Chris Sale: Return of the King

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.

Starting Rotation?

Chris Sale returns

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.

Rehab Domination

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.

The Ace

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.

What will the Red Sox Rotation Look Like Post-Trade Deadline?

The Red Sox have been lucky in the sense that they have only used six starting pitchers all season. With the main starting five being mostly healthy and successful, Tanner Houck was not needed for most of the season. Now with starters Martin Perez and Garret Richards struggling and multiple injuries in the bullpen, Houck’s call-up was a necessity and it should be permanent. While Boston has deployed Houck in a dual-starter/relief role, questions remain what his role will be going forward and on a larger scale, how will the Red Sox rotation look going forward.

Houck the starter or reliever?

Red Sox rotation

Houck’s inclusion as a starter turns the rotation into a six-man staff leaving eight guys in the bullpen. Most would think eight guys would be enough but, the bullpen has not been good in July. Boston’s relievers have a combined 4.70 ERA during the month. An overworked group does not need the extra pressure as is.

On the other hand, having Houck in the rotation would provide the opportunity for deeper starts. It is a rare sight to see the starters to go past the fifth inning. Keeping Houck in the rotation gives each starter an extra day of rest. It would also give the rotation a guy with an ERA of 3.38, which is better than all five starters.

The decision may simply come down to how Houck does today against the Yankees. A successful start and a win may solidify his spot in the rotation. Maybe Cora send Richards to bullpen to figure out his struggles. Regardless, Houck has pitched too well to be sent back down to the minors at this point. With the Red Sox in a tight division race and the bullpen struggling, the team needs a capable arm that isn’t at huge risk of blowing leads.

The Return of Sale

Even if the Red Sox want to go with a six-man rotation, someone will get bumped once Chris Sale returns. Sale has been spectacular in his rehab starts and looks like he will be ready to go once he rejoins the team in a few weeks. It’s likely Houck would be sent to bullpen and be used as a long-reliever who could go 3-4 innings if a starter gets into early trouble.

If Boston wants to go back down to a five-man rotation, there are plenty of choices on who gets moved. Realistically if another guy gets moved to the bullpen it will probably be Richards or Nick Pavetta. There are already two lefty relievers so there is no need to send Eduardo Rodriguez or Perez. Nathan Eovaldi has experience in relief, but he has been the team’s best starter.

There is also the possibility that Boston trades or puts one of the starters on waivers to make room for Sale. However, with the trade deadline looming, the team won’t want to lose any depth in case somebody gets injured.

Big Picture

In all likelihood, Houck will make a few starts then return to bullpen once Sale comes back. Depending on how the bullpen performs, Cora may go with a five-man rotation and send another starter to the bullpen. The good news is Boston will have some flexibility when it comes to these decisions and the staff should be better regardless of the exact makeup of the rotation.

Already Hot, Improving Red Sox Staying on Track

With 60 games now in the books for 2021, it’s clear that the Red Sox overachieving is no fluke. After a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, the improving Red Sox find themselves with the second-best record in the American League and only one and one half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for first place as of June 9th. The rotation has been much more consistent than last year and the offense has improved thanks to some bounce back performances from guys like J.D. Martinez. What should scare the rest of the AL is that for as good as the Red Sox are playing, they are only going to improve even more.

This week Chris Sale started throwing off the mound at Fenway. The lefty threw 25 pitches. He also told the media that he fully plans on pitching in 2021. Best case scenario for Boston, Sale returns to form and they can either roll with a six-man rotation or send E-Rod or Richards to the bullpen. Worst case scenario, Sale struggles and Boston shuts him down early. Even then, Boston would still have five solid starters for the rest of the season.

Chris Sale

On the offensive side, Boston has been looking for a third outfielder to play everyday alongside Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe. Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Danny Santana have all failed to secure that spot, whether due to poor performance or injury. Luckily Boston has a prospect in waiting who has the potential to be an everyday outfield in Jarren Duran.

In 18 games for Worchester, Duran has hit seven home runs to go along with a .278 batting average and .991 OPS. He has also yet to commit an error in the outfield. The 29th ranked prospect according to Baseball America also went 7 for 19 while playing for Team USA this summer. Unless somebody on the roster can hit at a respectable rate, the door may be wide open for Duran to take the spot.

Improving Red Sox Not Done Yet

While a trade is always an option to improve this team, it may be in Boston’s best interest to see what this team can do when fully-loaded. Sale is capable of being a top-5 pitcher in the AL and if Duran can hit .250 with some power, it would be an improvement over what Boston is currently sending out as their third outfielder. Boston could be really scary come late July.

How Will the Red Sox Fair in 2020?

We are one week away from the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. For teams like the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees, that means getting back into the playoffs. As for the Red Sox, they are not looking like postseason contenders, even with a shorter season. How will the Red Sox fair in 2020? Well, right now, the World Series odds for the 2020 Red Sox are actually worse than what they were back in March. This past offseason saw some big names leave the Red Sox organization, with Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, and Mookie Betts and David Price were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rival New York Yankees on the other hand, signed the biggest fish in the free agency pond in Gerrit Cole. 

During the offseason, the Red Sox had to rework their system. With the firing of Davered sox fair Dombrowski in September, they needed a new President of Baseball Operations. Near the end of October, the Red Sox got their guy in Chaim Bloom. Prior to joining Boston, Bloom was the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. Now the Chief Baseball Officer for the Red Sox, Bloom was tasked with trying to get the Red Sox back into the postseason. From trading catcher Sandy Leon, to signing infielder Jose Peraza and pitcher Martin Perez, fans were left scratching their heads. Key players like Rick Porcello and Brock Holt signed with new teams, and the Red Sox did not look the same prior to Spring Training. 

How the Red Sox Fair in 2020 Is a Matter of Chance

In January of 2020, the Red Sox were hit by the Houston Astros cheating scandal, when former manager Alex Cora was named in the report in regards to Houston’s involvement in cheating during the 2017 season. Cora was the bench coach for Houston at the time, and was one of the main people who was involved in the scandal. This lead to Cora resigning from the Red Sox, and left a hole in the manager position with less than a month before Spring Training. Between finding a new manager, and trading Mookie Betts and David Price, the Red Sox seem to be in rebuilding mode. 

While the rest of the American League East has fallen silent, the New York Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. They brought back veteran outfielder Brett Gardner with a one year contract, and signed Gerrit Cole to a massive nine year, $324 million dollar contract. This contract is the richest contract that has ever been given to a Major League Baseball player. Cole finished the 2019 season 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. While he didn’t get a ring with the Houston Astros, he did pretty well in the 2019 season. The new ace of the Yankees is looking to improve upon his 2019 season in 2020. While the Yankees are down one starting pitcher with Luis Severino out with Tommy John surgery, they still have plenty of weapons in their arsenal. 

The Difference Between the Red Sox and the Yankees

With Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, David Price being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chris Sale having Tommy John surgery in April, the Red Sox only have three reliable starters in Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez. Granted, the Red Sox did sign starting pitcher Collin McHugh before COVID-19 shut down the season. However, manager Ron Roenicke stated that McHugh might not be ready for the start of the season.  The Yankees on the other hand, have a full five man rotation, plus a few relievers that can start at a moment’s notice. Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have been scrambling to try and find a few good starting pitchers for the Red Sox, but as of now, there is currently an audition in Boston to see who will be starting this season. While the Red Sox do have a solid starting lineup with JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, pitching, whether it’s from the starting rotation or the bullpen, is what is going to be important in this short season. 

For the Yankees, they too have a solid starting lineup with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit. Over the past few seasons, the big three of the New York Yankees have been a force in their lineup. Catcher Gary Sanchez has been a force in the Yankees lineup since he came onto the scene in 2015. Last season, despite committing fifteen errors as a catcher, he was named the American League All Star for the second time. Sanchez also hit 34 homeruns with 77 RBI’s. His career fielding percentage is .988% in his four seasons so far with the Yankees. Aaron Judge is the big name around the Big Apple, and last season kept crushing it both defensively and offensively. The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019, as well as hit his 100th career home run. In total, he hit .272 with 27 homeruns and 62 RBI’s in the 2019 campaign. Luke Voit, unlike Sanchez and Judge, didn’t start his career with the Yankees. The Yankees acquired him from the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 2018 trade deadline. In 157 games with the Yankees as a first baseman, Voit has 35 homeruns and 95 RBI’s, and he only keeps getting better and better each time he steps up to the plate. 

A few things have been keeping the Yankees apart from the Red Sox over the past few years. The Red Sox have won two World Series Championships since 2010, but the Yankees haven’t won since 2009. The first thing is the Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. The signing of Gerrit Cole this past offseason, as well as the signings of DJ LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton prior to the 2019 season are proof that the Yankees want to add championship number 28 to their circle. In a way, the Yankees keep looking for that new puzzle piece, whereas the Red Sox keep looking to rebuild after winning a championship. 

How Will The Red Sox Fair in 2020?

Will the Red Sox do well in the short 2020 season? Only time can tell that. Right now, it’s not looking good for the nine time World Series Champions. With the schedule being mainly the American and National League East teams, it will be an uphill challenge for the Red Sox, especially with the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals in their schedule. The Yankees on the other hand, are out to win. After losing to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship series last postseason, many on the Yankees are looking to climb over that hurdle and make it into the 2020 World Series. Bringing in Cole to their rotation, and having a healthy lineup and bullpen is what will set them apart from the rest of the teams in the American League East. Many might say to not count the Red Sox out of the race, however, statistics don’t lie, and as of right now, the Red Sox have a mountain to climb. 

There Will Be Baseball in 2020

Baseball fans rejoice, there will be baseball in 2020! After about three months of no baseball, the MLB and the MLBPA have reached an agreement to play in 2020. I know, I didn’t think this day would come, but here we are. Many players are making their way to their respective cities right now in anticipation of the season. July 1st is the official date to start training camp, and from there, we have Opening Day at the end of July. It’s been a crazy year so far, so let the games begin – On July 23rd.

The bad news for fans, however, is that they will not be in the stands at any of the Majorbaseball in 2020 League ballparks in 2020. Yes, that includes Fenway Park. For fans who were looking forward to seeing the Red Sox play at Fenway or at an away game, you’re going to have to either watch it on NESN, or listen to the radio. Due to COVID-19, MLB and other professional sports aren’t allowing spectators at games until further notice.

Baseball in 2020

It’s hard to believe that baseball in 2020 is going to happen, but it is. After what seemed to be a lifetime of negotiations, there will be a season. MLB announced this week that Opening Day will be on July 23rd, with training camps starting July 1st. To make things easy for teams, MLB is setting up the schedule geographically. For the Red Sox, they will be playing against both the American League East, and the National League East. The same will go for teams in the Central Divisions and in the Western Divisions.

MLB proposed this idea to limit team travel in hopes that the season will be completed without interruptions. Teams will start off with thirty players, then go down to 28 players after fifteen days. Two weeks later, teams will be set at their normal roster number, 26. Baseball in 2020 will not have an All Star game, sorry Los Angeles. However, the trade deadline will be on August 31st. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out, especially with teams playing within their own divisions, and a designated hitter in both the National and American Leagues.

How Will The Red Sox Do in 2020

That’s the big question many Red Sox fans are asking. After a crazy offseason, the Red Sox have a lot to prove to their fan base. There will be some new faces coming to town, like pitcher Martin Perez and outfielder Kevin Pillar. There will also be some familiar faces coming back to town, like Mitch Moreland, who resigned with the Red Sox this past offseason.

General Manager Chaim Bloom stated that both Alex Verdugo and Collin McHugh are expected to play this season. Verdugo, who was part of the Mookie Betts trade, is recovering from a stress fracture in his back. McHugh, who the Red Sox signed as a free agent in March, is recovering from a flexor tendon strain that he sustained in 2019.

As for Chris Sale, he will not be pitching this season. Shortly after the season was halted to to COVID-19, it was announced that Sale was getting Tommy John surgery, and will not be pitching again until at least 2021. Lucky for the Red Sox, they have some pitchers who are looking to make a name for themselves in Boston, and a few who are looking to improve upon their 2019 season.

Eduardo Rodriguez, who went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 2019, is looking to improve in 2020. Manager Ron Roenicke has yet to name his Opening Day starter, but odds are that Rodriguez will get the call. Catchers Kevin Plawecki and Jonathan Lucroy, who came to Boston via free agency, will be competing for the backup role at catcher behind Christian Vazquez. Both veteran catchers signed one year deals with the Red Sox this past offseason.

Around The MLB

A lot has happened since Spring Training was stopped due to COVID-19. Many fans didn’t think that baseball in 2020 would happen. However, here we are. Fans are used to a 162 game season, however, due to negotiations, the fans, players, and MLB are at a 60 game season instead. A lot can happen in 60 games. For the Red Sox, they were 31-29 in their first 60 games in 2019. In order to get to the postseason this year, they’re going to have to do way better than that.

Both the American League East and the National League East will be a challenge for the Red Sox. Not only are they facing their usual rivals like the Yankees, but the’re facing the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals. Going into the 2019 season, the Nationals were not the favorite to win the World Series. Their first 60 games had them at a record of 27-33. They finished with a 93-69 record, and were second in their division.

Each team, and each division is going to have their set of struggles and triumphs this season. Each team in each division is going to have their ups and downs. For some, it’s getting used to the universal designated hitter rule, while for others, it’s figuring out the best lineup to have for each game. While fans won’t have to worry about 10pm games, many will wonder how this season will affect the 2021 season and beyond. Only time can tell that. For now, we have baseball in 2020, which is pretty remarkable.

Dave Dombrowski’s Firing Comes at a Strange Time

Red Sox Nation knew it was coming eventually. However, following the Red Sox’s loss to the Yankees, social media was buzzing. The Red Sox have fired Dave Dombrowski. With about two weeks left, Dave Dombrowski’s firing comes at a strange time. What was the ownership thinking, and what does this mean for everyone else? Now, this also adds onto the offseason list. The Red Sox need to find a new President of Baseball Operations.

When news of Dave Dombrowski’s firing got to the clubhouse, many players wereDave Dombrowski's firing shocked. During the press conference after the game, Alex Cora stated that he was ‘Surprised. I’m shocked, honestly.” Dombrowski hired him to take the reigns of the Red Sox following the 2017 season, which Cora said he was grateful for.

The Timing of Dave Dombrowski’s Firing is Shocking

The Red Sox are 76-67, and just dropped two key games to the Yankees. The bullpen has been a question mark all season long. Now, here we are in September with two key pitchers injured and nobody to take over for them. Also, the trade deadline came and went, with the Red Sox sitting on their hands. This was not a good look for an organization who was trying to make a push for the postseason.

As players were getting ready to leave Fenway Park, many expressed shock and surprise by the news that Cora gave them following the game. When asked about Dave Dombrowski’s firing, players like JD Martinez and Mookie Betts said that they were shocked by the news. As more information rolls in, Red Sox Nation will have a better understanding of the situation.

The Red Sox spokesman, Kevin Gregg said last night that a formal press conference will be held on Monday. From there, hopefully more insight into Dave Dombrowski’s firing will come to light.

What Could Have Led to Dave Dombrowski’s Firing

When Dombrowski came into the organization back in August 2015, he gave us a team that brought us to the postseason three years in a row. In the 2017 off season, he also brought in Alex Cora to take on the role as manager. This past off season, Dombrowski didn’t do much. He allowed Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel to walk away. He also signed Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale to long term deals. That looked like a good idea at the time, but now Eovaldi is in the bullpen and struggling, while Sale has been out with an elbow injury.

Dombrowski also had a habit of bringing in veteran players via trade. For example, in July 2017, he traded two minor league pitchers for Eduardo Nunez. While Nunez was good for Boston at first, the rest of the time he was injured. Another would be in the 2016 off season, when he traded for Chris Sale. Dombrowski traded four minor leaguers for Sale. While Sale is a dominating pitcher, he is also injury prone. Case and point, he is on the injury list, and was thought to have needed Tommy John surgery.

Dombrowski didn’t allow the farm system to grow properly. He brought in players, and kept players that were not contributing. He was given a role that he just couldn’t handle. That led to this season, and how the Red Sox will not be in the postseason for the first time since 2015.

How Will This Play Out in the Offseason?

The list of things to do for Boston just got longer. On top of everything else, they need to find a new President of Baseball operations and a General Manager. Dombrowski has been filling the role as General Manager for the past few seasons, as well as doing his job. The Red Sox have a lot of work to do come the end of the postseason. This includes fixing the bullpen, and keeping certain free agents.

The next few weeks will be strange inside the walls of Fenway Park. While many were shocked, including I’m sure Dombrowski, many were not. Dave Dombrowski’s firing may have come at a strange time, but it needed to be done eventually.