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The unbelievable impact Chris Sale has had on Red Sox pitchers

Ryan Hannable
October 23, 2018 - 9:14 am

Ever since coming to the Red Sox via trade prior to the 2017 season, Chris Sale has been one of the best pitchers in baseball and has given the team an ace it desperately needed.

The left-hander went 17-8 in 2017 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts, and then followed it up with a 12-4 record with a 2.11 ERA over 27 starts this year.

While his biggest impact has come on the mound in games, he’s also affected the rest of the pitching staff just by them observing him on a day-to-day basis.

Speaking to several Red Sox pitchers Monday, it didn’t take long to realize just how much of an impact he’s had in completely different ways depending on who you talk to.

“He has a great work ethic,” Rick Porcello said. “I think I see something in him that I see in some of the great starting pitchers that I have played with and that he just has that non-stop will to compete and will to win. That’s what elevates him to another level. He has the physical ability and mental ability to do it.”

Specific to Porcello, he took up pilates this offseason after seeing it work so well for Sale last year.

“I think I definitely have learned some stuff from his routine — more about his preparation,” he said. “The past couple of years I have been big in the weight room and I have watched his routine and I got into pilates with him in the offseason. A lot more of a flexibility-type program. I feel like that is something that helped me this year because I felt really strong all the way through the entire season. I think that was one thing I picked up from him and it probably helped.”

Just watching him pitch every five days has allowed some of the pitchers to learn a thing or two, especially when it comes to his mentality on the mound.

“Just his determination to take the ball,” Nathan Eovaldi said. “He goes out there and takes the ball and he is awesome in between starts. He is awesome during the game. He is one of the guys that you can always talk to and his stuff is just so nasty. He goes out there and he attacks the hitters. It’s that mentality of just attack, attack, attack.”

Added Joe Kelly: “He’s a completely different pitcher, obviously, but even when he doesn’t have necessarily Chris Sale stuff, he finds a way to compete. He sets the bar so high for himself. If he is going out there with 90 [miles per hour], it is going to look like 100 [miles per hour] because he’s so confident and so aggressive. I think that is one of the coolest things that I have picked up from him. 

“It’s not fake. He could easily give himself an excuse like ‘I don’t feel good. I have been hanging. I didn’t have my best stuff, that is why I got beat.’ But, he will still be pissed off and still be upset because he thinks his 10 percent should be able to beat the hitters’ 100 percent. His 100 percent, he could go out there and throw a complete game and strike out 1,000. I think that is the coolest thing that I have seen him him, when he has literally nothing he thinks he can beat everyone else’s 100 percent.”

For Matt Barnes, he’s learned a lot from watching Sale pitch from the bullpen, but also the way he handles himself over the course of a 162-game season.

“He is one of the best on the planet. You watch the way he goes about his business, the way he attacks hitters, he’s relentless,” he said. “He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, but when he is on the mound, it’s business. To be able to decipher the two and watch the way he goes about attacking hitters and his gameplan is a lot of fun.”

“When you play 162 games it can get very long and very tedious and one of the things I have learned from him is the way he separates being on the mound versus when he’s not on the mound,” Barnes added. “Kind of having separate attitudes, it allows you to not get too caught up in everything. It allows you to take a deep breath and just relax a little bit every once in awhile.”

Sale had a 6.9 WAR to lead all Red Sox pitchers this season, but based on what he’s done for the other pitchers, maybe it should have been even higher than that.

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