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Candidate For Comeback Pitcher of the Year: Chris Sale – Braves

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For the first nine seasons of his MLB career, Chris Sale was a dominate pitcher, winning 17 games three times, while leading the league in strikeouts with 274 in 2015 and 308 in 2017.

Sale made his MLB debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2010, and spent seven seasons with the Sox (2010-2016) before being traded to the Boston Red Sox on December 6, 2016. From 2012 to 2018, he was a seven-time all star, finished in the Top 10 for the Cy Young award in each season, coming as close to winning it in 2017, as he finished second. The Lakeland, Florida product, even has a World Series Championship ring, which he earned in his second season with the Boston Red Sox in 2018.

The 2018 season was a turning point for Sale, that no one could have predicted. Even though he capped off his season with a Championship, he spent time on the DL with left shoulder inflammation. In 2019, he had his first losing season in six years, as he finished 6-11, with the worse ERA of his career (4.40) in 25 starts. Sale was placed on the DL in August, with left elbow inflammation, which ended his season. Then in the shortened 2020 season, the lefty sat on the sidelines with a left ulnar collateral ligament tear.

On February 18, 2021, Sale underwent Tommy John surgery, and returned to the mound on August 14th, tossing five innings, allowing just two runs on six hits, striking out eight and earning the victory. He went on to finish the year, starting nine games, with a 5-1 record, 3.16 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched.

The bad vibes continued for Sale to the start of the 2022 season, as he suffered right rib stress fracture on April 4, 2022.  The Red Sox activated Sale on July 12, and he tossed five shutout innings, allowing just three hits and struck out five. Then on July 17, Sale started the game against the New York Yankees, but lasted just .2 inning, and was placed on the DL after he suffered a left fifth finger fracture, on a comebacker to the mound, ending his season.

A return back to action in 2023, saw Sale start 20 games, and post a 6-5 record with a 4.30 ERA, while striking out 125 batters in 102.2 innings. The season was not clear of any injuries, as Sale was placed on the DL on June 2 with left shoulder inflammation. The southpaw returned to the mound on August 11, and finished out the season with a solid month of September posting a 2.88 ERA in five starts. In three straight outings, he tossed 16 innings, allowing just two runs, on eight hits, while striking out 19 batters. A good way to end a season that had more promise then it gave.

On December 30, 2023, Boston parted ways with their once ace, as they traded him to the Atlanta Braves for shortstop Vaughn Grissom.

The change of scenery has done wonders for Chris Sale, as he is enjoying a tremendous start to the 2024 season.

Overall, he is 8-1, with a 2.12 ERA, and has 78 strikeouts in 63.2 innings pitched. The only blemish thus far came on April 13th against the Miami Marlins, when he gave up five runs, on six hits, in seven innings, while earning the loss.  Since then, Sale has won seven straight starts, pitching one gem after another.

On April 19th, he lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits, then came back with another seven inning start, allowing just one run on two hits, and six strikeouts.

After a victory over the Seattle Mariners, where he tossed five innings, allowing one run on six hits, the Braves hosted the Red Sox on May 8th, which would be his first start against his old squad. Sale didn’t disappoint, as he pitched six shutout innings, allowing six huts and struck out a season high 10 batters.

In his last three wins, Sale tossed 21 innings, allowing one run on 11 hits, with 26 strikeouts.  Every one of the three starts, he went seven innings, and finsihd the month of May, 5-0, with a 0.56 ERA, with 45 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched.

Sale enters Tuesday, second in the Majors with eight wins, eighth in ERA (2.12), fifth in strikeouts (78), second with a 0.85 WHIP and ninth with a opponents batting just .193 against him.

After Spencer Strider’s season was cut short on April 5th, Sale stepped up and became the Ace the Braves needed and so far at 30-21, they sit in second place, six games behind the 38-17 Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves are hurting as Ronald Acuña Jr’s season was cut short on Monday, after suffering a left ACL Tear. So a trip back to the post season may be in jeopardy, but Sale can help to save what seems to now be a lost season.

Entering the 2024 season, no one could predict that Sale would be this impressive or that he would move into the role of the Braves Ace, so there is not doubt that if a comeback award is to be given out, that Chris Sale would be the frontrunner to win outright.

David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®, as well as a Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. David was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline.com, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com that spanned from 2010 to 2014. David made his MLB Debut as a writer in June 2014, while covering the NY Mets at Citi Field, for MetsmerizedOnline.com. David also managed his Cape Coral 16U Rec Ball team for the past two seasons and on May 13, 2024 they won their league Championship. On May 15th, David started the first ever Legends on Deck 16U Travel Baseball team in SWFL. David's passion is teaching the game he loves to the future Legends of Tomorrow as well as making available a website that people can have fun sharing and reading. David is also passionate about his career as a Mortgage Loan Officer which allows him to help many families reach their dreams of owning a home. Connect with David via his Social Media pages as he loves to chat all about baseball.

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