I blogged last week about how people should really calm down about the Red Sox horrendous start to the season. After witnessing yesterday’s performance in the home opener, my tone has changed quite a bit. The only reason is because of the recently extended ace Chris Sale.
Sale is undoubtedly one of the top pitchers in all of major league baseball but his performance to start the year has been so uninspiring. He himself even said yesterday that he has never felt this lost on the mound in his life. Yikes. The man Boston just gave a 5-year contract extension has never felt so uncertain doing the job that got him paid in the first place? Unsettling to say the least.
The biggest issue that fans have had with Sale’s lackluster performance is the fact that his fastball has been sitting around 91 / 92 miles per hour. I personally think he will get his velocity up a tick, once the season gets rolling, but the concerns about Sale’s durability to start to play once his approach on the mound has to change. Batter’s of opposing teams do not have to worry about a 98 MPH heater coming at them. They can instead sit up in the box and anticipate that his slider and changeup are on their way. Even Toronto Blue Jay’s catcher Danny Jansen said that facing a low-velocity Sale makes it, “more comfortable”, at the dish.
Like I said I think Sale will turn it around this season, but what he has been doing could be a precursor of what is to come. A he ages in that newly signed deal, he is going to have to reinvent himself as a pitcher. The power arm that Sale used to have looks like it has faded as he has continued to work it every fifth day. That equals bad news for the Red Sox, especially as they try and repeat as World Series champs.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)