Sale's Cy chances not so darkhorse

CHICAGO -- There is an unwritten rule in baseball that a manager should only air out his struggling team on the day his best pitcher is on the mound.

It gives his tirade the best chance of reaping rewards, of course.

And so it may have been with Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who brought up the American League Cy Young Award race Monday night at the best time to get his teammate some recognition.

White Sox left-hander Chris Sale had just delivered a dominating victory over the Tigers' Max Scherzer when Konerko summed up the night.

"It was nice to give [Sale] a win against a guy who will probably win the Cy Young," Konerko said after the White Sox prevented Scherzer from winning his 20th game of the season.

There are few more careful with their words, so it isn't out of the question that Konerko was merely trying to get the Cy Young conversation started at the best time to benefit Sale.

At first glance, Sale's 11-12 record doesn't hold a candle to Scherzer's 19-3 mark, but recent history (see Felix Hernandez's Cy Young Award season in 2010 with a 13-12 record) has shown that a won-loss mark can be ignored.

It's the internal numbers that tell the better story and Sale has more than a decent case for award recognition.

Sale's current 2.90 ERA is fourth best in the American League behind the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez (2.61),the Rangers' Yu Darvish (2.84) and the A's Bartolo Colon (2.85). Scherzer is seventh, tied with Hernandez at 3.01.

In strikeouts, Sale is third with 207, behind Scherzer (215) and Darvish (246). In WHIP, Scherzer leads the AL at 0.96, while Sale is second at 1.04. Diving even further, Sale has the best quality start percentage in the AL at 0.81, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.05 is only bettered by the Rays' David Price (5.55). Sale’s WAR also leads the AL at 7.1, far ahead of Scherzer's second-place mark of 5.5.

"Chris is better than his record is," manager Robin Ventura said. "On the other side, people are taking shots at Max for a good record having runs scored [for him]. Max is a good pitcher regardless of how many runs they score for him."

But figuring out who is the American League's best pitcher, isn't an argument Ventura wants to enter.

"To take each side and pick it apart is unfair," Ventura said. "Pitchers have to take advantage when runs are scored for them. [Scherzer] has had a great year and is up there in the Cy Young talk and should be. For Chris, it's kind of the opposite. Having gone through the year with him and seeing where he's at with the win-loss record is just as impressive."

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper was also hesitant to enter the Cy Young fray but knows that Sale hasn't done much to hurt himself when it's time for postseason recognition.

"I don't know where Chris compares. I don't sit and dissect the numbers," Cooper said. "I know this: As far as the pitching coach is concerned, he feels he's got a Cy Young type of pitcher out there every five days.

"I remember a year ago, we were talking about, 'Oh I don't know if he's going to be able to do this.' Well, he did. And, 'I don't think he's going to be able to do this again because he pitched so much last year.' Well, we are. And we've got more to go. We're not taking anything for granted."

Sale could end up with three more starts to help improve his case.

"He's certainly a Cy Young candidate for me, that's how I feel about him going out there every five days," said Cooper, who missed games at Baltimore this past weekend with a stomach ailment. "I was thinking on my way to work, I can't wait for five days for him to run out there again, because he's good, and I enjoy watching him. That's one of the reasons I was back [Monday] because I wasn't going to miss that one."