Chris Sale is a legitimate NL Cy Young threat

MLB: MAY 08 Red Sox at Braves

Some Braves fans were hesitant to jump on the Chris Sale train when Alex Anthopoulos acquired him this offseason. Most of that was due to his injury history, but even the most pessimistic fans understood the kind of potential weapon he could be if healthy in October. However, I’m not even sure the most optimistic people towards the acquisition saw this coming.

Chris Sale isn’t just a complement to Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Charlie Morton. He’s been by far the best pitcher of them all. Last night, he toed the rubber in a Braves uniform for the ninth time, going seven scoreless innings against the Padres, who never really threatened against him. Chris Sale now has a scoreless innings streak of 20. Over his last five starts, he boasts a 0.56 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 32 innings.

The Braves have been mired in a slump of sorts for the last month, but every five days, Chris Sale has come out and helped the team to a much-needed win. He’s become the prototypical “stopper” for the club, something they’ve desperately needed over this stretch.

On the season, Sale’s ERA is down to 2.22 to go along with a FIP of 2.23, xFIP of 2.40, xERA of 2.50, and 0.865 WHIP. He’s struck out 70 batters in 56.2 innings, good for a 31.7% strikeout rate, the highest mark of his career since his last healthy season back in 2019. Sale’s 3.6% walk rate is also the lowest mark of his career.

Arguments can be made about whether or not Chris Sale will be able to stay healthy for the entire season. He hasn’t been able to say that for five years, but what cannot be argued is the stuff. It’s still as nasty as ever, and if he makes his full allotment of starts, there’s no reason to believe he can’t win his first Cy Young award.

From 2012-2018, Sale made seven straight All-Star games. Over that stretch, he never finished outside of the top six in the AL Cy Young race. He currently has the highest K/9 rate of any pitcher in MLB history and has a chance to become just the 20th pitcher to ever record 3,000 strikeouts in his career.

If Braves fans didn’t understand the potential upside they were getting in Chris Sale a few months ago, they are well aware now. When healthy, he is one of the most dominant strikeout artists the game has ever seen.

Sale said on several occasions leading up to the season this is the first fully healthy offseason he’s had in five years. If anybody was doubting him, they surely are not anymore.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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