Sale’s smarts stagger Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Sun-Times Media June 15, 2012 10:58PM
Sun-Times sportswriter Daryl Van Schouwen. January 27, 2012 | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: August 23, 2012 9:53AM
LOS ANGELES — White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper likes to say a pitcher earns his first paycheck with his arm, and he makes a living with his brain.
Chris Sale has the stuff to be one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time. Making his first tour as a major-league starter, he’s the best pitcher in the majors right now according to teammate Jake Peavy, and it’s because he knows exactly what to do with his exceptional talent.
Going into his anticipated matchup with Dodgers Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw late Friday night, the 23-year-old Sale ranked second in baseball in ERA (2.05), WHIP (0.92) and opponents’ OPS (.524).
There’s talk Sale could start the All-Star Game — that’s how good he is.
“Chris is unbelievable makeup wise,’’ Peavy said. “Just now, after the last month, he understands how good he is yet he’s humble enough to understand he still has work to do. But I don’t think he understood how good he was. He fully understands now.”
Peavy likes that Sale is going the extra distance to be good, seeing the same massage therapist he is and taking time out of his own schedule to take care of his body.
“It’s scary how good he can be,’’ Peavy said. “It’s been unbelievable watching him mature.’’
What makes Sale tough to hit is the low angle delivery, the deception in the release and his change of speeds. All pitchers change speeds, but Sale will throw his fastball at 88, 93, 97 mph. Hitters hate that.
Most young pitchers can’t resist throwing their hardest fastball every time. Not Sale.
“He’s figured it out,’’ Nieves said.
“He knows he’s good. He knew he was good when he was in the bullpen -- where he was an enforcer -- not just a decent lefty.
“Now he’s showing the maturity. The serenity of a starter. He’s under control, which is great.
Ohman said Sale and Carlos Marmol – when Marmol was going good – are the only pitchers he’s seen who can hang a slider and get away with it. That’s because the pitch looks like a fastball coming out of his hand from such a tough sidearm angle, so hitters take it.
Sale’s 15-strikeout game against the Rays was big, but Ohman said Sale’s complete game against Seattle on June 3 was bigger.
“All of a sudden he realized what he was capable of,’’ Ohman said. “Not that he has to go out there and match that every time but that is something he legitimately can do every time.’’
Sports editor’s note: The White Sox-Dodgers game ended too late for this edition. For late scores, go to www.suntimes.com/sports.