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Chris Sale's IP

An interesting note from Jonah Keri's weekly MLB team rankings, focusing on the White Sox's Chris Sale: 7. Chicago White Sox, 33-27 (291 RS, RS 256 RA) (last week: 6) When it comes to innings limits, Washington's plan to restrict Strasburg to 160 has garnered most of the attention. But what the White Sox do with their own 23-year-old ace could play as big a role in deciding a division title. Chris Sale hurled eight shutout innings Saturday, giving him the following line in his past five starts: 36⅔ IP, 19 H, 4 R, 7 BB, 43 K, 5-0, 0.98 ERA. Taking a starter that productive and shunting him to the bullpen, in any role, would usually be a colossal waste of talent. Except for one problem, in this case: With his most recent start, Sale surpassed his innings total for all of 2012. The Sox have 102 games left to play, meaning 20 more scheduled starts for Sale. So what to do now? The team could elect to skip a Sale start here or there, but each one he misses lowers their chance of winning, and you can only skip so many before your rotation and bullpen start to become taxed. Setting a hard innings limit is also an option, though if the White Sox make the playoffs they'd surely miss having Sale take the ball against the league's top sluggers. They could move Sale to closer (or another bullpen role) as threatened, reducing his workload and operating under the some-Sale-is-better-than-no-Sale premise. Or they could simply keep sending him out there, let him throw three times as many innings as he did in 2011, and see what happens. Put it this way: Neither Robin Ventura nor Don Cooper or anyone else in the White Sox front office … really no one except this guy is doing backflips over the pending Sale decision.

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