Breaking Down the Numbers: Pedro’s Immaculate 1999 Season, Chris Sale’s Hot Start
Photo Credit: Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports
The bar was raised pretty high for Chris Sale after his arrival to the Boston Red Sox. Having been acquired from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for top prospect Yoan Moncada and several other well thought of other minor leaguers, Boston had quite literally bet the farm on the ace. However, right off the bat Sale has been a fan favorite, and (so far) he has lived up to the expectations.
Sale has even started drawing comparisons to legendary Red Sox starting pitcher Pedro Martinez since early in the season after the former White Sox had 8 straight starts with 10 or more strikeouts, tying Pedro and his own MLB record.
Pedro has shown his respect to the Red Sox ace on several occasions on Twitter. On April 20, Pedro said Sale brought the intensity to the game.
I think the real keyword in the tweet is IF, because we all know Pedro isn’t paying for tickets to see any game.
He tweeted on May 3, “Chris Sale has already surpassed everything I’ve done.”
Pedro has also been an an analyst on MLB Tonight since 2015 and was publicly rooting for Sale to break his record this season.
Now that the All-Star break is coming to an end, it’s time to compare Chris Sale’s All-Star performance and first 18 starts to those of Pedro’s immaculate 1999 season:
All-Star break comparison
The numbers are strikingly similar, putting Sale on pace for a Cy Young year statistically. Martinez’s sheer dominance on the hill could be seen in his earned runs for his entire 1999 season giving up only 49 earned runs including 9 homeruns. Sale has already given up 39 earned runs while giving up 11dingers. 5 of those 11 dingers came in his last 4 starts before the All-Star break. This number shouldn’t alarm fans as I feel it shows how the game has developed over the years with more powerful pitching that ultimately leads to more homeruns. This June, the MLB as a whole broke the record for most homeruns in a month with 1,101.
All-Star start comparison
Going into the All-Star break in 1999 Pedro was leading the Majors in both wins (15) and ERA (2.1), with an utter command of the baseball was evident when he became the first player ever to strikeout the first three batters of the All-Star game. And like Pedro did, Sale even one upped that striking out four in a row.
Sale, starting in his second consecutive All-Star game for the American League on Tuesday, keep the NL quiet with 3 hits through two innings. The Red Sox ace struck out Giancarlo Stanton in the first on a 98 MPH heater and then ended the second inning with a strikeout to Marlin’s hometown player Marcell Ozuna. Sale brought the heat, throwing 6 of his 11 pitches in the first above 98 MPH topping out at 99.5.
Sale leads the American League in strikeouts (178), has the most inning pitched(127.2) and the second lowest ERA(2.75). As long as he continues his pinpoint accuracy with his fierce fastball and skidding slider, Sale should continue his AL dominance in the second half of the season.
Sale has the potential to record more than 313 strikeouts, as Pedro did in 1999, and with only 22 walks so far this season, I expect Sale to have a similar 8:1 K to BB ratio.
Both pitchers respectfully played, or are playing in, eras where homeruns are significant elements of the game and because of this fact I believe it will be hard for Sale to post an ERA better than 2.07 which Martinez finished with in 1999. Sale will ultimately hover around and end the season with a respectable 2.45 ERA.