Red Sox Off-Season Profiles: Chris Sale
Boston, MA - The 2018 Boston Red Sox Season was one of the best in franchise history as the team won their ninth World Series title. However, the season also had a very lovely circular story that was book-ended in the same way that it began. The first game of the season, on March 29, saw Boston take on the Tampa Bay Rays when they fell 6-4 after the bullpen blew their early lead. The loss had nothing to do with Sale, however, as the team's ace pitched six innings, struck out nine Rays, gave up no earned runs, and only surrendered one hit.
Fortunately, this game was not an omen of how the rest of the season would go as Boston only lost fifty-three more games during the season. But it did provide excellent foreshadowing for how Sale would fare throughout 2018. And when Sale started the season, he also ended it by emerging from the bullpen to strike out the side in the ninth inning of the fifth game of the World Series to clinch the title for the team. It was a sight to behold as Sale trotted out from the bullpen and everyone knew what was to come.
He also just barely missed contention for Cy Young this year, but many considered him the front runner for the majority of the regular season. He was even the American League Pitcher of the Month for June 2018!
Sale finished the 2018 season with two hundred and thirty-seven strikeouts, one season removed from his three hundred strikeout affair, as well as a 2.11 earned run average. Unfortunately, injury concerns derailed Sale's later months in the season as the Sox wanted to make sure he was healthy for the post-season.
Fortunately, he was in solid shape for the playoffs. He was not the unhittable Sale that all fans were used to (though, he looked perfect in the ninth inning versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, including his nasty slider against Manny Machado to end it all), but he did manage to strike out twenty-four batters in twenty-five innings.
I know there are rumors about trading Sale right now, but this would be a huge mistake. When he's on, he's the best in the game. How can you put a price on that?