Chris Sale struck out 15 Cubs on Sunday. Can he put together a 300-strikeout season?

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Chris Sale went seven innings, allowed only one hit and two walks, and struck out 15 in Sunday’s 3-1 win against the Cubs. That puts him at 208 strikeouts across 23 starts on the season along with a 3.32 ERA. He’d be in the AL Cy Young conversation if he hadn’t allowed seven runs in back-to-back starts on July 30 and August 4.

Sale is also on pace for 298 strikeouts over 33 starts. A pitcher hasn’t struck out 300 in a season since teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did so for the Diamondbacks in 2002, with 316 and 334, respectively. Sale struck out 10-plus batters in eight consecutive starts between May 23 and June 30, but did so only once since the beginning of July entering Sunday’s start against the Cubs.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has 205 strikeouts across 23 starts, putting him on pace for 294 over 33 starts. Either pitcher, with a strong finish to the regular season, could accomplish the feat.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.