With seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work Thursday against Los Angeles, Chris Sale's Cactus League strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at an eye-popping 22-2 in 24 innings of work.
You didn't misread that. For every walk Sale issues, he's struck out 11 opponents. That, to say the least, bodes well for his future as a starter.
There have been plenty of reasons thrown out there about why Sale shouldn't be a starter. He was too good as a reliever. His mechanics don't translate to a larger workload. The Sox need a closer. His motion will make him easier to hit multiple times through a lineup. And so on. None of them were particularly convincing, at least to this writer.
Just a good season out of Sale the starter would be worth much more to the White Sox than a great season out of Sale the reliever. The Sox haven't named a closer yet -- and Don Cooper said on Comcast SportsNet's broadcast of Thursday's game they won't publicly name one any time soon -- but that doesn't mean Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Jesse Crain or even Hector Santiago are bad options.
Sale's motion may not be ideal for starting, sure. But it's not like his mechanics are guaranteed to land him on the disabled list. And as long as his changeup is working, he'll have no problems retiring righties, even with his three-quarters motion.
The amount of hits Sale has allowed this spring (24, an average of one per inning) isn't too concerning, either. Remember, Sale hasn't started in about two years. He has plenty of kinks to work out, and it's fine that he's working them out in March. The four home runs he's allowed are a little more of a worry, but until he starts allowing clouts at such a high rate in the regular season, hand-wringing should be avoided.
It's hard to see Sale's move to the rotation as being disastrous, barring injury. He's too talented for it to be a nightmare, as we saw Thursday. Maybe Sale won't be an ace this year, but he very well could take the first step toward that designation in 2012.