When Dave Dombrowski made the trade for Chris Sale this past off-season one thing became extremely clear to all of Red Sox nation, the Sox are all in to win a championship in the next three years, which is how long they have Sale signed for along with other keys players such as Betts, Bogarts, Porcello and more.
Every move Dombrowski and the rest of the Red Sox management has made has been about winning now at the cost of the future. The Sale trade was a glaring example. Trading the number one prospect in baseball (Yoan Moncada) takes some nerve, however Dombrowski receives no credit for that just because anyone can simply throw a pile of prospects at a team for a good pitcher.
Unlike David Price the last “ace” that the Red Sox brought in, Sale has lived up and maybe even surpassed expectations.
So far Sale has posted a 10-3 record and the Red Sox have gone 12-4 when their ace takes the mound. Sale is not walking into wins like some pitchers. He has posted a 2.77 ERA a .906 whip along with a major league leading 155 strikeouts (12.3 K per 9). Every time Sale takes the mound a good start seems all but guaranteed. Even in his losses, beside getting roughed up in Chicago, he has pitched solid to great. Most notable is the 2-1 loss early this year to the Tigers, and an absolutely crushing 1-0 loss to the dreadful Phillies. Granted, Sale is the type of pitcher you expect to win close games like that but with the lack of run support that the Red Sox have provided for him, it makes close games that much harder on Sale.
Now the major concern involving Chris Sale should not be about Sale’s performance at all, because as noted he has been outstanding. The concern should be of the Red Sox wasting Sale’s brilliance. So far the Red Sox hold a 44-35 record which looks pretty good on paper, however if you expand on this the results should definitely cause concern. When Sale is not on the mound for the Red Sox they are 32-31 which screams mediocrity. The lack of solid pitching and consistent hitting from the Red Sox have been an Achilles Heel all season and when Sale is not on the mound covering these flaws, we see the true results.
The amazing season that Chris Sale has had thus far and the lack of help he is receiving is similar to Pedro Martinez’s amazing 1999 season. It may not be correct to compare the two pitchers seasons, because fans know that that was the greatest season ever by a Red Sox pitcher, but rather to compare the results. That Red Sox team wasted an all time great pitching season by Pedro and it’s a very fair thing to think that it might be happening again with Sale.
The most concerning thing for the Red Sox and their fans should be the thought of what will happen if Sale begins to fade and can’t continue this excellent pace? Over the past couple of seasons, Sale’s ERA in September has nearly doubled from his normal and fatigue could be the cause. So far this team has not shown any signs of being a great team and if Sale can’t continue to carry the team like he is now, they might be in danger of falling out of a playoff spot.
Although the AL East is certainly mediocre all around and the Yankees have seemed to already reach their full potential, the Red Sox must win the division and not wait for other teams to lose it.
The pressure now falls on the under-performers such as Hanley, Price, Porcello, and seemingly every third baseman on the team. This Red Sox team has not shown us it’s true potential and its ceiling is a championship. But a starting pitcher can only carry you so far without support around him.