What Excites Chaim Bloom, Red Sox About Chris Sale Turnaround

Sale is showing signs of again being who he once was


May 25, 2023

Slowly, but surely, Chris Sale is looking more and more like the pitcher who consistently was one of the most dominant in the game.

Or, as Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told NESN’s Tom Caron recently, the “glimmers” are there as Sale strives for a full return to the level everyone expects of him.

Bloom joined the “TC & Company Podcast” this week and talked about the ongoing process for Sale. The Red Sox pitcher endured some brutal injury luck and general ineffectiveness over the last few years but looks healthy again this season. Despite the clean bill of health, he struggled out of the gates but is starting to find it atop an otherwise inconsistent Red Sox rotation.

The bottom line still isn’t what you’d expect for Sale, at least not compared to the pitcher who was a Cy Young Award contender every season at the height of his powers. Sale is 4-2 with a 5.01 ERA, with a WHIP nearing 1.2. He has been much better lately, though. After the Baltimore Orioles tagged him for five runs in five innings on April 24, Sale’s ERA stood at 8.22. He was able to shave those three runs off with a four-start stretch in which he allowed just seven runs in 27 1/3 innings while striking out 32 and walking just three. More importantly, the Red Sox won three of those four starts. That one loss came in arguably his best start of the season when he pitched eight innings of one-run ball before Kenley Jansen blew a save in the ninth inning.

“There’s no victory lap to take. We’re just happy that this is the guy we’re seeing,” Bloom told Caron on the podcast this week. ” … It hasn’t been linear for him, either. You talk about someone who’s as accomplished as just about anyone out there pitching. After so many bumps and bruises and so much time off, we’re seeing him go through the process of relearning who he is.”

Stuff-wise, Sale appears back, too. His average four-seam fastball has been a tick under 95 mph this season, consistent with his performance last year after returning from Tommy John surgery and reminiscent of the velocity he displayed before the arm problems. Even the changeup is showing signs of improvement. Opposing hitters had a .330 expected batting average against the pitch in 2021; this season, that expected batting average is down to .273 against the off-speed pitch.

That’s still not what it was in his prime, and it’s possible Sale doesn’t return to that pitcher. But Bloom is hopeful and expects even more progress to be made.

“It’s exciting when you see him take these steps because he probably isn’t even fully locked in yet,” the Red Sox executive added. “Every time he takes the ball, it seems like we’re seeing glimmers of something we haven’t seen in a while.”

Sale will get the ball Friday night when the Red Sox open a three-game set in Arizona. First pitch is set for 9:40 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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