All Posts By

stephanie khoury

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is the AL MVP, and it isn’t close

By | Chris Sale
August 10 at 2:31 PM
Chris Sale of the Red Sox is setting career highs in strikeout percentage, WHIP, OPS against and ERA. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The race for most valuable player is typically headlined by a position player among the top of the leader board in one or more of the Triple Crown categories (average, home runs and RBI). But every once in a while, a pitcher comes along and throws a wrench into the works. This year, that pitcher is Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox.

Sale is in the midst of a monster season. The 28-year-old ace is setting career highs in strike out percentage (36.5 percent of batters faced, a major league high), WHIP (0.880), OPS against (0.545) and ERA (2.57, lowest in the AL). In fact, his ERA might actually be higher than it should be.

According to FIP, which measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing, Sale’s ERA should be 1.98, the lowest mark compared with the league average since Pedro Martinez had a 1.39 FIP for the Red Sox in 1999.

Sale is buzzing through the league with four pitches in his arsenal — a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider and change-up — with the fastball and slider accounting for 213 of his major league leading 229 strikeoutsthis season. His 15 games with 10 strikeouts or more this year are not only a major league best in 2017, only Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan had more games with double-digit strikeouts than Sale at this point of the season.

Read Full Article »

MLBPAA Honors Byron Buxton with Minnesota Twins Heart and Hustle Award

By | Byron Buxton

Center fielder Byron Buxton winner of Heart and Hustle Award. A speedy outfielder, Buxton is in his third Major League season and is receiving his first career Heart and Hustle Award. The number one ranked prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2014 season, Buxton has proved to be an exciting player since entering the big leagues with the Twins in 2015. The award is being presented by Hall of Famer, 1993 World Series MVP and current Minnesota Twins manager, Paul Molitor. In 21 Major League seasons, Molitor was a seven-time All-Star, collected 3,319 hits and won four Silver Slugger Awards.

Chris Sale earns back-to-back All-Star Game starts

By | Chris Sale

MIAMI (AP) — Chris Sale will become the first pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts representing different teams.

The Boston Red Sox ace will start Tuesday night’s game for the American League, and Washington’s Max Scherzer will open for the National League.

Then with the Chicago White Sox, Sale pitched the first inning of last year’s game at San Diego and allowed a two-out home run to Kris Bryant. Sale was traded in December for top prospects.

Sale will be the 16th pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts, the first since Arizona’s Randy Johnson in 2000-01 and the first in the AL since Toronto’s Dave Stieb in 1983-84. Born in Lakeland, which is about 240 miles northwest of Miami, Sale is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a major league-leading 178 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings.

“All my family lives here. Brothers, sisters, in-laws, parents, even my aunts and uncles and cousins,” Sale said. “So to be able to be here not too far from where I live now is nice. I can have my family, extended family come down and experience this with me.”

“At the end of the day this is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “This is something I’ll be hopefully sitting in a rocking chair when I’m 80 years old telling my grandkids and great-grandkids and things like that.”

Scherzer also will be making his second All-Star start. Then with Detroit, he pitched a perfect inning at New York’s Citi Field in 2013, when Sale followed with a pair of 1-2-3 innings and got the win. Scherzer will be the fifth pitcher to start All-Star Games for both leagues, following Vida Blue, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay and Johnson. Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA and 173 strikeouts.

Sale and Scherzer took turns complimenting each other at Monday’s announcement of the All-Star lineups.

“I love the way Chris goes out and competes. … He’ll do anything to win. He makes big-time pitches all the way — even if he takes 120 pitches. By far he’s been one of my favorite players, pitchers to watch. It’s even better to compete against him,” Scherzer said.

Sale echoed that sentiment.

“I could almost say the same thing. I don’t know if I’ve seen a guy compete as hard as he competes day in and day out,” Sale said. “The fire, the intensity, the role model he can be for kids coming up to kind of take the bull by the horns and just compete. It’s fun.”

Long before they turned pro, Sale and Scherzer both played for the La Crosse Loggers in a summer league in Wisconsin. They were there a couple years apart.

“So that’s pretty interesting too. We’ve had some ties for a while and played against each other for a while, too,” Sale said.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA, is ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game because he started Sunday.

NL manager Joe Maddon’s batting order has Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon leading off, followed by Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton as the designated hitter. Washington right fielder Bryce Harper is third, followed by San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado, Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Miami left fielder Marcell Ozuna and Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart.

Maddon said it was a “pretty easy decision” to slot Stanton as the DH.

“Looking at the breakdown of the team positionally, I thought to draw a DH out of the outfield was smart, or possibly a first baseman, having three outstanding first baseman,” Maddon said. “And furthermore playing here under the circumstances I thought it was the right thing to do.”

AL manager Brad Mills hits Houston second baseman Jose Altuve leadoff, followed by Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, Houston’s George Springer in left, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak, Tampa Bay designated hitter Corey Dickerson, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Boston’s Mookie Betts in center.

Judge tops the majors with 30 home runs and is among the leaders in several other hitting categories. Mills said he wanted to see the rookie bat early — and figured a lot of fans did, too.

“Where was I going to hit him in the lineup? It was a situation you wanted him to hit in the first inning because of the story he’s been all year long,” Mills said.

Sale and Scherzer were set to face big hitters in a homer-filled season.

“I give up my fair share of homers. You can check the book. It happens,” Sale said. “If you let that creep in your mind, it’s going to be a long night. I’m going to do the same thing I always have.”

Scherzer is well aware that home runs are up.

“The way I’ve been looking at it, ball is flying for whatever reason. I really don’t care,” he said. “I’ve given up a lot of homers over the past year and a half.”

“That’s really been something that’s been a thorn in my side. I’ve had to become a better pitcher, locate better. Because of the home run spike, I’ve dialed it in even more to try to make my location better to try to prevent them. I think I have a hand in it, in not letting them hit as many homers out, and that’s made me a better pitcher,” he said.

Mills, Cleveland’s bench coach, took over as AL manager after Indians manager Terry Francona had a procedure last week to correct an irregular heartbeat.

“Getting this responsibility is very humbling,” Mills said. “I’m thrilled to be here. I definitely would love to have him sitting here in this chair.”

Wade Davis named to NL All-Star team

By | Wade Davis

BY , UPDATED AT 07:12PM, JULY 2, 2017

CHICAGO – A sign of the times for the Cubs might have come in the number of spots reserved for their players on the All-Star roster – even though their manager is leading the team in 2017.

After a so-so first half of the season, only one member of the Cubs is headed to the All-Star game in Miami. That’s closer Wade Davis, who will join the rest of the stars at Marlins Park on Tuesday, July 11th.

It’s a drastic change from 2016 when the Cubs were the best team in Major League Baseball at the All-Star break. The Cubs had four infielder starters for the game, outfielder Dexter Fowler and two pitchers make the roster in one of the more impressive showing in franchise history.

But a so-so season means the Cubs won’t have nearly as many as a year ago.

Kris Bryant missed out on a chance to start at third base, getting beat out by the Rockies Nolan Arenado. Anthony Rizzo had the same fate at first base as he was bested in the voting by the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman.

Bryant still has a chance to get in the game via the MLB’s Final Vote ballot. This allows fans to select one of five finalists to make the roster

Acquired in the offseason to replace Aroldis Chapman, Davis has been one of the best closers in the game in his first season in Chicago. He’s 16-for-16 in save opportunities in 2017 and sports a 1.93 ERA with 42 strikeouts.

This is Davis’ third consecutive All-Star appearance with the previous two coming with the Royals.

Indians’ Corey Kluber selected to All-Star Game

By | Corey Kluber

 CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber and reliever Andrew Miller were selected to represent the American League in the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the league announced on ESPN Sunday night.

Kluber and Miller will each make their second consecutive appearances for the American League in the All-Star Game. Along with fellow pitcher Danny Salazar and shortstop Francisco Lindor, Kluber represented the Indians last year, while Miller was a member of the New York Yankees during the 2016 Mid-Summer Classic.

The 2017 MLB All-Star Game will be played Tuesday, July 11 at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.

Over 36 appearances out of the bullpen in his first full year with the Indians after being acquired in a trade with the Yankees last July, Miller has a 3-2 record with two saves and 20 holds, a 1.49 earned run average and a 0.71 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched).

In 42.1 innings of work, the 6-foot-7, 205-pound Miller has registered 65 strikeouts and allowed just 10 walks, 20 hits and seven earned runs.

Off the disabled list for a month after being hampered by a lower back strain, Kluber finished off a strong performance throughout the month of June with a 12-strikeout showing over eight innings of work in a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field Thursday.

The win was Kluber’s fourth in the month of June and marked the sixth straight game in which he went at least six innings. In Kluber’s 12 starts this season, only once has he failed to make it through the sixth inning.

Kluber has struck out 25 batters over his last two starts and registered at least 10 strikeouts in all but one of his six June starts.

Thursday’s win against the Rangers marked the 30th time in Kluber’s career in which he collected 10 or more strikeouts. Kluber’s four straight 10-plus strikeouts performance tied an Indians record set by Hall of Famer Bob Feller during the 1938 and 1939 seasons.

Kluber recently registered his 1,000th career strikeout, and is currently tied with Luis Tiant for the 10th-most strikeouts in Indians history.

In his 30 10-plus strikeout performances, Kluber is 18-0 with a 1.45 earned run average, and the Indians are 54-0 when he gets four or more runs of support, a streak that dates back to June 11, 2013.

On the season, Kluber has struck out 105 hitters against just 20 walks with 60 hits and 27 earned runs allowed over 80.1 innings of work. Despite missing several starts because of the back issues, Kluber has a 7-2 record and 3.02 earned run average, the best of any Indians starting pitcher.

Along with Kluber and Miller, the Indians will be represented by manager Terry Francona, starting third baseman Jose Ramirez, shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Michael Brantley at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game.

© 2017 WKYC-TV

Chris Sale selected to 2017 All-Star Game

By | Chris Sale

TORONTO — Chris Sale making the All-Star team was a foregone conclusion. And with that formality out of the way, we now wait to find out whether he’ll be the American League’s starting pitcher next Tuesday in Miami.

Sale was one of three Red Sox named All-Stars today, and a fourth could join them as a final vote candidate.

Sale, Craig Kimbrel and Mookie Betts were each chosen on the players’ ballot, meaning they were picked by their peers to be among the best in the league. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was one of five chosen for the final vote, an online ballot to fill the last spot on the roster.

“Obviously, being on a new team, being in a new city, makes it a little bit more special, too,” Sale said. “So, I’m excited for it.”

Sale leads the American League in innings, strikeouts and WHIP, and he’s second in ERA and wins. There seems to be a real chance manager Terry Francona could choose Sale as the American League’s starting pitcher and name Kimbrel to be the team’s closer. That decision would come on July 10.

“It would be neat,” Kimbrel said. “I haven’t had that opportunity to get the last out of an All-Star Game. If that opportunity comes, it would be pretty cool, definitely if Chris was starting.”

Said Sale: “I think he’s got a better chance of closing it out than I do starting it, but that would be fun.”

This was the sixth All-Star selection for both Sale and Kimbrel. Sale also started for the American League last season when he was with the White Sox.

“They’ve kind of been our backbone,” Betts said. “Just being part of the All-Star Game in general (is special), but going with those guys is definitely something special.”

This will be the second consecutive All-Star Game for Betts, who started in right field last season but this year fell out of the top three in fan voting. He currently ranks fifth in the league in WAR, according to FanGraphs, behind two outfield starters New York’s Aaron Judge and Houston’s George Springer.

“He’ll be right where he was last year, maybe better,” Bogaerts said. “That’s the type of guy that he is, the type of talent that he has. He can put the team on his back and just ride us into the playoffs.”

If there’s a snub in the Red Sox clubhouse, it might be Jackie Bradley Jr., who got off to a terrible start this season but has been as productive as anyone — including Betts — the past two months. He’s quietly moved into the top 20 in OPS in the American League, while once again playing strong defense in center field.

Bogaerts could also be a snub if he doesn’t win the final vote, or if he’s not ultimately selected as an injury replacement. The Red Sox shortstop ranks ninth in the league in WAR and sixth with a .314 batting average, but he also plays a position that’s especially deep in the American League.

Fans can vote online at to make a final push for Bogaerts to join his teammates in Miami.

“Any time I can go with kind of like my brother, that would be great,” Betts said. “He’s had a great year. He’s done everything right and everything well. Obviously, I want him to come.”

The Day it Became All Worthwhile for Brian Johnson

By | Brian Johnson
Sat, 05/27/2017 – 8:02pm – Rob Bradford,

Chris Sale is throwing hard again, and the results have been historically good

By | Chris Sale
Jeff Passan, MLB columnist, Yahoo Sports

These are crazy times, full of the unknown, particularly for those who want to understand the connection that gave 2017 its most puzzling beast.

Charlie Morton’s fastball didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. The signs, as much as there can be signs for a guy who once sat in the low 90s to start darting his fastball at 99 mph, were there. Morton is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. His Tommy John surgery gave him a fresh elbow. Before he blew out his hamstring last April, he was mixing in a few 95s and 96s. This, though? A sinker sitting 96 and a four-seam fastball resting at 97? Only a nut job would’ve predicted that.

Such is the business of trying to understand fastball velocity. It may not be the single most important piece of quantitative analysis about a pitcher, but it certainly offers the most bang for its buck. Velocity correlates strongly with effectiveness, and while exceptions exist in both directions – hard throwers that stink and soft tossers that shove – a monster fastball remains the sine qua non for an aspiring ace.

Morton is not there yet. His velocity jump is impressive, as is his strikeout rate, and for a Houston Astros team that entered the season needing better starting pitching to complement its bats, gloves and bullpen, its major league-best record is a manifestation of such. And yet in the grand scheme, it takes not a fastball with dueling 9s on the radar gun to evince dominance but merely the run-of-the-mill 95-mph goon that …

1. Chris Sale sics on hitters who don’t know what in the name of all that is holy to do with it. It’s hard enough facing Sale, what with his release point so far to the left it might as well be antifa, his slider biting like oak mites and his changeup poison for righties but sprinkled in liberally among lefties this season, too.

Read Full Article »

Chris Sale a valuable asset even when he’s not pitching

By | Chris Sale

Peter Abraham, Boston Globe, April 19, 2017

Chris Sale and Matt Barnes were among the last players to leave the Red Sox clubhouse after Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Tampa Bay. Sale allowed one run over seven innings before Barnes worked a scoreless eighth inning.

As they rehashed the game, Barnes mentioned that he walked two batters because he was unable to get a good grip on the ball in the windy conditions.

Sale empathized with Barnes and the two sat together for several minutes discussing the game.

It was just a small thing, two pitchers discussing their craft. But it was an example of how a pitcher like Sale can be valuable even when he’s not on the mound.

“He was in the bullpen before he became a starter,” said Barnes. “He gets it. There’s a lot to learn from somebody like that. His mentality is something you want to emulate.”

Get 108 Stitches in your inbox:
Sale’s attitude is similar to the way Jon Lester went about his business, and it’s something the Red Sox have been missing since the ill-fated trade of Lester in 2014.

Like Lester, Sale makes no excuses and accepts only winning. He shows up at the park to work.

Read Full Article »

Veteran catcher Jeff Mathis is what Arizona Diamondbacks needed

By | Jeff Mathis

, azcentral sports, 4:47 p.m. MT, Feb. 26, 2017

Of all the deficiencies the Diamondbacks are said to have had during the last few seasons, a perceived lack of leadership from within the clubhouse might have rang the loudest.

Leave it to a soft-spoken, light-hitting veteran catcher to change all of that.

In signing Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million free-agent contract, the Diamondbacks believe they have a player whose leadership skills are strong enough to measure the hearts of two men.

“I think so,” manager Torey Lovullo said before Sunday’s Cactus League game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields. “There’s a calm and an easiness to his personality. There’s also an intensity and fierceness that he shows between the lines that only we get to know about and we see every day. That’s the combination I’m the most interested in.

“But then you throw in the ability to lead, the winning track record that follows him and his ability to catch. Let’s not forget that. This guy is a really good player. He gets credit for a lot of things outside of being a really good player and we’re looking forward to him showing that to the rest of that clubhouse.”

Read Full Article »