One of the most important trends to follow in Chris Sale's maiden starting pitching voyage this year will be his ability to get right-handers out. That may seem obvious, but putting it into context, only 55 percent of the batters Sale faced as a reliever were righties. As a starter, he can expect about four of every five batters he faces to hit right-handed.
As Eno Sarris at Fangraphs points out, Sale's funky three-quarters release point may make him more prone to significant platoon splits. He's already exhibited those as a reliever -- against lefties, Sale has a 2.10 FIP; against righties, he has a 3.73 FIP.
Going behind those numbers, Sale's walk rate is slightly higher against righties while his strikeout rate is essentially equal. But the reason for Sale's lessened success (and a 3.73 FIP is still successful, for the record) is a much higher home run rate against righties -- of the eight home runs he's allowed in his career, seven have been to righties.
Against lefties, Sale has been exclusively a fastball-slider pitcher. According to Texas Leaguers' pitch fx database, Sale has thrown a grand total of one changeup against a left-handed opponent in his two-year MLB career. That fastball-slider combo should be effective even with facing batters multiple times through the lineup -- it's that good.
Sale's thrown his changeup 13 percent of the time against righties, though, and it's proven to be one of his more successful pitches. Righties swing at it at a higher rate than any of his other pitches (48 percent) while whiffing at it more than any other pitch (18 percent). The swing and whiff rates on his slider and fastball both go down when Sale faces a righty instead of a lefty.
Back to Sarris' point on Sale's release point -- a well-thrown changeup will mitigate those concerns. Sale's slider may be easier to lay off of as righties have a greater exposure to Sale, but the changeup isn't a pitch they should be able to pick up out of Sale's hand.
No matter what Sale does, he'll see some sort of lefty-righty split. He's so good against lefties that it's inevitable. But success with his changeup should narrow the gap.
Tyler Saladino has reached the point where it’s significantly easier for him to find comfortable positions for his herniated disc.
The White Sox infielder joked on Friday that his dugout seat was cozy enough that he might just idle for a few days. But before he returned home earlier this week and received an epidural, the second-year player experienced several days of excruciating pain.
Saladino — who won’t play again this season — said he received the shot on Monday and it has helped immensely with a problem he has experienced occasionally this season, this instance being the most painful.
“It was kind of crippling for a little bit,” Saladino said. “Those first few days, I really was out of commission. I kind of was just trying to find a comfortable spot and stay there. Standing up, it would catch. It was pretty painful. That’s how I know it was a little bit more. That’s why I went and got that shot to try to let the medicine get there right away. It has been working and helping a lot.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Saladino’s stay in Chicago is open-ended until he feels good enough to fly back to San Diego for the offseason. He’s set for another doctor appointment soon and is optimistic based on this week’s improvement. Saladino, who is hitting .282/.315/.409 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs, hasn’t played since Sept. 21. He injured himself two days later in Cleveland before the Sept. 23 contest and hasn’t been right since.
The injury has provided a disappointing end to an enjoyable season in which Saladino showed improvement at the plate (his OPS is up 122 points from 2015).
“It was a lot of fun to be out there with the guys,” Saladino said. “The whole season was a roller coaster for everybody around here. The whole approach we’ve had all year of grinding every game was its own. They’re still doing a really good job right now. Kind of stinks to not, I don’t care, as long as I can play and even pinch run I would be stoked to be with the guys. But at this point, the back thing, you have to take care of it.”
The Score’s Jordan Bernfield, The Tribune’s KC Johnson and ESPN 1000’s Ben Finfer join David Kaplan. The panel discusses Cubs confidence levels heading into the postseason, whether or not Chris Sale should start the season finale. Plus will the Bears beat the Lions without Jay Cutler and can the Bulls be a Top 4 team in the East?
Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: