It’s a name that has been brought up a lot the past two days and it’s not because Red Sox Nation is reliving watching the best pitcher in the history of baseball over a seven span. That’s right. Pedro Martinez was pitcher of all-time during a seven-year stretch from 1997 – 2003. Take your Sandy Koufax glory years with the Dodgers and shove it. Koufax didn’t pitch in an era where offensive records were being broken consistently like Pedro did. OK, enough about Pedro’s accomplishments for now. We’re starting to hear whispers about whether or not Chris Sale can be comparable to Pedro. Of course, strictly from a production standpoint, the answer is no. Not close. But, the point that’s being raised is Sale going to be a “must watch” like Pedro once was? Well, for right now, maybe. We haven’t seen a pitcher like him in quite some time and his pitching style is refreshing for most baseball fans. He pitches quickly. He isn’t afraid to pitch inside. He throws gas and gets a lot of hitters to look foolish at the plate.
When Pedro pitched it was an event. Fenway Park was electric when he pitched. The crowd stood the entire game when the Red Sox were in the field. The same can be said about Roger Clemens to a lesser extent in his peak years. Make no mistake about it, Chris Sale is great, but he is no Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens.
Let’s take a look at Pedro, Clemens, and Sale in their age 27 seasons.
Pedro Martinez (1999) : 23-4 record, 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts, 0.923 WHIP.
Roger Clemens (1990) : 21-6 record, 1.93 ERA, 209 strikeouts, 1.082 WHIP.
Chris Sale (2016) : 17-10 record, 3.34 ERA, 233 strikeouts, 1.037 WHIP.
With all of this said, let’s not take anything away from Sale here. He’s a great pitcher. He has finished in the top six in the AL Cy Young Voting for the past five seasons and he’s a favorite again this year. Yes, fans are going to be pumped to being going to Fenway when he’s on the mound. Even last night, there was a different type of buzz in the park than there was last year and this was on a 40 degree night. Let’s stop the Pedro talk though.
So, what’s a more reasonable comparison for Sale? If he were to average the below season over the next three years, would you be happy?
16-8 record, 3.71 ERA with a 5-1 postseason record and one World Series title.
These are the numbers for Josh Beckett from 2007 – 2009. Beckett is often forgotten as a Red Sox great pitcher due to how his career with the Red Sox ended. However, his season in 2007 was outstanding and no one in a Red Sox uniform (not even Pedro) had a postseason like Josh Beckett did in 2007. He let up four earned runs in 30 innings pitched.
How about Jon Lester? From 2008 – 2013, Lester averaged 15 wins for the Red Sox with a 3.65 ERA. Similar to Beckett, he carried the team in 2013 playoffs and helped lead the team to a World Series Title. Wouldn’t you be happy is Chris Sale did that?!
If Sale can wedge his way into the Beckett or Lester conversation is these comparisons, then he will be very successful. In addition, if he’s anything close to being the postseason pitcher that these two guys were, then we’re all in for a real treat! But, let’s not expect too much here. Great pitcher, but not an all-time great like others before him.