Cy Young Award for Chris Sale?

After losing their longtime ace Mark Buehrle in the off-season to free agency, it did not take the Chicago White Sox long to find their new star pitcher.  At 23 years old, Chris Sale is in his second full season in the big leagues and has shined on the South Side of Chicago.

Drafted in 2010 as the 13th overall pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University, Sale has certainly lived up to the hype and much more. Enjoying a year as a starting pitcher in the Sox’s rotation, Sale’s name has come up time and time again as a legitimate contender for the American League Cy Young award.  The Cy Young award, considered to be one of the most prestigious in all of Major League Baseball, is the award reserved for the most outstanding pitcher in their respective league.

While Chicago’s media has been buzzing about Sale’s dominating year and chances of winning a Cy Young, Sale himself has demonstrated a great amount of maturity in the matter.

Consistently waiving off all hype and questions about the award, Sale has made it clear his goals are not aimed towards personal awards or accomplishments. The kid just want to see his team win, and whatever he can do to help them win is more than enough.

The competitive southpaw says all the right things and demonstrates the best attributes of a good teammate, but some small part of him must yearn for one of baseball’s highest honors.

Sale certainly has the talent as well as the numbers to back his Cy Young candidacy. Despite taking the loss in a tight 3-0 game in his most recent start in Kansas City, Sale still ranks high in every pitching category that matters. As of Sept. 20, a 17-7 record for a first-year starter is impressive, and only David Price and Jered Weaver have more wins in the American League at 18 each (Sale is tied with Texas’ Matt Harrison with 17 wins of his own).

Sale is now fourth in the league in Earned Run Average (ERA) behind only the two aforementioned pitchers as well as reigning CY Young and American League MVP winner Justin Verlander. Not bad company. 

Sale is also tied for sixth in the league in strikeouts and fourth in winning percentage. Put all of these numbers together, plus the fact that the Sox have limited his innings to protect his unproven and young army from any injury, and it makes Sale an easy pitcher to start talking about as one of the best in baseball.

Coming out of the Sox’s bullpen last year, Sale established himself as a legitimate closer and shutdown lefty out of the pen. The tall and lanky Sale stands at six feet six inches and weighs 180 pounds. But don’t let the slender frame fool you – the Florida native can throw in the upper 90s and creates all kinds of angles and movement on the baseball with an unorthodox delivery that has been leaving hitters scratching their heads since he entered the league.

Sale, having been a starting pitcher his whole life, and a brilliant one in college, wanted to be more than a closer. The Sox wanted to give it a try too, and boy did it pay off.

 Chicago has not had a Cy Young winner since Jack McDowell won it in 1993 while playing for the White Sox. Sale’s win would bring the award back to the city of Chicago.

The Chicago baseball fans know they have a solid Cy Young candidate for the Baseball Writers Association to consider, and they are excited at the prospect. Yet the Sox and their fans know his competition is fierce, and it could be anyone’s race with just a few more starts to go. The award could very well be won in the last few days of the season.

Despite an array of great pitchers being considered for the Cy Young, Sale has one thing over all of his competition: David Price, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander are all outstanding pitchers with stuff just as good as Sale’s, and are his main competition; however, none of these pitchers’ teams are currently scheduled to play in this year’s postseason.

Only the Chicago White Sox have thus far earned themselves a spot in the postseason, with the 23-year-old starting for a rotation that has veteran Jake Peavy, himself a former Cy Young award winner. A pitcher’s team making the playoffs is widely considered a major factor in determining the success of that pitcher, and if the Sox can hang on to win the American League Central, Sale will have his case made for his win.

While there are still games to be played as the season winds down, Sale has earned the respect and admiration of baseball fans, but more importantly, he has made an impression with the baseball writers who will ultimately vote on the award. Sale has two more scheduled starts this season, both of which will be crucial down the home stretch as the White Sox try to fend off the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central title, and a birth into the postseason. Both starts will also be Sale’s last attempt to prove that he is worthy of going down in the history books as the best pitcher in the American League in 2012.