It’s not a five-alarm blaze, but the White Sox realize they have a few issues to iron out with Chris Sale, who has struggled in his past two starts.
One game after he gave up a the most runs of his career (nine) in his shortest start (three innings), Sale allowed five more earned runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in Wednesday night’s 7-6 win over the Detroit Tigers. The left-hander also tied a career high by issuing five walks and has a 14.04 ERA in his past two outings.
Sale — who had a 2.37 ERA in his first three starts — has an extra day of rest until his next start on Tuesday in Milwaukee as he dropped his appeal of a five-game suspension on Thursday.
“You know there is probably something there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We’ll go look at it on video and see if there’s something there that’s sticking out that is abnormal for him.”
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Sale’s issues have more to do with location than stuff.
The left-hander missed a month of spring training with a fractured bone in his right foot.
While the White Sox think that could be playing into his location issues, Sale’s fastball has shown outstanding life early this season. His average four-seam fastball velocity has increased to 95.36 mph from 94.89 in 2014, according to Brooksbaseball.net.
But it was clear Wednesday that Sale’s secondary stuff hasn’t been as sharp. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez each hit two-strike changeups out over the plate to drive in three runs combined. On the season, hitters are batting .308 against Sale’s changeup, up from .206 last season. They’re also hitting his slider at a .389 clip versus .138 in 2014.
Still, Ventura is confident Sale isn’t far off.
“You can tell by his velocity and his changeup that he’s still Chris Sale,” Ventura said. “There might be something that we can tweak, and I’m sure he and (Don Cooper) will get in there and take a look at it.”