In what was his last start of the 2015 season, in an otherwise meaningless game against the Detroit Tigers, Chris Sale broke the Chicago White Sox single season strikeout record with his 270th strikeout of the season, breaking Ed Walsh’s club record which had stood for 107 years. Sale’s 270th strikeout of the season, his third strikeout of the night against Tigers catcher James McCann, puts him among the best in White Sox history. Sale would finish the night with seven strikeouts, giving him 274 strikeouts for the season.
Sale is first in the American League with his 274 strikeouts, trailing only Clayton Kershaw who currently sits at 294 over in the National League, and also leads all eligible starters with a 11.92 K/9. The original White Sox record was set by Walsh in a year in which he threw in 464 innings pitched, compared to the 202 2/3 innings it took Sale to break the record this season.
Independent of the dominance of Kershaw, Sale has set himself apart as the best left-handed pitcher in the American League and second best in all of baseball. Chris Sale finishes the season with a 3.48 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and 2.61 xFIP as well as a 6.2 WAR, good for a second place tie in the American League and fourth in all of baseball. Sale has had not only the best year of his career, but perhaps one of the best seasons in all of the White Sox storied history.
With his dominant performance in 2015, Sale has not only placed himself among the greats of the game today as well as in White Sox history but he has also thrust himself into the Cy Young picture this season. Chris Sale has some tough competition in Dallas Keuchel and David Price,but he still remains a good candidate for the award, despite the struggles of the White Sox as a team this season. Despite trailing in both WAR and ERA, Sale leads the American League in both FIP and xFIP and has a good case for being the Cy Young winner.
Chris Sale is clearly just reaching the prime of his career, as he is still only 26 years old. Sale still has four years left on his contract with the White Sox, although they may choose to trade him for the right price. Sale has consistently had to live in the shadow of Clayton Kershaw over the last several years, vying for the position as the most dominant left-handed starter in baseball. With his season in 2015, even with poor performance by the White Sox as a team, Sale has solidified his position as one of the top-five best pitchers in all of baseball and perhaps as a viable alternative to Clayton Kershaw as the most dominant lefty in the game today.