White Sox pitching coach thinks Chris Sale should remain in bullpen | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

White Sox pitching coach thinks Chris Sale should remain in bullpen

It appears that the Chicago White Sox decision to convert 21-year old Chris Sale into a starting pitcher will be contingent on the health of veteran Jake Peavy entering Spring Training of the 2011 season.

If the decision were up to pitching coach Don Cooper, however, Sale would remain in the White Sox bullpen, where he is best suited to significantly help the team.

Drafted 13th overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft in June, Sale was fast-tracked to the big leagues, needing only 10 1/3 innings of minor leagues experience before making his MLB Debut on Aug. 6 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Sale proved to be the White Sox most reliable arm during the final stretch of the season, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 23 1/3 IP, and collecting 4 saves while filling in for an injured Bobby Jenks.  The young southpaw, whose fastball sits at 95-97 mph, also struck out 32 hitters while walking only 10.

His potential role as a starting pitcher for the White Sox will ultimately depend on Peavy’s recovery after under going season-ending surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder.

Essentially, if Peavy is not ready to go by April, Sale could be used as the team’s fifth starter.  The White Sox could also use Tony Pena — who was the team’s long reliever and made several spot starts towards the end of the season — until Peavy is healthy and able to pitch.  With a rotation that currently includes Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Edwin Jackson, the decision to use Sale as a fifth starter will inevitably be scrutinized due to his strong initial showing in 2010.

In speaking with MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, Cooper stated, “Whatever the organization decides to do with Sale, we’ll go with.  If they say he’s starting, we’ll get him ready to do it. I have no problem with that.”

Even though Coop said that he has no problem with Sale potentially starting for the White Sox in 2011, he has also asserted his belief that the youngster will offer the most value coming out of the bullpen.

“In my mind, Sale and Matt Thornton are two really good lefties I would like to have in the bullpen. I do seem him as a starter long range. I’m just not so sure that range is in April.”

Considering that 2011 will be Sale’s first full professional season, it is likely that the White Sox will limit his innings, which only strengthens the argument for Sale to come out of the bullpen.  The last thing that the organization should do is flip-flop Sale between the starting rotation and the bullpen, as the Yankees have done with Joba Chamberlain. They need to pick one or the other.

It is doubtful that Jenks will be back next season due to the fact that will be eligible for arbitration this off-season, and could command upwards of $9 million if the White Sox attempted to settle. So, why not have Sale close games again in 2011? It would be a logical fit for him: he is outright filthy, will surely have a cap on innings, and has already shown that he can handle the most threatening of situations.

If there is still a desire to convert him into a starting pitcher in 2012, then the organization can take solace in knowing that he will presumably have more of the experience and wisdom that is necessary for a successful transition.

This article was also published on 312 Sports

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