Just gonna leave this here.
That is some damn good pitching.
What Went Right in 2017
This was the best year of Sale’s career, hands down. He racked up 308 strikeouts while only walking 43 guys, making Sale the first 300 strikeout pitcher in the American League since Pedro Martinez. It’s only his first season in Boston and Sale’s already getting compared to Pedro. And get this – his peripherals say he should’ve been even better. That’s just mind-boggling to think about.
His first half was absolutely dominant. He recorded eight straight games with 10 or more strikeouts. When the dog days of August came, Sale buckled down, and registered seven scoreless starts of six innings or more in the second half – and all of them came with eight or more strikeouts, as is customary for any Sale start. Sale led the Red Sox in almost every pitching category, and if it wasn’t for Craig Kimbrel, he would’ve been tops in K/9 and strikeout rate as well. He might have been the best hitter on the team, too.
Sale’s constant presence in the rotation was a much-needed boon to this team, as David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez dealt with injuries, Drew Pomeranz with fatigue, and Rick Porcello with a chronic case of suck – and yes, that’s the scientific term for it. It’s pretty easy to see that without Sale this Red Sox team would be a lot worse than 93 wins and a division title, and they might’ve not even made the Wild Card game had Sale not been there. This man and his slider were the bedrock of this Red Sox team.
Sale’s season had so many career-bests and historic markers that it’s hard to describe, yet easy to undersell. So here’s his season in a single pitch:
We hardly knew ya, Kyle Seager.
What Went Wrong in 2017
His second half was somewhat okay relative to his first half? That might honestly be it. Might miss out on a Cy Young Award, but hey, it would be a bit unfair for the Red Sox to say they have three Cy Young Award winners in their rotation, so I can see the parity in it.
But if Sale goes his entire career without getting a Cy Young, it’ll be a travesty.
What to Expect in 2018
It’s hard to say “more of the same”, because Sale did so many things well. He’s in his prime years, and I want to believe he’ll do something like this again, but it’s extremely hard to keep producing at such a high level like Sale did in 2017. Could he do it again? Absolutely. But we have to understand that even an average Sale season is still a superb year, and if he’s not going to be historically good again, I don’t think we can really dislike Sale for being really, really good instead.
Sale’s going to be good, and he’s going to be must-watch TV. There aren’t many predictions that are as slam-dunk as that.
Photo by Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports