After only winning only two games in last ten matchups, the Red Sox are officially cold. However, the savior is on the way. Chris Sale is ready to make his return to Major League Baseball. The left-handed pitching ace is ready to make his long-awaited return to the mound on Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles. It’s been almost two full years since Sale last pitched. After a long recovery from Tommy John surgery, he says he feels good and is ready to go and just in time. The pitching has been subpar across the board recently and could use a kick in the behind. A fiery guy like Sale is a good way to lead the pitching staff on the field and in the clubhouse. Sales presence in the locker room is not to be understated.
It was expected that when Sale made his return it would be out of the bullpen. Give him a few relief appearances before maybe working him back into the rotation. Not this team, however. It would seem they are going to throw him to the wolves. A veteran like Sale definitely wants it this way but recent play could have impacted the Red Sox decision immediately slot him into the rotation rather than a long relief role. It is still unknown if he’ll have extra time in between starts or if he’ll have limited pitch counts. We’ll just have to wait and see.
It difficult to predict how any pitcher will come back from such major surgery. Some guys are never the same, some return like they never left, others must reinvent themselves to come back. Sale made five rehab starts to prepare him for his comeback. He made three with AA Lowell Spinner and 2 with AAA Worcester Red Sox. In his five minor league starts Sale went a total of 20 innings with an Earned Run Average of 1.35, 35 strikeouts and only five walks. If you can’t tell, that’s dominant. After a minor surgery like Tommy John, it’s about whether his arm can hold up. His velocity on his fastball was consistently in the low to mid 90’s. Consistency is good even if he may have lost a few ticks on his fastball. With each game Sale was able to throw more and more. He threw 39, 43, 64, 81, and 89 pitches in his respective starts. Very promising for a starting rotation right now that is struggling to have a guy go past the 5th inning.
Boston is struggling to get it going right now, but help is on the way. Chris Sale is coming back, and it is looking like he could be put in position to lead this starting rotation the rest of the way. With his tenacity and veteran experience, the Red Sox might be leaning on his arm heavily down the stretch. Time will tell if Sale is ready and still got the fire power. His rehab starts were a great indication that Chris Sale is ready to lead this team into October Baseball.