Braves tempering expectations on exciting new weapon should come as a warning

The Atlanta Braves are already tempering expectations for starting pitcher Chris Sale in spring training.

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The Atlanta Braves acquired former Cy Young winner Chris Sale this offseason to fill out their starting rotation. Sale, who came at the relatively low cost of Vaughn Grissom and spare parts, sounds rejuvenated and excited to contribute to a pennant race. As sad as it may be, in Boston the odds were against that occurring in 2024.

Sale should slide right in at the bottom of the Atlanta rotation, perhaps behind Charlie Morton and in front of 2023 NL All-Star Bryce Elder. At his best, Sale is a proven force who can lead a rotation. The Braves are hoping they acquired the version of Sale who pitched quite well at the end of last season. Sale had a 3.92 ERA after rejoining the Boston rotation in August.

Atlanta Braves fans should temper expectations for Chris Sale

Atlanta beat reporter Mark Bowman and the Braves are already tempering expectations some. This isn't vintage Sale, nor is it the oft-injured pitcher Boston fans loathed. He's somewhere in between.

"Because Sale completed just 102 2/3 innings last year, he isn’t going to have the workload necessary to compete for a Cy Young Award this year. Instead, the focus will be on ensuring he stays healthy and strong for the postseason, during which his intense, competitive nature could prove to be quite valuable," Bowman wrote.

As for Sale himself, a fresh start is welcome. The Red Sox have finished last place in the AL East two straight years, and could be on the verge of doing so again. The Braves don't have that problem. Even with the Dodgers spending over $1 billion this offseason, Atlanta arguably has the most complete roster in baseball, top to bottom.

“I love to compete, and baseball is fun again,” Sale said. “I’m really excited for this opportunity. It’s been a while since I’ve had the whole package of finishing healthy, having a normal offseason and coming into Spring Training healthy. So, all those things and being a little bit older and slightly smarter and with the staff here and the people I’m surrounded by, it’s going to give me the best opportunity I’ve had in a long time.”

Braves fans are excited about what Sale can offer every fifth or sixth day. However, as Red Sox fans learned the hard way, they ought to lower their expectations.

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