Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

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Getting up to speed on Chris Sale

Friday night's White Sox game featured a somber Hawk Harrelson spouting off Chris Sale's fastball speeds as if they were losing lottery numbers. Why? Because they were more reminiscent of the glory years of the Oakland A's' Bash Brothers (88-90) than Chicago summer temperatures (95-97). In addition, our elongated lefty had been relying more on his off-speed stuff more than usual, and he'd had similar problems the previous Saturday in Detroit.

South Side fandom had been holding its collective breath all season long as our phenom racked up innings in numbers his left arm had never seen. Cries of "dead arm" were almost immediate. Let's take a look at the numbers.

For a frame of reference, and for consistency's sake, let's look at Sale's two-seam fastballs over his past four starts (Pitch fx numbers courtesy of the wonderful brooksbaseball.net):

GameAvg. Velocity
Max Velocity
727 @TEX
90.2292.40721 @DET
91.4094.00715 @KC
92.2695.8073 vs. TEX
92.2896.30

That's four straight starts with a dip in both average and max velocity. The Twitterverse is concerned. But is Sale concerned? Not according to his postgame comments: "No, everything is fine. It's getting late in the year, that might be a little bit of it, but that's something I'm not paying attention to. I honestly couldn't care less how hard I'm throwing."

Make no mistake about it, Sale's poise was impressive Friday night in Arlington; he maintained his focus after a rough 28-pitch first inning in which he allowed four Rangers runs. The next three innings were highly economical; 31 pitches, 27 strikes, with just two harmless singles allowed. In the fifth, he rebounded from first and second, nobody out situation with three straight punchouts.

A rocky outing by Nate Jones is what ultimately allowed the fifth run to score, as his HBP and walk which loaded the bases, allowing Josh Hamilton to drive in Sale's runner with a groundout. But despite Sale garnering his 12th win of the season, it was the loss in velocity that was the story.

And the story continues; Jake Peavy will be starting in place of Sale on Wednesday, affording him an extra day of rest. Here's what Sale had to say on the extra rest:

"Nothing terrible, nothing anyone else doesn't go through...We all feel this is something that's going to benefit us and benefit myself, a few extra days off, so the next couple months we can make a push and get after it."

The learning curve will continue through the rest of the season for both Sale himself and for the White Sox coaching staff. It has certainly been a long time since Chicago's American Leaguers have brought along a power arm at such a young age. It has been and will continue to be an important storyline throughout the remainder of the season.

How Yoan Moncada's first hit stacks up against all-time White Sox greats

How Yoan Moncada's first hit stacks up against all-time White Sox greats

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yoan Moncada broke the seal in a big way on Friday night.

Facing Kansas City’s Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy at Kauffman Stadium, baseball’s top prospect delivered a three-run triple in the top of the third inning to earn his first hit with the White Sox. Moncada’s two-strike, two-out, opposite-field triple to left-center field arrived in his fifth plate appearance with the White Sox.

Below is a chart of how the top 11 White Sox in Wins Above Replacement, according to baseball-reference, notched their first hits.

Player, WAR

date | venue | inning | outs | opponent | pitcher | result | plate appearance

Luke Appling, 74.5 WAR

9/10/30 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Red Sox | Danny MacFayden | 1B | third PA

Frank Thomas, 68.2 WAR

8/3/90 | County Stadium | T7 | 2 outs | Brewers | Mark Knudson | 3B | seventh PA

Eddie Collins, 66.6 WAR

4/14/1915 | Sportsman’s Park III | N/A | N/A | STL Browns | Carl Weilan | 1B | N/A

Nellie Fox, 46.95 WAR

5/18/50 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Senators | Sid Hudson | 1B | fifth PA

Minnie Minoso, 41.36 WAR

5/1/51 | Comiskey Park | B1 | 1 out | Yankees |  Vic Raschi | HR | first PA

Robin Ventura, 39.37 WAR

9/12/89 | Memorial Stadium | T4 | 2 outs | Orioles | Ben McDonald | 1B | third PA

Luis Aparicio, 35.28 WAR

4/17/56 | Comiskey Park | B7 | 1 out | Indians | Bob Lemon | 1B | third PA

George Davis, 33.09 WAR

1902 | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A

Fielder Jones, 31.81 WAR

1901 | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A

Carlton Fisk, 28.8 WAR

4/10/81 | Fenway Park | T3 | 1 out | Red Sox | Dennis Eckersley | 1B | second PA

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoan Moncada can’t complain much about his first hit with the White Sox.

Given all the elements, it rates about a 9 1/ 2 out of 10. Only a homer would have been better.

Baseball’s top prospect continues to look comfortable at the plate and in the field. Two days after he made his team debut, Moncada earned his first hit when he ripped a two-out, bases-loaded triple early in Friday night’s 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Moncada finished 1-for-4 with four RBIs.

“Once I got that first hit, I felt relieved,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “First, because it was the first one. And second because of the situation. It was a three RBIs triple. It was a very big moment of the game. I think that from now on I’m going to feel more relaxed and comfortable.”

Moncada has put together a series of good plate appearances in his first two games. He’s looked at ease while in the box and hasn’t panicked even when he gets behind in the count. Moncada said he felt even more comfortable when he stepped in to face Royals starter Ian Kennedy in the third inning. Not only was it his second time facing Kennedy, but Moncada sat in the on-deck circle as Matt Davidson drew a 10-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs.

Hitting left-handed, Moncada fell behind 0-2 in the count but Kennedy hung a 78-mph knuckle curve and the rookie lined it deep into the left-center field gap to clear the bases. Moncada not only showed his power, he also showed off his wheels: his 11.24 seconds from home to third was the fastest time by a White Sox player this season, according to MLB Statcast.

“He's seeing the ball,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He seems pretty calm, composed out there. It's just a couple of days, but in terms of how he's carrying himself, his body language, he seems to be transitioning pretty well up to this point, first couple of days.”

Moncada said Friday was much calmer than his Wednesday debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he drew a walk and went 0-for-2. The switch-hitting second baseman had an RBI groundout in his first at-bat Friday to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then he stood in and tracked Kennedy with Davidson at the plate.

All in all, Moncada’s happy with how he’s executed his plan at the plate thus far. He said he choked up on the 0-2 pitch and put a good swing on it.

“That at-bat gave me more time to see in real life his pitches,” Moncada said. “I’ve been feeling very comfortable. In Chicago, that first game, it was a little bit nervous. But overall I feel very comfortable hitting and with my defense.”