Chris Sale’s role on White Sox: Bullpen now, rotation in 2012?

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All the offseason and spring training debate about which role Chris Sale would fill for the White Sox has mostly been forgotten, as he’s remained in the bullpen all season while throwing 51 innings with a 2.81 ERA and 53/19 K/BB ratio.

Not quite as unhittable as he was as a rookie, but Sale has pretty clearly established that he can be a shutdown late-inning option, which is why manager Ozzie Guillen told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he’d like to keep Sale as a reliever.

However, while a role change is unlikely this season Guillen also revealed that general manager Ken Williams still “wants him to be a starter next year.”

Gonzales notes that Sale’s role may depend on whether impending free agent Mark Buehrle leaves the White Sox this offseason, in which case the 22-year-old lefty filling the rotation spot of the departing 32-year-old lefty would seem like an obvious fit. Guillen sounds open to that idea as well, but points out that the White Sox would need to “prepare him in spring training and the offseason” because he’s used Sale for more than 35 pitches just twice all year.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.