Chris Sale's "Loss" Last Night Shows the Inanity of the Pitcher Record Stat
What if I then told you he was the losing pitcher. Does that change your attitude? It shouldn't, but for some it will, and that's wrong.
Sale was done in by two things out of his control: the defense behind him and his team's lineup. The White Sox lineup is putrid, second to last in the AL in scoring, and despite having to deal with such pitchers as Erik Bedard, Jose Cisnero, Travis Blackley, and Jose Veras, could only plate 1 run on the night. Sale of course had no control over this, but thanks to his offense's incompetence, Sale basically had to be flawless to win the game, a tough task no matter how good a pitcher is or had bad his opponent is.
The Astros were able to get on the board in the 5th, scoring their first run...on a throwing error. MLB.com is not letting me embed, but you can view the play here. It was Ramirez's second error of the inning. One batter later, Jose Altuve hit an infield single to give the Astros a 2-1 lead they did not relinquish.
So despite dominating the Astros all night, Chris Sale gets stuck with an L on the box score. His whole season has been like that. Sale is 3rd in the league in ERA with a 2.74 and is striking out a batter an inning, but sits with a record of just 5-5. This shows everything wrong with evaluating pitchers based on their record. What has Sale done to deserve a .500 record? Nothing. It's a function of the White Sox's poor offense, which Sale has absolutely no control over. It's something to watch as the year goes on, especially at Cy Young voting time. We've seen pitcher records get slowly deemphasized (see: Felix Hernandez's Cy Young), but traditionalism can die hard. It would be unfortunate if Sale kept having a great year, but get shortchanged at voting time due to his record.
I wonder what White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson, Mr. Will to Win, thought about Sale's outing last night.