Alex Cora via OMF details what's going wrong with Chris Sale, key to fixing it

Ryan Hannable
April 11, 2019 - 3:53 pm

Chris Sale has not looked right through his three starts this season.

The left-hander has made it into the fifth inning just once and is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA. Sale's velocity has also been down, but part of that is because he was sick going into his second start in Oakland.

Appearing on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Thursday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora detailed his struggles and noted his off-speed pitch is the most important pitch he needs to get back.

“We don’t want the velocity to be down, down," he said. "We understand the process and last year if you look at his velocity before the Texas start when all over a sudden he was throwing 97-98, he was around 92-93, some 94, not 97. We haven’t seen that. Well, he did the last inning, he decided 95. He didn’t like the fact they were running on him, and they stole the plate, he was like, ‘OK, here we go.’ The one in Oakland, that is what happened. Chris is a guy who doesn’t like to talk about what happens with him (being sick). I was protecting him. That’s my job. 

“The last one, I do feel the off-speed pitch is not there. The slider is not there. You can see it. It has been inconsistent through the three starts. In Oakland, he used the changeup a lot and got a lot of fly balls and he survived for six innings. What a way to survive, one run in six innings. The last one here, he made some good pitches down and in to righties, but all the singles were like up and away. He didn’t get crushed. He didn’t get hit hard. … It wasn’t a home run thing, but if you look at the whole thing, velocity was a little better — 91, 92, a few 95s, — but the slider hasn’t been consistent. When he gets that slider, that is when he becomes the pitcher that he knows he can become. Everybody talks about velocity, I do feel it is more about the off-speed stuff because that slider is one of the best in the game when he’s right.”

Overall, Cora isn't concerned because of the type of player and teammate Sale is.

“He’s been fighting his delivery in the three starts," he said. "That’s out there. He needs to get back to it. We talk. He just walked in and we talked a little bit. We actually talked a little bit after the game the other day. Mr. (John) Henry and Dave (Dombrowski), they were in my office and we gave him the ring. He was like, ‘At least I have something positive for the house.’ The thing with Chris is he’s very accountable and very transparent. He will tell you when he’s good and he’ll tell his teammates they did an outstanding job and when he isn’t good he takes the blame. That is what you want from a teammate and from your players.”