Steve Sax is confident Chris Sale will pitch more like himself in 2020 because his character endures.

The former Major League Baseball All-Star predicted Sunday on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM the Boston Red Sox ace will enjoy a bounce-back season because of his extraordinary mental toughness. Sale in 2019 endured the worst season of his MLB career, and a serious elbow injury ended his campaign almost two months prematurely. He believes he’ll be ready to take the mound March 26 on Opening Day, and Sax expects him to return to elite status. Here’s why.

“You know what the best quality Chris Sale has?” Sax asked. ” … The best thing he has going for him is his mind. His mind is very very strong. He owns up to things, he takes it in a mature way. You can tell by the way he was brought up, the accountability part of it is huge for him. And his mind and his approach is the best thing Chris Sale has going for him.

“I can relate a lot to him because he sounds like the way I was brought up. The strength that you have is about what you are in your heart and your soul as a person. And I believe that Chris Sale has got that in spades, so watch him come out like a tiger this year and turn this thing around.”

Sax isn’t alone in predicting Sale to return to form in 2020. DraftKings Sportsbook gave Sale the second-best odds to win the 2020 American League Cy Young Award, and he was one of the last cuts in a list of the top-10 MLB pitchers ESPN’s Buster Olney’s published last month.

Sale’s previous body of work warrants the faith the Red Sox, Olney, DraftKings and others have in him, but only a bounce-back season can justify it fully.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images