseball All-Star||7||2012−2018|
|The Sporting News American League Starting Pitcher of the Year||2||2017–2018|
|Achievement||Value or number||Ref|
|Fewest innings pitched to reach 1,500 strikeouts||1,290|||
|Fewest innings pitched to reach 2,000 strikeouts||1,626|||
|Strikeout-to-walk ratio career leader||5.12|||
|Adjusted ERA+ leader||1||2014|
|Complete games leader||2||2013, 2016|
|Fielding independent pitching leader||2||2015, 2017|
|Hit batsmen leader||2||2015, 2016|
|Innings pitched leader||1||2017|
|Strikeout leader||2||2015, 2017|
|Strikeout-to-walk ratio leader||1||2015|
|Strikeouts per 9 innings pitched leader||3||2014, 2015, 2017|
Through 2017 season. Per Baseball-Reference.com.
Notes: Through 2016 season. Per Baseball-Reference.com.
Sale relies on four pitches — a fastball at 93–100 mph, a changeup at 85–89 mph, a sinker at 90-94 mph, and a slider at 77–84 mph. The slider, which carries a career whiff rate of 43%, is Sale's most common 2-strike pitch to hitters from both sides of the plate.
Sale throws with a “funky” sidearm throwing motion. He is nicknamed "The Condor" because his unorthodox delivery makes him resemble a California condor. His moniker was first coined on SB Nation's South Side Sox site on April 17, 2012.
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