Back in April, the Red Sox ace wasn’t looking like one.
After four starts, Chris Sale owned a 8.50 earned run average and his fastball had noticeably lost some pop. He finished the month with an 0-5 record.
“This is flat-out embarrassing, for my family, for my team, for our fans,” Sale said on April 16.
Still, the Boston lefty was adamant to the media that he was healthy.
Apparently that wasn’t the case. According to Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic, Sale was battling a previously undisclosed toe injury that attributed to his struggles during the first month of the season.
“Chris’ spring training was different,” Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie told McCaffrey. “We tried to do the exact same things we did last year. The only difference is, Chris was going through contract negotiations, [but] he had a little bit of a toe injury that slowed him down a little bit, so there were some things that led up to the early-on stuff. I basically felt like he was going through his spring training, sort of in April.”
4th straight game of at least 10 Ks for Chris Sale!
(Watching this GIF, it's not hard to see why.) pic.twitter.com/R86oaqX32R
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 19, 2019
LeVangie also revealed that the Red Sox staff had been tweaking Sale’s arm path, another factor reportedly restricting the velocity on his fastball.
“We wanted a cleaner line going back, rather than straight behind him and it didn’t allow him to work more back to front in his delivery,” he said.
Sale has seemingly bounced back in the month of May with a 1.29 ERA and 41 strikeouts in three starts, including 17 punch-outs against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday when he hit as high as 96 miles per hour on the gun. He’s now had four straight start with 10 or more strikeouts.