Are Chris Sale’s AL Cy Young Award Chances Dead After Latest Rough Start?

First things first: Chris Sale is putting together one of the best campaigns ever by a Boston Red Sox pitcher. His dominance during his first year in Boston has been a sight to behold.

Yet for all the accolades Sale should receive this season, one trophy might be missing from his mantle: the American League Cy Young Award.

That Sale wouldn’t win the A.L. Cy Young was a preposterous notion two months ago: On July 27, he led the A.L. with a blistering 2.37 ERA and appeared to be running away with the award. But the months of August and September have been a shocking mixed bag for the left-handed ace: Sale has a 4.09 ERA over his last 11 starts and has allowed 13 home runs in that span.

Those numbers are even worse after his last eight outings, the latest being a five-runs-in-five-innings clunker against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

That Sale still boasts a sub-3.00 ERA (2.90) and 300-plus strikeouts despite that rough patch is a testament to how brilliant he’s been the rest of the season. But his latest struggles may have cost him the Cy Young at the expense of Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber. Here’s how Sale and Kluber stack up as of Wednesday:

Sale: 214 1/3 innings, 17-8 record, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 308 strikeouts, 43 walks
Kluber: 198 2/3 innings, 18-4 record, 2.27 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 262 strikeouts, 36 walks

Sale’s 308 strikeouts, which lead all of baseball and are six shy of breaking Pedro Martinez’s record for the most ever in a single season by a Red Sox pitcher, still keep him in this race. He’s also worked almost three extra games worth of innings compared to Kluber. But the Indians right-hander now has Sale beat in nearly every statistical category across the board.

Kluber also has been insanely good where Sale has faltered down the stretch: He’s 10-1 over his last 11 starts with a sterling 1.39 ERA and 101 strikeouts to Sale’s 97. The Cleveland ace has pitched three consecutive scoreless outings and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since Aug. 13.

Sale would be in line to pitch the Red Sox’s regular season finale on Oct. 1, but if Boston clinches the A.L. East before then, it’s possible we just saw his last outing of 2017. As the numbers stand now, Kluber — who has one more scheduled start next Monday — has to be the favorite to win his second Cy Young in four years.

That means Sale, for all of his incredible efforts this season, once again will end the year without a Cy Young award to his name.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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