Chris Sale has had a miserable start to the 2019 campaign, and his velocity has been the main concern up to date. Through his first three starts, Sale's pitches had rarely touched 94 mph and the lefty saw his record fall to 0-3 early on in the year.
What was even more troubling was his 9.00 ERA and the eight strike outs he had accumulated through his first three starts.
However, a date with the Yankees in the Bronx saw a rare opportunity for the struggling pitcher to find his groove against a team who he was able to dominate the past season. His 2-0 record against the Yankees in 2018 was only bettered by his 0.69 ERA, and at the start of the game today, it looked like it would be the same old Sale against the Bronx Bombers.
Chris Sale looking much better so far. A clean first inning on nine pitches. Fastball between 93-94 mph and he even got a swing-and-miss with it. Still need to see the same bite on his slider though. #RedSox— Sean Penney (@spenney83) April 16, 2019
He cruised through the first inning, retiring the side in order while adding a strikeout. He would continue to be sharp in the second, retiring the Yankees
Despite an increase in his fastball velocity, Sale would surrender four runs over five innings pitched, giving up seven hits. Sale's inability to blow away Yankee hitters cannot be comforting for the Red Sox coaching staff and management.
Chris Sale has thrown 33 four-seamers tonight, averaging 95.5 mph. So, velocity is better. BUT, he's registered one swinging strike on the pitch, Yanks have fouled off 11 of them and the six balls put in play on it have come off the bat at an average of 103.4 mph.— Chris Carelli (@Chris_Carelli) April 17, 2019
Without the velocity, Sale is going to have to revamp his pitching style, something not all pitchers are able to do, especially on the fly. If he is unable to do that, and the velocity does not fully return, Sale's recent outings will become less of an enigma and more of a regularity, causing Red Sox
Cora -- 'I’m not going to be surprised if his next outing he’s right where we need him to be. I think stuff-wise you compare it to the first three – the velocity was there. The slider was a lot better today. I think he’s very close to ‘the real Chris Sale.’'— Bill Koch (@BillKoch25) April 17, 2019
Alex Cora may try to act cool and collected about the situation, but there's no denying that the manager is worried about the team's star pitcher. Sale just signed a massive six-year extension with the Red Sox, and he's not looking likely to live up to the deal if he doesn't figure out what's plaguing him.
He initially believed it was a mechanical issue causing him to lose velocity, and while he seems to have made the proper adjustment in that regard, he is not as effective of a pitcher.
Even upon the return of his fastball's velocity, the pitch was not creating swinging strikes, and thus the Yankees had no problem showing Sale the exit door and handing Boston a loss in the first of their 19 rivalry matchups this season.