Last night Chris Sale was awesome. He has been all year actually, but last night was like some type of punctuation mark. Probably an exclamation point. He went the distance giving up only two runs on only 5 hits and 2 walks, to go along with 8 K’s. Sure, Miguel Olivo tagged him for a two run shot, but Sale is easily surpassing expectations this year, despite the White Sox bouncing him around from role to role. On the season Sale is now 7-2 with a 2.30 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. How is he doing it?
For starters, he has toned down the velocity of his pitches, which makes sense considering he needs to pitch more than one inning at a clip now. This drop in velocity has allowed him to have more control over his pitches, as illustrated by his drop in BB/9 (almost 1 full walk lower from last year). All of his pitches are grading out as plus, and he is getting swinging strikes at a rate that is top 20 among qualified starters.
I have some concerns that he may tire at the end of the season just because he hasn’t thrown a full starting pitcher amount of innings in a season before (71 was his high list year, ZIPs projects him to finish in the 170 range, which could mark him as an injury risk heading into next year. That isn’t now though. Now he is awesome.
- John Niese made it through 6 innings and 96 pitches last night, striking out a career high 10 batters before being forced to leave with an elevated heart beat. He had the same problem last year and avoided the DL, just having to wear a heart monitor for the remainder of the season. Keep an eye on him as he has been pegged as a sleeper this year by a lot of people, and he hasn’t pitched badly.
- Adam Jones’ right wrist (not the one he was hit on Wednesday) has been sore for weeks according to him, and it was the reason he was pulled from the game in the 9th last night. He had an MRI this morning and tweeted after that he was “all good.” Expect him to play tomorrow in Boston.
- Jason Bay is coming off the DL Tuesday and will be immediately re-inserted as the starting left fielder for the Mets. As bad a rap as Bay has over the last couple of years, but in his last 10 games before getting hurt he was batting .265 with 3 HR’s. With shorter fences at Citi, he might be worth a speculative add just to see if he can recapture something from his past if he is available in your league.
- A lot has been said about Dexter Fowler and his home road splits this year (1.169 OPS at home, .571 away). Currently the Rockies are just starting a 3 games series in Arizona, then bounce back to Colorado for 6 more games. Last week I picked him up just to platoon his home/away games for now. At 69% owned the window to get him on the wire is rapidly closing, but maybe you can get him from a not so savy owner if he goes cold in the desert, just in time for that 6 game home stand. Over the last week, he lead baseball in WAR with a 1.0, putting up a .556/.636/.963 line with 13 runs, 2 homers, 8 RBI’s and 3 steals. His BABIP over that stretch was .722!
Lohse @ Gee
Samardzija @ Vogelsong
Kershaw @ Worley
De Vries @ Smith – I’m not recommending that anyone start Smith. That being said, I’m playing him in Blog Wars. It’s a weekly lineup format and he has two starts this week. I’ll take the chance with him squaring off against the Twins, then Pirates.
Friedrich @ Saunders
Vargas @ Santana
Feldman @ Parker – Feldman is my other gamble pick today. He is pitching in Oakland, so that helps. Parker has been great, then not so great, then was good again. This isn’t an optimal matchup, but I can’t fault you for playing him here.