Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: Chris Sale hopes to return to form

Chris Sale has embraced a new opportunity in Atlanta and hopes to regain his Cy Young form.
Atlanta Braves Photo Day
Atlanta Braves Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Back in December 2023, the Atlanta Braves shocked the baseball world by sending youngster Vaughn Grissom to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for veteran starting pitcher, Chris Sale. Many individuals claim that Sale has experienced too many injuries to take a chance on but the Braves saw something they liked and went for it.

One of the biggest reasons why Atlanta added Sale to the rotation is because his expectations will be different. Sale is used to being an ace and having the pressure of leading a pitching staff. With Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Charlie Morton in the mix, Chris Sale is now the fourth starter in the Braves rotation and can pitch a little more freely.

Last year was the first season Sale reached the 100-inning mark since 2019. He attained a 4.30 ERA over 102.2 innings with 29 walks and 125 strikeouts. This will be something the Braves have to keep in mind as they determine how to protect Sale's arm throughout the season.

Chris claims this is the healthiest offseason he's experienced since 2018 and is geared up for the 2024 regular season. So far this spring, he has not allowed a run over 4.2 innings of work, while he's earned 9 strikeouts. He is displaying a fastball that sits between 95 and 97 mph with, of course, his signature devastating slider. Spring Training results do not always translate to the regular season but this is a good sign for Chris Sale so far.

According to ZiPS projections, Sale is expected to go 9-6 with a 3.88 ERA, completing 140 innings. While this does seem very reasonable given Sale’s age and recent injuries, it is just as likely that Sale could perform much better than this.

150 innings is likely more realistic and anything above that would just be icing on the cake. The Braves acquired Sale to give them another veteran arm for the postseason. That is why they'll be careful with his innings through the regular season. If he performs up to his ability, he could be one of Atlanta's best pitchers in 2024.

Sale is going to tell Braves Country what they want to hear right now. Hearing him say he is healthy is something a lot of fans are taking with a grain of salt. Although, Sale doesn't seem like the type to mince words. His high-velocity fastball along with his strong performance on the mound so far could be evidence to back up this claim.

Another factor that could contribute to his success is the fact that Sale has spent his entire career in the American League. There will be a ton of hitters that will be facing Chris Sale for the first time this season, which is a nice advantage for a seven-time All-Star.

Left-handed bats are not going to have a good time facing Sale as they bat just .203 against him. It will also be good for teams to have to get a look at a different lefty delivery and maybe that will help Max Fried to be more effective as well.

Taking in all of these factors, I do not think it is unrealistic for Sale to win 12 or 13 games and post an ERA below 3.50 on the season while racking up a ridiculous amount of strikeouts. The Atlanta Braves are the perfect fit for Chris Sale in 2024, and we expect it to show throughout the season.

More Braves News from House That Hank Built