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And to think the Sox wanted him to close.
The 23-year-old fought that decision and was victorious. His owners are likely winning, as well, given the left-hander's 2.27 ERA, 8.87 K/9 and 2.27 BB/9 at a mixed middle- or late-rounds price. It's been nearly a seamless transition from relief to starting rubber. He traded a tick off his four-seam giddy-up, which is still top-notch, and desire for punchouts for more control, two-seam fastballs and changeups.
The AL's ERA leader and answer to Stephen Strasburg faces a similar issue to that of his doppelganger, though. The 'pen-to-rotation conversion is a sore subject for his innings total. Last year he threw just 71 frames in his old role; he's at 95 1/3 already.
Chicago doesn't plan on "artificially" capping his pitch tallies or frames. They'll give him a day off here and there and monitor any balkiness, especially after his early-season elbow scare and the fact he's a slider-heavy arm. He's made seven appearances on at least five days' rest, so they're already on the preservation track.
One reason Chicago might start waning a bit on riding his arm: Seven of his 15 starts this year have gone seven or more frames. Maybe they'll backtrack on their assertion and remove him a little earlier. He's efficient, though, averaging a reasonable 15.5 tosses per frame, so it's not like he's laboring. The Pale Hose, for now, sit atop the AL Central. They'll want him available for the whole season. They're typically an aggressive franchise in such matters.
Regardless of the plan Chicago runs with, Sale's long-term stock is a hot-button point, especially since his next start will carve his name into the 2013 Verducci Effect list with three months left in the season. For this season, however, performance is less of a concern; his peripherals justify him continuing this pace. He's damn good.
Any desire to sell the ace high comes from the hint of injury and fatigue risk he presents, considering his workload increase and May arm troubles. You have a right to be cognizant of these dilemmas, yet you also have just cause to hold. The status of the rest of your team may determine your course of action, but as long as he's upright, staying put will remain an enjoyable ride.
The suddenly scuffling Birds have recently been dealing with a mix of Endy Chavez (hamstring), Steven Pearce, Steven Tolleson and Ryan Flaherty in left field. Nolan Reimold (neck surgery) might be done for the year.
Avery could run away with the 7 picture if he shows any semblance of his four-steal, nine-run stretch with Baltimore earlier. His BA won't be an asset, but he walks plenty, and the playing-time door is open, even with Chavez on a rehab assignment. Steals fliers always deserve attention.
10-tm mixed: Pass
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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