Shane McClanahan, Have the Rays found the next Chris Sale?
By Kasey Kuhrts
Shane McClanahan made his second start of the 2021 season Tuesday night in Anaheim. It was very similar to his first.
McClanahan once again went four innings, striking out five hitters, on nearly the same amount of pitches. He threw 63 pitches Tuesday night, and 59 in his first start back on April 29th.
However, his hits and runs allowed were much different. Last night McClanahan blanked the Angels through four innings and only allowed two hits. Back on April 29th, McClanahan allowed two runs on five hits, still not bad.
The Tampa Bay Rays went on to win last night 8-3, their third win in a row.
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During the game last night, I tweeted this:
I tweeted this because when I watch Shane McClanahan pitch I feel like I’m watching prime Chris Sale.
For me, the comparison starts in the delivery. Although Sale’s delivery has more moving parts, the leg-kick up-and-out looks similar to Shane’s.
From there, early Sale sat 96-99 MPH with his fastball, which is exactly where we see McClanahan right now. Shane can run it up over 100 MPH, but he mostly sits in that 96-99 MPH range.
Another big similarity between Sale and McClanahan is the second pitch. Both guys feature a nasty slider, but they are both crafted in different ways.
Sale’s slider is a big, slow sweeper, sitting anywhere from 78-82 MPH. Sale was incredible at starting the pitch outside the strike zone, and letting it break all the way through the zone, and back out.
When you go from 97 MPH to 80 MPH with multiple feet of break, it’s nearly impossible to hit.
However, Shane McClanahan takes a different approach with his slider.
What we’ve seen in Shane’s first two starts is a slider sitting low 90’s with late break. In the batter’s box, it looks like a heater, until the last second when the bottom falls out, and it’s too late. Just ask “The Machine.”
Still don’t buy into the comparison? How about this, Sale’s first season in the MLB was 2010. In that season Sale only pitched in 21 games, all out of the pen, and threw a total of 109 sliders. His whiff% on those pitches was 55.6%.
Now, let’s look at Shane McClanahan.
He’s thrown 56 sliders so far in 2021, and his whiff%, 58.1%.
Now yes, this is a small sample size but in his career, Chris Sale has never had a whiff% lower than 35.7% on his slider. Now, time will tell if that will be the same with Shane McClanahan, so I guess we just have to wait and see.
The last comparison between Chris Sale and Shane McClanahan comes from college.
Both Shane and Chris attended four-year universities in Florida, but neither attended power-five schools like Florida State, Florida, or Miami.
Chris Sale pitched for Florida Gulf Coast University from 2008-2010 and racked up the achievements. Shane McClanahan pitched the University of South Florida from 2017-2018 and did the same.
Sale won the 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, along with being named to the Rawlings NCAA All-American 1st team.
Shane McClanahan was a 2017 Baseball America First Team Freshman All-American as well as a 2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings College First Team Freshman All-American, both high honors.
I can’t be the only one who sees this comparison, right? Two Florida-born highly-touted small-school lefties who turned themselves into first-round MLB Draft selections, I mean come on.
So, if you see the comparison, or not, I present you with this.
If I told you Shane McClanahan would have Chris Sale’s career right now, would you take it?
Or would you let his career play out and see what happens? Let me know what you think on Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment on this post!