Chris Sale struck out thirteen batters over 7.2 innings of shutout baseball on Saturday against the Yankees. It was the thirteenth start this season in which Sale struck out over ten batters, and he allowed only five of the twenty-eight men he faced to reach base.
And yet he received a no-decision. The Red Sox offense managed just one run in a 4-1 loss, forcing their ace’s record to stand at 11-4.
Unfortunately it has been a common occurrence for Sale, the AL’s starting pitcher in last week’s All-Star game, to be let down by a lineup that should have little trouble scoring runs, considering the Red Sox rank 10th in MLB in runs scored.
If Sale simply received average run support in every one of his starts, his record would be 17-1. Yes, 17-1.
How did I arrive at that record? I simply took Boston’s run total per game–4.8–and extrapolated that throughout all of Sale’s nineteen starts. So all those games in which Sale lost despite allowing two runs or less–a 1-0 loss to the Phillies on June 15th; a 3-2 loss to Oakland on May 19th; and a 2-1 loss to the Tigers in early April. Those should’ve been wins if Boston simply had an average offensive showing.
The many times in which Sale received a no-decision despite not allowing any runs –opening day against the Pirates; April 20th against the Blue Jays; and yesterday against the Yankees. Those should have been wins, too.
Yet in order to do this properly, all the games in which Sale benefitted from great run support despite not pitching well should be counted as losses. However, there’s only been one instance in which Sale has been bailed out–a 13-7 victory against the White Sox when Sale uncharacteristically allowed six runs. So since this process involves the Red Sox scoring exactly 4.8 runs per game in each of Sale’s starts, that game goes down as a loss.
Moreover, there are two instances in which Sale allowed four runs. Again, if the Red Sox scored 4.8 runs every game, Sale would’ve won one of these starts. However, he would’ve received a no-decision in the other because Boston’s bullpen allowed two runs in a 17-6 victory against Minnesota in early May (that goes down as a loss for Boston in this hypothetical process, because the Sox would only have scored 4.8 runs instead of 17).
Here’s the conclusion. Nine of Sale’s eleven victories this season would still stand if Boston gave him average run support. One of the wins that would not stand, ironically, would register as a loss, while the other would go down as a no-decision. More importantly, his four losses would all vanish if the Sox’s offense held up their end of the bargain. And Sale’s four no-decision’s would turn into victories, as well. In short, all eight of his losses/no-decisions should have been wins.
Even though Sale’s historic season has been held back by fluky performances from the Red Sox offense, he still is nearly a lock to win the AL Cy Young. The wiry lefty leads AL starters in practically every major category–strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, WAR, innings pitched, etc.
The only major category he does not lead: wins.