Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox had a remarkable first year as a starting pitcher.
The team brought the now 24-year old pitcher along slowly with 23 IP in 2010, 71 in 2011, and then 192 last year. He responded with 17 wins, a WHIP of 1.12, an ERA of 3.05, and 192K in his 29 GS. Give him two or three more starts this year, and you could be looking at a possible 210 K and 19-win season, which could put him near the top of the SPs in your league.
So the key question, of course, is whether or not last year was a fluke, or can Sale get even better this year. Will batters have a better view of his pitches the second year around? In his most recent spring training game, he got into the sixth inning very efficiently, using fewer than 10 pitches per frame. So that might indicate he is ready to roll again this season.
Where should you place Sale in your rankings of SPs? This spring, he is being drafted around position 63 as the 18 or 19th pitcher off the board.
That seems a little late to me. Last season, he had just as many wins as Justin Verlander, a much better K/9 than Jered Weaver, a better WHIP than Johnny Cueto, and a lower ERA than Lance Lynn. All of those pitchers are being drafted ahead him, certainly because they have a longer history to examine.
I have been in two drafts so far this spring and grabbed Sale in one of them as the 18th SP off the board. In the other league, I had strong SP keepers, so I needed to focus on batters in the early rounds. Sale was the 19th pitcher off the boards in that draft.
So maybe we should conclude that he can be a very good SP2 with a chance to improve to be an SP1 this season.
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