DETROIT: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the seventh inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 4-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
There's an epidemic! A baseball epidemic!
Fortunately, this epidemic is probably a good thing.
See, teams are taking really talented pitchers who have been throwing 60 innings and asking them to throw 200 innings instead. Which is almost always a good thing.
Here's just the latest (proposed) example:
This is happening more often lately, isn't it? Last season, the Rangers transformed set-up man Alexi Ogando into a starting pitcher, with great results.
Next season, set-up man Chris Sale might be a starting pitcher. Reportedly, the the Kansas City Royals will ask set-up man Aaron Crow to earn a job in their rotation next season.
Often, the way it goes is this: Young pitcher arrives in the majors as a starter. Young pitcher struggles. Young pitcher is exiled to bullpen. Young pitcher excels as reliever. Young pitcher never starts again, and someday becomes Old Reliever.
Which is perfectly appropriate, for some Young Pitchers.
But for some, it's not. And it's really hard to know for sure, without checking.
Chris Sale started in college, and was the 13th pick in the 2010 draft. He hasn't started a game since then, in the minors or in the majors. He's not been brilliant as a reliever, but he's been good enough to merit a shot at 200 percent more innings than he's been pitching.
Last season, the White Sox didn't need Chris Sale to start; for a big chunk of the season, they actually deployed a six-man rotation. But now they need a starter, and so perhaps we shouldn't give the Sox too much credit for making the obvious move. Or to the Royals for doing the same.
Still, this is welcome news. The universe is a better place when a man's role matches his abilities.