Sale's changeup the key to righty success

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Sale's changeup the key to righty success

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.

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Oakland Athletics tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (4-7, 5.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

MINNEAPOLIS -- Some guys played cards. The soccer ball got kicked around in spite of the close quarters in the visiting clubhouse. There was dancing. A magic trick or two was attempted. A few players even tried to get in a nap.

White Sox players found myriad ways to keep themselves occupied during Thursday’s draining 4-hour, 50-minute rain delay -- the longest in Minnesota Twins history.

Yet despite not knowing what time the game may start, White Sox players found a way to overcome the uncertainty and stay engaged. Similar to May 26 when the first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers was cancelled, the White Sox figured out how to go from zero to 60 in mere seconds. Though there’s no exact formula for success, the White Sox seem to have figured out a way to endure the elements and get out quickly. On early Thursday evening, the White Sox overcame the rain and misery to jump ahead of the Minnesota Twins en route to a 9-0 victory at Target Field.

“We keep it real loose whether,” veteran third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We have a good time. We enjoy each other’s company. Win lose or draw, tomorrow’s a new day. Today we kept working hard and we knew we had a game to play and eventually we were going to play it. We turned it on at the right moment.”

Jose Quintana saw so much of his iPad that eventually he had to turn it off out of sheer boredom. Thursday’s starting pitcher was almost able to complete two feature-length movies during the rain delay. Quintana, who excelled with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, watched ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and ‘Get Out’ on his iPad during the delay.

While he liked the action movie, Quintana wasn’t as fond of the latter, though he admits he’s not a big fan of horror movies.

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“I think it was bad because too much time in front of the iPad,” Quintana said. “It made me bored.

“I just tried to stay relaxed, focused on the game. … Tried to come back and work a little bit. It’s a little hard, but we don’t have control so stay focused on the game.”

Whereas the White Sox determined when they played last month at home -- they cancelled Game 1 of a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and pushed the second game back to 8 p.m. because of rain -- this time was in the Twins’ hands. The forecast called for rain all afternoon before things cleared up around 5 p.m.

While the White Sox were in limbo as to when they would play, they had a pretty good idea that eventually they would.

“It’s miserable,” Frazier said. “You try and find some things to do, play cards, hang out with the guys. If you had a set time it would help. But we came out banging in that first inning. It’s huge.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria is impressed with how his team has handled both long days. The White Sox also defeated the Tigers 8-2 on May 26th. While Renteria and his coaching staff spent a lot of his time preparing for their upcoming home series against the Oakland A’s, he’s pleased with how his players managed themselves through the uncertainty.  

“They’re the ones who are dealing with the chaos,” Renteria said. “They’re the ones who play the game and who have to have their minds to be ready to go out and perform. They’ve been able to respond well. It’s part of who they are, their character, and hopefully it’s something they continue to be able to do and build on.”