Remember the Chris Sale that we saw at the end of last season and into the playoffs?
The mortal version of Sale, the one with reduced velocity.
Yeah, he’s still here.
Sale lasted only 3 innings in his opening day start against the Mariners giving up 7 runs on 6 hits in a 12-4 Red Sox loss. Sale allowed 3 home runs on the night. That’s something that did not happen once last season.
“I feel like I should be able to go out there and throw strikes, I mean this is the big leagues, man,” Sale told reporters. “I don’t feel like I need a whole lot of practice. Command has never really been a big issue of mine, so it’s frustrating when it becomes an issue. I should be able to throw the ball over the plate, that’s my job, and I just wasn’t able to.”
Velocity a big issue for Sale, as it was at the end of last season. His first fastball of the night came in at 90 miles per hour. He hit 94-95 four times in the first inning. He hit 94 once more time but sat around 92 miles per hour most of the night. His 4 seam fastball velocity decreased each inning. He did not induce a single swing and miss on a fastball all night.
The Sox ace suffered a dip in velocity after coming off the disabled list with a shoulder injury last season. For the first four months of the season Sale pitched 141 innings with a 2.04 ERA. After coming back from the DL he threw only 32 innings from August-October with a 3.34 ERA.
This was by far the worst Opening Day start of Sale’s career. In his previous four Opening Day starts, Sale went 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
The even runs were the most by a Red Sox starter on Opening Day since 2002.
Sale of course recently signed a 5 year 145 million dollar extension which required he pass a physical. The team and Sale insist there is nothing wrong with his shoulder and he did not have surgery in the offseason.
For the Red Sox sake, here’s hoping Thursday night was just an aberration as opposed to the new normal for Sale.
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