Yes, Chris Sale missed five weeks earlier in the season with a strained flexor muscle, and he still doesn't have enough starts or innings to qualify on the American League leaderboard.
But with All-Star Game selections coming Sunday, look for the White Sox' ace left-handed starting pitcher to make the AL squad for the third straight year.
Contact information ( * required )
"I believe he should be in the All-Star Game," manager Robin Ventura said after Sale delivered a Fourth of July gem Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. "You do want to win the game because it's important. I'm sure if they want to win, he'd be a guy I'd want."
After Sale pitched his second complete game of the season while striking out 12 and walking none in the Sox' 7-1 win over the Seattle, Mariners shortstop Willie Bloomquist was even more complimentary.
"He's one of the top three or four pitchers in the game," said Bloomquist, who had 2 of the 6 hits Sale allowed. "He's nasty, and he doesn't need help. That was a tough draw. He's as advertised. He's got electric stuff. It doesn't matter if you're right-handed or left-handed, he's got a lot of stuff to get you out with."
Seattle has a serious shortage of right-handed hitters, and that put them at a big disadvantage against Sale, who had limited left-handed hitters to 4 hits in 45 at-bats (.089) coming into the game.
When it was all over, after Dayan Viciedo, Jose Abreu and Paul Konerko homered to spark the Sox' offense, the Mariners' left-handed hitters actually were a somewhat respectable 4-for-21 against Sale.
"Those were the toughest lefty at-bats he has had this year," Ventura said. "They were staying up there, putting them in play. They're tough. Chris had his work cut out for him, and he threw a great game. He was pretty efficient through most of it and gave 1 (run) up at the end. But for a body of work, he did well tonight."
To counter a lineup stacked with lefties, Sale threw more sliders than he has all season.
"I knew warming up in the bullpen it was going to be a pretty good pitch for me tonight," said Sale (8-1, 2.16 ERA). "I was really working on that tonight in the bullpen.
"I threw a few more in my pregame bullpen than I usually do, just because I knew the amount of lefties. It's good to have that."
Sale is just good, no matter what the opposition tries to do.
"He's one of the best in the league," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Listen, left-handed or right-handed, it really doesn't make a difference. Our lefties, for the most part this year, have handled lefties pretty well. This guy was special tonight. He was nasty tonight. It was tough to see early on. He found his groove."
Sale now has seven career games with 12 or more strikeouts, the most in White Sox history.
"I thought he had more (than 12 strikeouts)," Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He throws up to 98 (mph), has a very good changeup, and that slider is pretty devastating when he's feeling good with it. On top of that, when you're throwing strikes with your fastball, they've got to respect multiple pitches.
"You can't really just sit on one pitch or the other. We were starting guys with off-speed, starting them with sliders, finishing with fastballs, throwing sliders the whole time. One inning we threw nothing but changeups to get through the whole inning. We really mixed it up well."