It's still unclear whether the Boston Red Sox will give Chris Sale a contract extension before Opening Day.
But he's certainly pitching like he deserves one.
The Red Sox starter was in ace form Saturday in his spring training start against the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, allowing just two hits over four scoreless innings while striking out seven of the 13 batters he faced in an eventual 6-1 Boston win.
Let's watch those seven punch-outs, shall we?
Yeah.— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 16, 2019
Chris Sale looks ready. pic.twitter.com/MYheJ8xxvp
Sale had his off-speed stuff working Saturday, catching four Braves batters looking on nasty sliders or curveballs. This wasn't even Sale at his peak, either; the lanky left-hander kept his fastball in the high 80s and low 90s to avoid overthrowing before the regular season.
Sale has struck out six of the nine batters he's faced so far today, mostly on off-speed stuff. The fastball velo is hovering around 92, which is obviously slower than normal. But as others have noted, the Red Sox have wanted him to hold himself back a bit with velo early on— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) March 16, 2019
Sale clearly still has Cy Young-worthy stuff, but the key for Boston will be keeping the 29-year-old healthy and fresh throughout his 10th MLB season. Sale threw just 158 innings in 2018 -- his lowest total since he became a starter in 2012 -- while battling arm problems.
If his arm holds up, though, expect to see a lot more baffled hitters in Sale's starts this season.
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