CHICAGO -- Chris Sale stands as a better pitcher presently than the talented version of the southpaw beginning his first year in the starting rotation back in April.
That change is as much about knowledge concerning his craft as it is about the development of his overall repertoire.
"Just control, I have to say," said Sale, when asked for the biggest difference between his 13-3 record and 2.59 ERA now and April. And he wasn't talking about pitch location.
"Every pitch isn't being thrown at 120 percent. I'm not trying to throw it by guys. It's more trying to trick guys now than it is trying to power through guys.
"I don't know how many times out of the bullpen, I would be in for 20 or 23 pitches and just kind of get in the strikeout mode and try to strike everyone out. Now it's where I'm like, 'Hit one of these first three so I can get out of here under 15 pitches, at 10, 11 or 12.' Those are better than having three strikeouts and looking up at 25 pitches for an inning."
Sale understands that his fastball doesn't possess the velocity it did out of the bullpen and even acknowledges his slider isn't quite as sharp as when he worked in relief. But adding a third pitch in the changeup has been a great help to his cause.
Even making a move from the bullpen as a reliever to the dugout as a starter during games has helped sharpen Sale's pitching mind.
"You see how things play out and you are right there," Sale said. "You watch [Jake] Peavy go out there and pitch and see what he does. You watch Gavin [Floyd], and what they do to get out of jams.
"It's all in front of you. Obviously, out in the bullpen you might not be able to see location or what sort of swing the guy puts on a certain pitch or whatnot.
"Being competitive, honestly, is I think the biggest part of being a pitcher," Sale said. "If you go out there and you expect to do well, things will happen a little bit better than if you go out on a hope and a prayer. You got 24 other guys expecting to win a ballgame, and you still have to go out there and fight."