Braves: This version of Chris Sale is nothing new

MLB: APR 26 Guardians at Braves

When the Braves acquired Chris Sale via trade this offseason, it was met with mixed results. He came with an extensive injury history, with his last fully healthy season coming all the way back in 2019. But most agreed that if the Braves could coddle him through the regular season, he might be just what the doctor ordered come October.

That tune has changed significantly after the first seven weeks of the season. To something more along the lines of, “This guy might just mess around and win the NL CY Young.”

Last night, Chris Sale toed the rubber in a Braves uniform for the eighth time, tossing seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball and striking out nine. The outing lowered his ERA on the season to 2.54, and his FIP is even lower at 2.45 while he strikes out over 11 batters per nine innings.

This version of Chris Sale is nothing new, however. We know about the seven straight All-Star appearances from 2012-2018. A stretch of baseball where he never once finished outside the top six of the AL Cy Young race, despite never winning the award. If it wasn’t for injuries, Sale would be a shoo-in for the Hall-of-Fame, but even more recently, the now 35-year-old was flashing this type of ability prior to the Braves trading for him.

Even though Sale only made 20 starts for the Red Sox last season, he finished the year looking like he might have found himself. Dating back to September 16th, Sale is third in all of baseball (minimum 11 starts) in ERA with a 2.16, behind only Seth Lugo and Dylan Cease.

I’m not sure how, or if, the Braves plan to limit his workload throughout the season to ensure he’s fully loaded for October. I imagine they’ll put a lot of weight into how the veteran says he feels, but Chris Sale has only made 31 starts since the start of the 2020 season. Sometimes, it’s the organization’s job to protect players from themselves.

However, if the Braves decide to ride this wave with no limitations, the fans may be in for a treat. Chris Sale isn’t some fourth starter that could potentially get the Braves over the hump in the postseason. He’s a bonafide ace who’s more than ready to lead this rotation with Spencer Strider out for the year.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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