Chris Sale’s high praise proves Braves’ culture is fueling his comeback

Atlanta's southpaw is proving to be one of the best off-season acquisitions in baseball.
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves weren't sure what they would get from Chris Sale when they traded Vaughn Grissom to Boston this offseason. Sure, they hoped he'd return to his former self, but it wasn't guaranteed.

However, Sale has been incredible for the Braves starting rotation through the season's first month and a half. Along with Reynaldo Lopez, Sale has been one of the biggest surprises of the Braves starting rotation. Sale specifically looks like the dominant lefty starter everyone in baseball feared a few years ago.

After yet another impressive seven-inning performance, this time against the Cubs, Sale is now 6-1 with a 2.54 ERA (2.42 FIP) through 49.2 innings. He has eight walks and 61 strikeouts which is good for a 1.4 BB/9 and 11.1 K/9.

He is 5-0 with a 1.36 ERA over his past five starts and has 41 strikeouts with just 3 walks in 32 innings. For the season, he carries a 7.63 strikeout-to-walks ratio which is the second-best among NL qualifiers.

What is fueling this resurgence for the southpaw?

Chris Sale’s high praise proves Braves’ culture is fueling his comeback

Sale already mentioned that he finally had a healthy and full Spring to prepare for the season. Injuries and setbacks plagued him for the last couple of years.

However, not only is he healthy, he is also enjoying Atlanta's clubhouse culture. After his nine-strikeout performance on Tuesday night, Sale spoke about his enjoyment of being a part of the Braves organization.

Sale stated, "I can’t stress enough what this clubhouse is like, the energy that’s in there and just the group of guys in there, what everyone brings to the table and just how laid-back it is, honestly. It’s a lot of fun." He also mentioned that it's like playing college baseball in the summertime.

The veteran lefty has been seen as a fierce competitor and not a good teammate in the past due to incidents like when he cut up a jersey when with the White Sox. However, that is not the case as Sale has been described as one of the best teammates one could hope for.

It was also great to hear Sale shout out to the Braves training staff for helping keep him on the field. At the end of his interview, he made sure to let it be known that head trainer George Poulis received his gold card for 25 years in Major League Baseball. That proves he appreciates the Braves making sure he has the best training staff available.

He also made sure to mention how wonderful his coaches have been. And the feeling is mutual between both sides. His teammates and coaches have all expressed how much they've enjoyed having him in the clubhouse.

Braves reliever Pierce Johnson, who is currently on the injured list, mentioned back in April, "His fire on the mound, his intensity. I think it really just feeds over into the hitters, position players, and honestly to the bullpen too. We get fired up for him."

Pierce is right, the team feels confident when he is on the mound and Sale feels the same way. He knows the team is going to give 100% every night just like he is. More importantly, he knows the organization is doing things the right way to ensure everyone can be themselves.

You can tell Sale is having fun not only from his comments but also from a recent game where Jarred Kelenic made an impressive catch to rob a homer. Sale was all smiles on the mound and laughed. It almost felt like it was him saying "I can't believe what I'm experiencing right now."

Those comments show that it is a mutual love between both sides and speaks to the impressive culture Atlanta has built since Alex Anthopoulos took command of the club. Atlanta's clubhouse culture will continue to be discussed for many years to come. It's become one of the best recruiting tools the Braves have.

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