David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Comparing Chris Sale to recent Red Sox aces

Kyle DaLuz
July 24, 2018 - 12:35 pm

So often what Chris Sale does on the mound as the No. 1 starter for the Red Sox gets overlooked.

Just as Tom Brady does for the Patriots and Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins, their greatness often gets taken for granted. Which isn't neccessarily the fault of the viewer. When guys consistenly perform at an elite level, you come to expect it. It becomes the norm.

What Chris Sale has done in his first season and a half with the Red Sox is anything but normal. Through 53 starts with Boston, Sale is 28-12 (winning percentage of .700), touting an earned run average of 2.60 and a 0.933 WHIP, with two starts in the All Star Game on his résumé. The Cy Young runner-up last season, Sale is poised to contend for the award again this season. He's finished no worse than fifth in Cy Young voting in the last five seasons.

In 2018, Sale is sporting career bests in ERA (2.13), WHIP (0.874), strikeouts per nine innings (13.1) and leads the league with 197 strikeouts. His numbers are gaudy and his consistency is something the Red Sox haven't seen since the days of Pedro Martinez.

Does any recent Red Sox aces come close?

Producing Red Sox Review a couple weeks ago for John Ryder after Sale pitched seven scoreless against Texas with 12 strikeouts, callers wondered where Sale ranks among greats Pedro and Roger Clemens. But what about the guys deemed aces over the last decade?

Josh Beckett, who most considered an ace when he was right in Boston, spent five-plus seasons with the Red Sox and was an All-Star in three of them. He should have been the Cy Young award winner in 2007 over CC Sabathia when Beckett led the Red Sox through the postseason to a World Series championship, winning 20 games with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.

Jon Lester was a two-time World Series champ, taking the close out game in Colorado in 2007 and was the much-needed dominant starter on the 2013 team. In nine seasons in Boston, Lester was a three-time All-Star, with a 3.64 ERA and a WHIP of 1.287. He was a true stopper in the postseason, with a 2.18 ERA and a 6-4 record.

Beckett was solid in the postseason with Boston, too, going 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA. 

But neither of the two aces' numbers even come close to Sale's in the regular season. Sale is pitching at an elite, Cy Young-level every fifth day for the Red Sox, something Beckett nor Lester could say about their time in Boston. It's become anything but normal. 

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