Sale, Lester earn Pitcher of Month nod for June
A pair of celebrated southpaws added more hardware Monday, as Major League Baseball announced Red Sox ace Chris Sale and Cubs ace Jonathan Lester as the American and National League's Pitchers of the Month for June.
It's Sale's third time claiming the Junior Circuit's Pitcher of the Month honor, following his selections in May 2012 and June 2015 during his tenure with the White Sox. Lester, meanwhile, takes home his sixth Pitcher of the Month Award after previously winning twice in '08, once in '10 and twice more in '16.
The Red Sox have had little margin for error in their dizzying AL East arms race with the Yankees, and Sale has fearlessly helped them match the Pinstripes stride for stride thus far. The lanky lefty was stifling in June, recording a 1.76 ERA and striking out nearly 39 percent of the batters he faced while permitting just one home run over 41 innings.
Boston's ace went at least six innings in each of his six starts last month, tallying double-digit strikeouts in four of them and allowing two runs or fewer in all but one. Sale's month crested in his final start Saturday, when he became the first Red Sox pitcher since Ray Culp in 1968 to hold the Yankees scoreless on one hit or fewer while striking out at least 11 batters over seven innings.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora summed it up well after that vintage performance in the Bronx, stating Sale "looks like the best pitcher in the big leagues right now."
Lester, meanwhile, continues to show no signs of slowing down at age 34. Chicago's veteran lefty helped the Cubs keep pace with the Brewers, as he went 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA and just 27 combined hits and walks allowed over 32 innings. Lester held his opponents scoreless in three of his five outings, and he did not permit more than five hits in any of his trips to the mound last month.
Now in his 13th big league season and with more than 2,000 innings on his left arm, Lester leads the Cubs' rotation with a 2.25 ERA.