Impact: Sale Officially a Starter

Via the Chicago Sun Times, White Sox GM Kenny Williams has confirmed that left-handed pitcher and former first round pick, Chris Sale, will officially be moved to the rotation in 2012. We’ve covered Sale’s possible (and expected) move to the rotation a couple of times this offseason. First, Josh Shepardson wrote how Sale could be a bargain in 2012. Then, Mark Schruender followed a couple of days later with his 2012 player rank and projection, calling for 14 wins and a 3.35 ERA.

I’ll play the more skeptical role.

While Sale does some things really well (strikeouts and ground-balls), he has yet to start a game in his professional career. First off, he’ll have to adjust to throwing more than just one or so innings in a game. That fact alone means that he’ll probably sacrifice some velocity and could have some stamina issues early in the season. It is also highly unlikely that he can maintain a BABIP close to his career rate of .266 as a reliever or a strand rate close to 83.3 percent that he has held as a reliever. He also does not possess very good command or control, which is also something that could regress as he adjusts to life in the rotation.

All that being said, if he remains nothing more than a late round pick or $5 auction player on draft day, he still has the upside to put up some value. I’d optimistically call for an ERA in the mid-threes but hold my own expectations to something in the upper threes, closer to four with good strikeout numbers either way.