4. Chris Sale
In his first season with the Boston Red Sox, southpaw Chris Sale has been worth every bit of the massive prospect haul it took to acquire him from the Chicago White Sox. He is a contender for the American League Cy Young and may go over 300 strikeouts depending on how many starts he makes the rest of the year. Sale is having the best season of his eight-year career.
With the White Sox, Sale never got a taste of the postseason — didn’t even come close, for that matter. As the calendar turns to October, he’s getting ready for a whole new ballgame. With his bulldog mentality on the mound and borderline scary intensity and laser focus, something tells me he will be fine under the brighter lights and stifling pressure of playoff baseball.
Sale has not wavered under the pressure of carrying a Red Sox rotation in the second half that has been without David Price for weeks and has seen 2016 AL Cy Young Rick Porcello lose 17 games and counting. He has struck out 100 in only 68 innings.
The only troubling stat to consider with Sale as the Red Sox look towards the playoffs is his career 4.78 ERA against the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe hit him around in August and is on an incredible roll. On a more positive note, Sale has a career 1.31 ERA against the Houston Astros, Boston’s likely ALDS opponent.