The Chicago White Sox always used to thrive on turmoil, and maybe they still do.

Or maybe it’s just that Chris Sale is really this good.

Sale, you might remember, was the face of the White Sox player anger over the Adam LaRoche mess in spring training. He was the one who said club president Kenny Williams “bold-faced lied to” Sox players, as detailed by Bleacher Report colleague Scott Miller.

It got ugly enough that there were columns written in other cities suggesting this would be a great time for one team or another to trade for Sale.

All that happened five weeks ago. It may as well have been five years ago.

Sale is the first major league pitcher to four wins, after dominating the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. The White Sox were the first American League team to 10 wins.

If they were spring training losers (and I know one guy who called them that), the White Sox are April winners. What happens in April is a heck of a lot more important than anything that happens in March.

And what Sale does with his left arm is a heck of a lot more important than whatever comes out of his mouth.

What came out Wednesday, when he spoke with reporters, including Scott Merkin of, was this: “We have a bunch of guys in here willing to do what it takes to win together.”

Back in the old days, in the era that included the White Sox’s 2005 World Series title, Williams was the general manager and Ozzie Guillen was the manager, and there was always some crisis on the South Side. Things have been calmer since Rick Hahn took over as GM and since Robin Ventura became the manager—at least until LaRoche‘s sudden retirement this spring.

Things have been calmer, but the White Sox also haven’t won as much. They’re on a run of three straight losing seasons, and they haven’t been able to take advantage of having one of the best starting pitchers in the majors.

Sale has been consistently good since the start of the 2012 season. credits him with a 137 ERA+ over the last four seasons, which translates to 37 percent better than the average pitcher and better than any other American League starter.

Better than David Price, who signed for $217 million last winter. Better than Sonny Gray or Felix Hernandez, and better than Max Scherzer‘s last year in Detroit, the one that got Scherzer a $210 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

The White Sox have had something special with Sale, and they might have something even more special this year. He’s always seemed unhittable, but after the Angels managed two hits in seven innings-plus Wednesday, Sale’s 2016 batting average against stands at an absurd .162.

You can’t hit him, and maybe now you can’t outlast him, because Sale has learned the value of pitching efficiently. His 108 pitches got him into the eighth inning Wednesday, and he now has seven consecutive starts of seven innings or more, dating back to last September.

He’s less focused on strikeouts (only three Wednesday) and more focused on just getting outs.

It’s working. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in either of his last two starts, and his ERA through four starts is 1.80.

All of those starts have been White Sox wins, and while we all understand that wins by themselves can’t define a starting pitcher, having your ace win four straight to start the year is a pretty good way to get your team off to a good start, too.

The White Sox have gotten strong starts from Mat Latos, Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana, too, and they’ve had better-than-expected work from the bullpen. They could be doing better offensively, but a lot of teams in the American League could say that.

They look like the team that had a nice winter, with the addition of Todd Frazier, and not the team that had a bad spring, lowlighted by the LaRoche turmoil and the resulting Sale-Williams spat.

It’s another reminder that we make too much of what happens in March. Either that, or it’s another reminder that a little bit of turmoil on the South Side isn’t always a bad thing.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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