Chris Sale has worked exclusively out of the bullpen through his first two seasons, establishing himself as a top-notch setup man, but White Sox general manager Ken Williams revealed yesterday that the left-hander will be moved into the starting rotation for 2012.
Sale was drafted as a starter and the White Sox have indicated all along that they viewed the rotation as his eventual home, so with Mark Buehrle looking less and less likely to re-sign it makes sense for the switch to happen now.
Sale has a 2.58 ERA, 111/37 K/BB ratio, and .199 opponents’ batting average in 94 career innings as a reliever, so it’s no doubt tempting to leave well enough alone, but Chicago is smart to see if he’s capable of thriving in a 200-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role at age 23.
Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.
Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.
Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat. As Jayson Stark points out, Hernandez joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Adam Kennedy, and Beltre as players to hit three homers in a series clincher.
Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.
No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.