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Entries in Chris Sale (5)


Sale on his Game, Still Gets the Loss

Chris Sale of the Chicago White SoxThere are tough losses, and then there's what White Sox starter Chris Sale suffered Friday night against the Houston Astros. The string bean, sidearm-throwing lefty tortured the 'Stros, striking out 14 hitters and walking one but also giving up two unearned runs, thanks to a rough night in the field for shortstop Alexi Ramirez. How dominant was Sale? Consider:

  • Houston batters whiffed at 22 of the 63 pitches they swung at against Sale (about 35%). That's way above the 21% average miss rate for starting pitchers this season. Sale's changeup was the big swing-and-miss offering, with 11 Astros coming up empty against the pitch.

Pitch location of Sale's whiffs vs. Astros on 6/14/13

  • Sale managed to get all those whiffs while still pounding the strike zone. He threw 69 of his 124 total pitches (about 56%) over the plate, above the 50% average for starters.
  • Chicago's ace fell behind in the count to just five of the 32 hitters that he faced (16%). Overall, MLB pitchers fall behind batters in about 34% of plate appearances.

Sale's outing on Friday was the best by a starting pitcher in a loss this year as measured by Game Score (GSc), a Bill James stat that gauges a pitcher's effectiveness based on innings pitched, strikeouts, hits, walks and runs allowed (both earned and unearned).

Highest Game Score by SP in losing decision, 2013


While Sale has plenty to gripe about, his dominant outing doesn't even come close to making the list of the highest Game Scores in a losing decision since the Expansion Era (1961-present). Jim Maloney and Juan Marichal pitched deep into the extra innings and racked up 100-plus Games Scores, yet suffered the loss. You'll also find Warren Spahn's 15.1 inning gem against the Giants in 1963 on this list. His mound opponent that day? None other than Marichal, who earned the W while lasting 16 frames and posting a Game Score of 112.

Highest Game Score by SP in losing decision since Expansion Era



Chris Sale's First Start

Yu Darvish wasn't the only guy making his first MLB start last night. After two dominant years in the bullpen, White Sox power arm Chris Sale is shifting to the rotation 2012. The 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft was a starter at Florida Gulf Coast University, and he impressed while navigating the lineup multiple times against the Indians. Sale struck out five and walked two in 6.2 innings, allowing just three hits and one run. Here are some notes on Sale's first start.

- Not surprisingly, Sale's fastball sat a few ticks slower as a starter (92.3 mph average) than as a reliever (95.1 mph). The 6-5, 180 pound lefty opened the game sitting around 93 mph, reached back for more in the third inning and tailed off in the fifth, but he regained some oomph after that:

Sale's fastball velocity by inning

1st: 92.8

2nd: 92.5

3rd: 94.2

4th: 91.6

5th: 89.9

6th: 91.9

7th: 92.2

Sale's fastball didn't get a bunch of whiffs (three in 24 swings), but he succeeded by keeping the pitch low in the strike zone:

Sale's fastball location vs. Indians, 4/9/12

Cleveland's hitters went 2-for-13 against Sale's fastball, grounding out seven times.

- Sale's slider was also down a couple of mph out of the rotation (80.2 mph yesterday, 82.3 mph as a reliever). His breaking ball was a big bat-misser out of the 'pen (49% miss rate), and the Indians came up empty four times out of 10 cuts yesterday.

- Facing a lineup featuring five right-handed hitters and two switch-hitters, Sale still went much more heavily to his slider (31%) than his changeup (12%). His change (yellow in the graph below) was about eight mph slower than his fastball (orange-red) and was pretty similar to his heater in terms of horizontal and vertical movement:

Release velocity and movement of Sale's pitches vs. Indians, 4/9/12Sale rarely used his changeup out of the bullpen (seven percent of his pitches). The development of that pitch could be key to his performance against righties, considering that the slider is typically much more effective against same-handed hitters (lefty batters slugged .292 on sliders from lefty pitchers in 2011) than opposite-handed hitters (righties slugged .346 versus lefty sliders). For what it's worth, Sale's slider was deadly against both righties (.148 slugging percentage) and lefties (.133 slugging percentage) as a reliever.

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