The Red Sox announced Sale tallied his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season during Wednesday's start against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park. According to the announcement, the southpaw became the first AL pitcher to accomplish the task since Pedro Martinez did it in 1999.
Boston traded for Sale during the offseason and sent the Chicago White Sox a package of prospects that included Yoan Moncada. While the team gave up plenty in the trade, Sale has delivered as an AL Cy Young candidate and stabilizing force in a rotation that otherwise has some questions entering the stretch run and the postseason.
The six-time All-Star entered Wednesday's contest with a 2.86 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 287 strikeouts in 201.1 innings and then bolstered his standing in the Cy Young race by holding the Orioles to just four hits in eight shutout innings on the way to Boston's 9-0 victory.
Sale's performance on the mound this season has helped the Red Sox overcome 2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello's regression. He has a 4.46 ERA and 1.38 WHIP after tallying a 3.15 ERA and 1.01 WHIP last season. What's more, Boston has used David Price in the bullpen, and he isn't a reliable October option considering his 5.54 career postseason ERA.
Even with those concerns, the Red Sox are threats to win the World Series in large part because of Sale's presence.
He can theoretically start at least two games in each playoff series, giving Boston a golden opportunity to jump out to early leads and establish momentum in the race to the Fall Classic. He will also strike out plenty of hitters along the way after becoming the first AL pitcher to strike out 300 in a season in nearly 20 years.