Though Chris Sale's injury that will push him to the disabled list is of the non-structural variety (that is to say, shoulder/elbow/hip/knee), there has always been a persistent, nagging belief in the backs of the minds of front office staffs, medical crews, and moderately-informed fans that have seen him pitch that Chris Sale is doomed to explode at some point.
When you have a delivery as herky-jerky as his, that requires so much work and torque to make a fastball happen, and compound that with the fact that he has, for his career, thrown a slider 28.6% of the time, it's really just a matter of when, not if.
It was a factor that pushed him down the draft board in 2010. It was a factor as to why Chicago used him as a reliever for the first two years of his professional career. And though Sale has proven far too valuable to be relegated to such a minor impact as a bullpen cog, it certainly doesn't decrease the apprehension that each pitch might be his last before he has to undergo some sort of serious procedure.
Fellow SB Nation writer and all-around macho hombre Jeff Zimmerman has collected quite the extensive catalog of research, studies, and articles over at his website Baseball Heat Maps. The data is focused exclusively on injuries and, more directly, how they relate to the possibility of measuring whether or not a pitcher may be prone to injury, or prone to becoming injured.
Chris Sale exhibits more than a few of the tell-tale signs of a guy headed for injury. A lot of sliders? Check. Release point variance as the game wears on? Check. Stressful mechanics? Check. High average velocity? Check.
Not to mention that pitcher injuries have steadily increased over the last fifteen years, but there. I just mentioned it.
Chris Sale is a great pitcher. He has, since 2012, been the 8th-most valuable pitcher in the major leagues. But the things that make him great are the things that are going to put him on the disabled list for an extended period of time somewhere in the future.