I think it is safe to say that Chris Sale has pitched his last game in a Chicago White Sox uniform.
The Chisox suspended the lanky left-hander for five days following a clubhouse incident yesterday where he cut up throwback jerseys from 1976 rendering them unwearable for yesterday’s game against the Detroit Tigers which Sale had been scheduled to start. Instead, Sale was sent home and reliever Matt Albers made the emergency start. (The Chisox won the game 4-3 although the win didn’t come until this afternoon after the game was suspended due to weather).
Sale ostensibly objected to the collars on the ’76 uniforms and the dark colors which made him uncomfortable in the humidity. (Well, I suppose Sale can be grateful he wasn’t required to wear short shorts.) But I don’t think the uniforms are what got him hot under the collar. Sale was vocally angry during spring training about Adam LaRoche’s son Drake being banned from the clubhouse (which prompted LaRoche’s abrupt retirement) and his personal catcher Tyler Flowers not being brought back to the club.
The incidents appeared to have lit a fire under the Chisox. They went 18-8 in April and reached a high water mark of 23-10 in early May with a 6 game lead in the AL Central. But since May 9th, the team is 24-40. The White Sox are in fourth place in the AL Central, 9 games back of the Cleveland Indians. They would be much worse if not for Sale who is arguably the best pitcher in the AL, if not all of MLB. Sale, of course, was the AL starting pitcher in the All-Star Game earlier this month. He is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts this season. Since making his debut in 2010, Sale is 71-43 with a 2.95 ERA with 1140 strikeouts in 1016 1/3 innings pitched.
At 27, Sale is just entering the peak of his career. But it’s probably best for both parties if he parts ways with Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura. The trade deadline is a week away and I would be shocked if Sale is still in a White Sox uniform (at least one he won’t tear up). The Los Angeles Dodgers need an ace with Clayton Kershaw hurt. Ditto for the Mets with Matt Harvey out for the rest of the year. The Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox are interested and don’t count out the Baltimore Orioles or the Toronto Blue Jays either. Whoever Sale is traded to will give the Chisox a boatload of top prospects. It’s a win-win. That is as long Sale doesn’t cut up any more uniforms.