Chris Sale trade has already saved the Braves once this year

The Atlanta Braves traded for Chris Sale to fill out their starting rotation, and he has done that and then some.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

When the Atlanta Braves traded for Chris Sale, they hoped that a change of scenery and a chance to compete could help the former AL Cy Young award winner find some of his past magic on the mound. It helps that Sale pitched relatively well at the end of last season in Boston.

The Braves dealt an intriguing trade piece in Vaughn Grissom, who is expected to start at second base for the Red Sox once he is healthy later this month. Grissom has a nice bat at his disposal, but didn't have a home on the Braves infield, which is one of the best in baseball.

As for Sale, he's impressed his teammates with a competitive drive and the stuff to back it up. Sale went just over five innings in his Atlanta debut, striking out seven Phillies and giving up just two runs. Unfortunately, the Braves bullpen couldn't finish the job, but Sale provided exactly what Brian Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos want out of him.

Chris Sale saved the Braves bullpen in his first start

While five innings from Sale would've been viewed as a relatively disappointment five years ago, baseball has changed a lot since then. The quality start -- over five innings and less than three earned runs -- is tougher to come by. Sale provided just that on a day the Braves desperately needed it.

On Saturday, Atlanta ace Max Fried went just .2 innings and gave up three earned runs. Snitker quickly pulled him from the game, which forced the Braves bullpen to throw over eight innings of work. Sale was happy with his performance, even if it came in a loss.

“It was a dogfight,” Sale said. “Sometimes, you win, and sometimes, you lose. It just happened to be that we were on the bottom side today. You like to see that fight throughout the whole game. What more can you ask for, winning a road series, the first one out of the gate.”

Snitker was particularly impressed with how Sale pitched just a day after watching his teammate and NL All-Star Max Fried get shelled by the same Phillies offense.

“He just kept competing,” Snitker said. “I was really impressed.”

It's that same fire and competitiveness that the Braves will need out of Sale all season long, and perhaps even into October.