The race for the Cy Young in the American league is now up for grabs since Masahiro Tanaka has been sidelined with a UCL tear. From the perspective of the average baseball fan it may seem like Felix Hernandez is the head and shoulders favorite to take the award this year, but Chris Sale is quietly making a case for himself. He isn’t officially eligible for the ERA title as he missed some time with a flexor muscle strain early in the season, but a few solid starts will put him back on the map. MLB experts didn’t have the Chicago White Sox finishing with a record good enough to make the playoffs, and that’s exactly where they currently stand. However, a solid second half from Sale and the rest of the pitching staff could be enough to get the Sox back in the hunt.
It’s hard to find a weakness in Sale’s game as he has been as consistent as any pitcher in the game this year. He’s allowed over 3 runs in a game just once, and has had an ERA hovering around 2.00 for the majority of the year. This team shouldn’t be 7 games under .500 with the offense that they produce, but their pitching staff ranks 25th in baseball with a 4.13 team ERA. With a line-up that includes rookie sensation Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez, this team has more than enough bats to keep pace in the explosive American League. The problem has been the lack of production from the bottom of the order, and the pitching staff’s inability to hold leads.
Sale has an opportunity to increase his record to 9-1 with a solid outing against a Royals offense that is the second worst in scoring runs in the A.L. K.C. has the potential to be much better than they are, yet they fail to drive in runs due to their lack of pop. They’re 5th in the league in batting average, and don’t take advantage of it as they have driven in just 388 runs in 97 games. Beating Sale will take some timely hitting and a solid performance from journeyman Jeremy Guthrie.
Guthrie has pitched for 4 teams in 10 years, and is a middle of the rotation talent. He has put together a couple of quality seasons, but for the most part he is expected to keep his teams in games, and save the bullpen. He can be a tough to beat when he’s on his game, but baseball handicappers aren’t giving him much credit for this contest as they have listed Sale and the Sox as -170 favorites. Tune in tonight as a pair of middle-of-the-road A.L. Central squads battle to turn things around in the second half.