1. A should-be American League Cy Young candidate
Plenty has been said about the damage the Red Sox hitters should do in the playoffs, but arguably the biggest key to winning a championship is good pitching. Boston has one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, Chris Sale, as its ace. As per usual, Sale is a candidate for the American League Cy Young award with his 12-4 record and his 2.11 ERA.
But you know what the real bummer is? Sale could’ve easily won 20-plus games this year if a handful of his starts hadn’t been blown by the Boston bullpen, as well as a simple lack of run support early in the year, as well as the fact that Sale spent nearly the entire month of August on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Missing a chunk of the year on the DL probably severely hindered Sale’s case for the AL Cy Young. But we would all be lying if we said Red Sox fans cared about the Cy Young award. They just want him to be dominant every time he takes the mound in October so that the Sox can bring home another World Series title.
It’s no secret that Sale has had a tendency to wear down late in seasons, and it showed last year when he struggled heavily in his appearances against the Houston Astros in the ALDS. He’s a pitcher that can be completely unhittable most of the time, but you’ve got to limit his innings when you can afford to so that his arm doesn’t get overworked.
That’s why Sale’s trip to the DL might just have been a blessing in disguise. Thanks to that, he got nearly an extra month of rest. He might not win the Cy Young, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be blowing hitters away in the postseason.
If Sale is feeling good, then whichever team is forced to face him in Game 1 of the ALDS next week will be in trouble.