For the Red Sox and Chris Sale, the Struggle is Real

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“I’m still searching.  I’ll find it.  I know who I am.” - Chris Sale

The reigning, defending and undisputed World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are struggling out of the gate.  It’s bad; the Red Sox have lost every series they’ve played in to start the year and were just beaten by the  Blue Jays in the home opener.  The Red Sox starting pitching is disgusting right now, and I mean that in a bad way.  Chris Sale is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA to start the young season and looks completely lost on the mound. 

What’s wrong with Chris Sale? 

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports
That is a great question and we need to look past the extension he signed to get that answer.  Let’s start with Sale’s velocity.  His fastball is non existent.  During the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays he came out the gate throwing in the mid-90’s and the Sox got out to an early 2-0 lead.  Then it got ugly, really ugly.  The Jays scored five unanswered runs up against Sale, forcing the ace out of the game after only four innings of work. 

The Red Sox faithful rained boo’s down on Chris Sale.  The Red Sox fans' buzz at Fenway was wiped out by bad pitching once again to start a game.  Manager Alex Cora said “there isn’t enough separation” between his pitches.  Sale struggled with strikeouts against Toronto.  The Jays have struck out 111 times entering the game and Sale only had three in his start.

This season, according to Statcast, Sale’s 4-seam fastball statistics are dismal. Against the Blue Jays, Sale threw 26 4-seamers with an average velocity of 91.8 mph and had only one swing and miss on ten swings.  This season, entering into yesterday, Sale has thrown 50 4-seam fastballs and had only one swing and miss.  To put that into perspective Red Sox Nation, last season Sale’s average velocity was 95.2 mph with an average whiff rate at 29.8%.

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It’s still early and Sale has plenty of time to figure it out on the mound. 

However, Sale looked lost on the mound against Toronto.  “We gotta win that game,” Sale said after the loss to the Blue Jays.  “It’s very easy to just throw it on top of the pile and say we’re not playing good, but this wasn’t about us not playing good.  Today was a day we were going to turn it around, we’re back home, the ceremony, in front of our home fans,  playing our first home game.” 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports
The Red Sox need to stop focusing on last season and ring ceremonies. They need to figure this out because this roster is the same as last year in which they won 108-games.  But the Red Sox are in the basement of the AL East with no real direction on how to get out. 

Fans and media are focusing on Sale’s new contract and the fact Sandy Leon is not on the roster as reasons why he and the team is off to a bad start.  We need to stop focusing on both.

Is it frustrating to know the Red Sox gave Sale an extension for $145 million and he’s scuffling?  The answer is yes, it’s ok to be frustrated.  I also need Sox fans to calm down about Leon.  He is not on the roster and he is not the answer to the question as to why this team is struggling.  If Leon were the answer, he would be on the Major League roster. 

While it’s very easy to focus on the negative, I am confident the Red Sox will figure this out and get back to winning baseball. Red Sox fans have struggled with this slow start, that’s ok, they’re passionate about this team and want to win.  In Boston it’s hard to have patience, but in this case with this baseball team, we all need to have patience. 

What is good is Sale isn’t making excuses as to why he is struggling.  While his stats aren’t what we expect out of an ace of a staff, his words are.  Sale is taking complete ownership of his slow start and that is a step in the right direction for Sale. 

Chris Sale understands that he is struggling and had this to say after his third loss of the year, “I’m still searching.  I’ll find it.  I know who I am.”  Red Sox Nation, this team will figure it out, Chris Sale will figure this out and Red Sox Nation can go back to enjoying baseball at Fenway.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: For the Red Sox and Chris Sale, the Struggle is Real
For the Red Sox and Chris Sale, the Struggle is Real
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