South Side Morning 5: Sale forced into a change

1. As nice as it was to see Chris Sale stabilize himself by leaning a bit more on his mid-80s changeup in the later innings, it was more of a forced adjustment than an intentional shift in approach.  His slider was hanging and getting appropriately hammered early, and the approach he used last week in Detroit was going to take him out of the game nigh immediately.

In fact, Sale’s changeup percentage didn’t even rise Tuesday night, he just became more fastball-heavy, and his change-up took a larger percentage of his off-speed options. Sale acknowledged the roughness of the first few innings forced some adjustments to Scott Merkin:

“First couple of innings, I didn’t really feel like I was finishing well with my offspeed pitches, especially. But got that figured out and fastball command got better as the game went on.”

But in general the whole approach remains inscrutable this year. He’s still sitting 92-93 mph with his average velocity for the season, which hardly seems like a problem from a lefty who puts as much two-seamer action on his heat as Sale does, but it’s down 1-2 mph from some other years, so it could be a place to look when we do all the post-mortem on why his peripherals went from God-like to merely very, very, very good.

2. The last thing that should be interesting in a team playing out the string should be the work of a 35-year-old DH who will be a free agent in October, but Justin Morneau hitting .300/.351/.500 in 77 plate appearances after the never-ending wave of injuries and nightmarish concussion symptoms he’s been dealt this decade is heartwarming stuff.

With eight of his 21 hits going for extra bases, despite his not really being able to run, Morneau is looking at his highest ISO since concussions interrupted a would-be MVP season in 2010. It’s too early to think about making room for another aging bat when the Sox have larger goals to sort out, but if they are competing in 2017, they always lack for credible hitters and Morneau should be affordable.

Or, he’s the exactly the type of low-cost professional who could be traded in August for something definitely worth the tiny prorated $1 million investment they made in his recovery.

3. Look at this maniac

He’s running with the pitch, it’s a uniquely deep single, but he scored from first on a single. How many times is that seen in a season? His OBP is terrible right now and he was not going to maintain plus power production all year, but once those things even become average Tim Anderson has so much secondary skill to flaunt.

4. Obviously it’s still rather astounding that Avisail Garcia managed to injure his knee in the on-deck circle, but even more astounding that he might find a way to tease potential that might not be able to be confirmed until more playing time next season.

Playing him two more months is already a grueling idea to most given how prolonged his failures have been, but at least producing for two months would be a significant test of his abilities to maintain his power stroke. But if this injury puts him aside for any length of time, it will call on the Sox to cut the cord right after a stretch where he showed he could bash tape measure home runs in bursts.

The thing is, he’ll always be able to do that, and he’ll always still have massive untapped potential, the Sox just can’t be the team that can only cuts the cord when all traces of a major league player are gone.

5. After being tormented by the absence of his youngest son since the beginning of his MLB career, Jose Abreu‘s separation from now five-year-old Dariel looks to be at an end, as he has secured a five-year visa that will allow him to visit more frequently. Abreu plans to introduce his son to the media this weekend in Miami, which should be a tearjerker affair.

It’s hard to miss the note that Dariel turns six soon.  Dariel was two-years-old when when they were first separated, meaning that his father’s absence has encompassed most of his life.


Lead Image Credit: Denny Medley // USA Today Sports Images

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