In what could be the first of many awards this season, Chris Sale has been named the American League Pitcher of the Month for June.
The White Sox ace received the honor on Thursday after a spectacular month in which he went 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA with 75 strikeouts and only eight walks in 44 1/3 innings.
Sale, who on Sunday or Monday will attempt to set a major league record with nine consecutive starts of 10 or more strikeouts, is the first White Sox pitcher since he accomplished the feat in May 2012.
Though the White Sox have disappointed through their first 76 games, Sale has not. Not only did he match Pedro Martinez’s major league record with his eighth consecutive double-digit strikeout performance on Tuesday (he struck out 12 in eight innings against St. Louis), he also earlier tied a mark set by Martinez and Randy Johnson with five straight starts of 12 or more strikeouts.
Sale made six starts in June and allowed 10 runs (nine earned), 28 hits and two home runs.
The White Sox — who have the second-worst record in the AL at 34-42 — only went 3-3 in Sale’s starts as they scored two runs or fewer in four of them. According to MLB Network, Sale, Johnson and Curt Schilling are the only pitchers in MLB history to go winless despite having eclipsed 10 strikeouts in four straight starts.
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While Sale has been outstanding in each of the past three seasons, he has been even better in 2015 despite a slow month of May. His 141 strikeouts leads all major league pitchers and his 3.7 Wins Above Replacement are second to Max Scherzer (4.2), according to fangraphs.com.
At 2.87, Sale’s ERA is more than a full point higher than Scherzer’s (1.79) but that can be attributed to a defense that has struggled all season long. Sale’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 2.09, which is right on the heels of Scherzer, who leads the majors at 2.01.