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.

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

The White Sox have agreed to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations late Monday, according to multiple major league sources.

Bourjos was signed to a minor league contract and invited to camp with the White Sox. He was expected to see a good amount of playing time in center field in the wake of Charlie Tilson’s injury.

Trading Bourjos improves rookie Jacob May’s chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Bourjos, 29, has played for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels over the span of his career. His best season came with the Angels in 2011, when he hit .271 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs. 

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.