There is no arguing that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the American League Central. Some even claim him as Major League Baseball’s top ace. His career totals —124-65 win-loss record, 3.40 ERA, 2011 Cy Young Award winner— speak for themselves. It’s no secret Verlander prides himself on being one of the top pitchers in baseball. It’s also no secret that when the Detroit Tigers ace is on the mound, he does everything in his power to out perform his counterpart. With this being said, the content of a conversation Verlander had with Chicago White Sox pitcher, Chris Sale, last season may surprise you.
In the heat of a divisional race, the Tigers and White Sox were set to do battle in September of last year. Given the magnitude of the game, the pitching matchup was one for the ages. Veteran starter Justin Verlander of the Tigers was matched up against the White Sox up and coming ace, Chris Sale. Unfortunately for fans holding tickets to that game, due to Mother Nature the game was rained out. But before the game was slated to begin, a moment took place that Sale will remember for the rest of his life.
Having what he called a “dead arm” Sale had recently skipped a few starts. For the White Sox left-hander, feeling fatigued created a sense of uneasiness. Leave it to maybe the most unlikely source to reach out to Sale and offer him advice. Just hours away from facing off against each other, Verlander pulled Sale aside and told him that he went through the same phase when he was younger. He told Sale to just fight through it and once the off-season comes just relax and you’ll be ready to go by next year.
The encouragement Sale received from Verlander was greatly appreciated. While there is no doubt Sale experienced a late season letdown in 2012, he assures that 2013 will be different. And for the White Sox, Sale’s success will be a key component to their postseason aspirations. If Sale is able to finish 2013 strong and his ability to lead the Sox staff results in an AL Central title, a thank you note from the South Siders, addressed to Mr. Verlander may be in order.