Patrick McDermott/USA Today Sports

Chris Sale: 'I'm throwing until my arm falls off'

October 04, 2017 - 5:58 pm

HOUSTON -- There weren't a lot of unknowns when it came to Chris Sale coming to the Red Sox this season. But we're about to see one Thursday afternoon.

When the Sox starter takes the mound for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, it will mark the first time Sale takes the mound for a postseason game. What is waiting for the lefty is a mystery, even for him.

"We talked about it like throughout the year and stuff like that, but haven't really had a sit-down conversation," said Sale regarding the impending postseason experience. "For me, just it's going to be hard not to but try not to put too much emphasis on it. Just try to treat this just like another game. You get a little amped up sometimes and that can kind of go crazy. So I'm going to just try to go out there and pitch my game and act like this is just another one along the way."

But as Sale's media availability unfolded prior to the Red Sox' workout, it became clear that it was going to difficult for the 27-year-old to "act ike this is just another one along the way." An example was when how he feels about powering through the postseason after pitching 214 1/3 innings and throwing 3,428 pitches (3 shy of his career high).

"I did have extended rest this time, which I think is good obviously this time of year," said Sale, who hasn't pitched since last Thursday. "Catch your breath, get your feet underneath you. I threw a little bit more intensified bullpen this past week than I usually do to kind of get prepared, sharpen up a little bit. Three days' rest, I'm in. This is what I live for. I'm throwing until my arm falls off."

Then came the question about if he was going to treat the whole deal any different, and once again the pitcher did his best to try and reel in the heart-rate.

"I don't want to put any more emphasis on this than there already is," Sale said. "This is obviously playoff baseball so it comes with a lot more attention. But for me I'm going to pitch the same game, I'm going to go out there and do the same things I've always done. I'm not going to reach for another avenue that I haven't reached for in my entire career. So I don't think now would be the time to start doing that."

It's certainly no lock that Sale's performance will translate into postseason success. There are the examples of Clayton Kershaw (4.55 ERA in 14 starts) or David Price (5.54 ERA in nine starts). And then there are pitchers like the one the Red Sox will face Thursday, Houston's Justin Verlander. Go back to the last time the Sox faced the right in the playoffs, 2013, and you will find a pitcher who allowed one run (a Mike Napoli homer) in 23 playoff innings.

"I definitely think there is some value in it," Verlander said of postseason experience. "I think just more along the lines of knowing what to expect. I don't think it's going to help calming my nerves or give me an edge in that way, but knowing what I'm going to deal with, going into the start, how I'm going to feel during the start, how much more emphasis and stress is put on every single pitch, knowing those things I think helps prepare me better."