After his start today against the Cleveland Indians, Chris Sale will finish with a 3.19 ERA in the month of June. Sale pitched 42.1 innings, and struck out 53 hitters while giving up just nine walks. For most pitchers on most teams, those numbers are good enough to get three, four or maybe even five wins in a month.
Sale’s record in the month of June? 0-5, with a no-decision.
Obviously, this has not been a good year for the Chicago White Sox. They’re currently in dead last in the American League Central, 10.5 games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers. The biggest problem the Sox have is their offense, which has been anemic this season. Chicago ranks 20th, 25th and 25th in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage respectively. The position players of the White Sox have a combined WAR of just 1.9, the third worst mark in baseball.
Sale has unfortunately felt the consequences of the White Sox’s struggling hitters more often than his rotation mates this year. The White Sox are currently averaging 3.77 runs per game this year, but that average drops to just 2.95 runs per game in games that Sale has started. This has to be a frustrating trend for Sale, who has been stuck on five wins since May 17.
However, chalking all of this up to bad luck would be an oversimplification. Sale is the ace for the White Sox, which means that he often is opposing the best pitcher on the other team. For instance, Sunday’s opponent, Justin Masterson, threw a complete game shutout against Chicago for the second time this season. If the other pitcher is throwing a shutout, there’s not much that Sale or any other pitcher can do to top that.
Not scoring against Masterson is frustrating, but understandable. The games that must really aggravate Sale and White Sox fans everywhere are games like the one on June 14. Sale threw eight innings, struck out 14 hitters and allowed just two runs, both unearned. Somehow, this wasn’t enough to keep him from being the losing pitcher against Eric Bedard and the Houston Astros.
Sale is another great example of why win-loss record is an overrated stat for judging a pitcher’s performance, because his 5-7 record is in no way an accurate indication of how he’s pitched this season.