Last week after Chris Sale’s rough start versus Detroit, I offered up some possible explanation for his poor performance in the article Chris’ Slider Sale-ing Away. I showed how his slider usage had been replaced with a higher fastball usage, which I believed to be a possible factor in his ugly stat line and decline in strikeouts. However, I did say that his start at Milwaukee on Tuesday was going to be an easy one on paper since the Brewers have struggled versus left-handed pitching this year. So even though it was an easy outing on paper, it was still nice to see Sale turn in his best performance of the season as he lasted 8 innings while allowing just 2 ER on 4 base runners and whiffing 11.
I want to examine Sale’s pitch selection from Tuesday night’s starts versus the Brewers to see if he made any changes to his approach that led to the much more Sale-esque outing. So according to the data presented on MLB.com Gameday, out of the 110 pitches that Sale threw, the breakdown went as follows: 67 fastballs (all two-seamers), 31 changeups, and 12 sliders. Percentage wise, that translates to 60.9% fastballs, 28.2% changeups, and 10.9% sliders, which is basically right in line with what his pitch usage had been prior to this start.
So it is interesting to note that he was able to have a dominant strikeout performance while still trading in his slider for more fastballs to possibly squash my theory that he needed to utilize his slider more for future success. We’ll see if this can be a trend that Sale continues or if he was just taking advantage of pitching in a National League park and facing a team who has struggled against lefties this year. I still think that Sale would offer more strikeout potential, leading to a better overall performance, if he upped his slider usage and relied less on his fastball, but we will have to wait and see what happens. Sale will toe the rubber on Monday versus the reigning AL Cy Young Corey Kluber.
To be continued…