For those that watched Chris Sale dazzle on Opening Day, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. He was clearly riding the wave of his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast, and their magical run in the NCAA basketball tournament.
That’s not the actual reason, but a possibility. The 24-year-old is coming off a 17-8 season, that featured a 3.05 ERA with 192 strikeouts.
As for 2013, Sale will strike out 200-plus batters and will attempt to stretch himself to the 20-win plateau. In the 1-0 win over the Royals Monday, he went 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven along the way.
He had the perfect mix of off-speed to go with his high fastball. Again, this is nothing new. He’s surgical in his approach, and relentless in his preparation. Sale is tall, lanky and fundamentally sound. He’s a pitching coach’s dream specimen. He’s also making fans forget about fellow southpaw, John Danks.
Of course, Chicago White Sox fans are hoping Danks comes back soon (he’s currently on the Disabled List with weakness in his left shoulder), but Sale is passing the time without him nicely. He did that last year when Danks hit the DL on May 19th (shoulder surgery), ending his season.
Once a solid answer, Danks has become one of the biggest question marks for the White Sox. He was 40-31 from 2008-10, with a 3.61 ERA. Last year, he went 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA.
It’s not as bad as it may sound because Danks has all the ability in the world, and he’s proved that before. Once he regains the velocity, fans will get the chance to see if there can be three dominant lefties in the rotation. You have to consider the potential of Jose Quintana (6-6, 3.76 ERA in 2012). Oh yeah, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd sure up the final two spots.
The White Sox will need all five to contribute if they plan on giving the Detroit Tigers a run for the American League Central title, and fans can thank Chris Sale for the noteworthy 1-0 start.