By: Dylan Porcaro
Let’s go back to December 4th, 2015, when the Boston Red Sox signed ace pitcher David Price to a 7 year, $217-million-dollar contract.
After a disappointing 2014 season for the Sox (last in the AL East division), it was clear they needed a stronger pitching rotation. After his signing, it was an up and down season for Price. Although he finished the year with a respectable 17-9 record to go along with 228 strikeouts, it all came down to how he performed in the playoffs. He came in with a disappointing 2-7 record (the two wins as a reliever) and a lot of postseason question marks. He got the ball in game 2 of the ALDS, and once again, he could not answer the bell. Price gave up 5 runs in just 3.1 innings of work, leaving a bad taste in all of Red Sox nation’s mouths as the season ended in failure. Luckily, they were able to see the light of day just two months after the playoff loss, on December 6th, 2016.
Almost exactly a year removed from the Price signing, Boston exercised the philosophy of trading potential talent for proven talent. They traded 19-year-old Phenom Yoan Moncada, pitcher Michael Kopech, and a couple of other prospects to the White Sox for Chris Sale. After bringing in Rick Porcello two years prior, David Price last year, this was now the third straight offseason in which the Red Sox acquired an ace pitcher. Some could argue that blowing up the farm system wasn’t a good move, but there’s no disputing Sale’s talent, and he’s done more than enough to prove that in the short time he’s been here.
Spring training is a great time for baseball; the weather in Florida and Arizona is beautiful, baseball is finally back, and for the most part, it’s a relaxed environment from a competitive standpoint. However, there is no such thing as non competitive baseball for Chris Sale. As a matter of fact, when asked if he was happy with his spring training debut, he answered “Happy? I don’t know. I got some good work in. I’m not a fan of sitting here and saying spring training doesn’t matter. You still want to get results.” In just his second start this spring, he failed to cover first base on an infield hit. He proceeded to hit himself in the head with the baseball in frustration. It is evident that Sale is going to bring the exact attitude this suspect Red Sox pitching staff had lacked for multiple years.
On a cold night in Sale’s regular season debut, he had about as good of a game as anyone could’ve asked for. He went 7 strong innings, giving up no runs on 3 hits. He has now followed that up with three more 7+ inning starts, for a total innings pitched of 29.2 and 42 strikeouts, to go with 3 earned runs. Unfortunately, his record is only 1-1 (we can give the Red Sox lineup credit for that). While he’s been on the mound in these 4 games, the Sox have put an embarrassing 4 total runs on the scoreboard. To give some perspective of what a true “Ace” is, let’s compare that to Price’s start to the season last year. Through the same 4 games, Price went 21.2 innings, he struck out 32, and gave up 17 earned runs. Eight less innings, ten less strikeouts, and 14 more earned runs. With that said, Price has plenty of time to fix his first impression with Boston and show some improvement when he gets back. On the other hand, Sale has made an unreal first impression on Boston. The future looks promising for the ace, look for more success to come from him.