The biggest surprise for the Chicago White Sox pitching staff in 2012 was the marvelous first half from Chris Sale. Going 12-3 in the first four months of the season, Sale was named to the American League All-Star roster. Equally stunning as Sale’s dominant start, was his sluggish September. The lanky lefty posted season highs in ERA and WHIP in September last year. Putting his late year fatigue behind him and coming to camp stronger due to an off-season workout program, Sale has vowed to be even better in 2013.
With the World Baseball Classic beginning this March, all MLB teams reported to camp a little earlier than usual this year. White Sox manager, Robin Ventura, wanted to keep his starting rotation on a normal Spring Training schedule, therefore none of the South Siders projected starters have thrown in the Sox first six Cactus League games. That all changes this afternoon. Sale, who has been called the unofficial Opening Day starter by a few teammates, will be the first White Sox ace to take the mound today against the Cleveland Indians.
This will be our first look at the new bulkier Sale in live game action. Although improving on a 17-win season may be a tall task for the Sox ace in 2013, I believe he’s up to it. Sale’s “stuff” will be just as nasty as it was last year. What will catapult him into a top-of-the-line starter this season will be his ability to know when to pitch to contact, and when to reach back and blow hitters away. During spring ball, I expect Sale to pound the strike zone and not worry too much about his stats. However, once April 1 comes, Sale will prove to the American League that he is ready to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Justin Verlander’s and David Price’s of the league.
The projected rotation following Sale today for the White Sox is Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy, John Danks and Gavin Floyd. This, however, is not reflective of the regular season rotation according to Sox pitching coach Don Cooper.
Matt Malecha is a Chicago White Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.