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Is Vazquez to Blame for Sale’s Struggles His Last Time Out?

Why did Chris Sale struggle and take the blame after an ugly game pitching to Christain Vazquez?

Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In the game this past Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians, which the Boston Red Sox would win 12-10, no pitcher received a free pass.

It has the makings of a pitcher’s duel with Carlos Carrasco opposing Chris Sale, but was anything but that.

Craig Kimbrel blew a save, Addison Reed had a poor Boston debut, Carrasco got roughed up, Cody Allen was destroyed, Andrew Miller wasn’t sharp and Sale got absolutely annihilated.

The BoSox ace hurled five innings, allowed eight hits and a season-high seven runs. Brandon Guyer took him deep, Michael Brantley roughed him up and Edwin Encarnacion put the nail in the coffin.

This left people wondering weather it had something to do with the southpaw’s battery mate for the night – Christian Vazquez – who was catching in place of Sandy Leon who was dealing with a right-knee injury he sustained three nights before in a walk-off win. This was the first time all season Sale was pitching to Vazquez.

During postgame interviews, Sale, whose ERA spiked from 2.37 to 2.70, was taking all the blame for the ugly game, making specific note to his lack of location and leaving pitches over the center of the plate.

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Photo Credit: Fangraphs.com

But,was he just saying those things, and being a nice guy by not blaming his teammate?

Pictured (to the left) are the pitch location percents from each 2017 season game prior to Tuesday.

Pictured (below) are Tuesday’s locations.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Fangraphs.com

Just one quick glance at both of those graphs can tell a really big story.

41.4 perfect of all pitches thrown on Tuesday were down in (and/or out of) the lower half of the zone and near the center. That is 39 of 94 pitches he threw that night.

Now, if we look at the same locations from the cumulative games prior to Tuesday, we can see far more variety in his pitch locations.
Only 17.5 percent of the pitches landed in the same zones. That’s only 403 of 2,303 total pitches.

It would appear as though Sale was just having an off night, and he will be back to tossing gems soon, as this is going to serve as motivation to him.

If it did have anything to do with Vazquez, he went on to redeem himself in the bottom on the ninth inning with a walk-off home run.

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