“Boogeyman’s coming” tweeted Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold. Seabold’s tweet was in response to the news that Red Sox ace Chris Sale would be joining the Red Sox as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Sale has been out since March of 2020 but he is expected to begin facing batters soon. So what does the return of Chris Sale mean for the Red Sox? First, let’s look at the rumors about his potential return.
Sale was seen throwing in the outfield at Fenway Park prior to Monday’s 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins. Sale’s return to the club has fans optimistic that he could be back on the mound this summer, in hopes that he can make a difference in the AL East race.
The Red Sox Current Rotation
Sale would be joining a staff that has already exceeded the expectations of many. In the shortened 60-game MLB season last year, the Red Sox went 24-36 with a team ERA of 5.85 and allowed 325 earned runs. Through 60 games this season, the Red Sox are 37-23 with a team ERA of 3.81 and have allowed just 223 earned runs. Every pitcher on the Red Sox current starting rotation has a winning percentage of at least .500, and none of their ERAs surpass 4.00.
In three seasons with the Red Sox, Sale has posted a career ERA of 3.08, with a .603 win percentage, and 763 strikeouts. Sale has also finished top five in AL Cy Young voting twice, and has appeared in two All Star games in his Red Sox career. Adding Sale to a rotation that has already been impressive this season could be a big a boost for the Sox
The Red Sox Will Have Some Decisions To Make
Assuming Sale is able to make a return to the mound this summer, the Red Sox will have some decisions to make. With Sale coming up, the Red Sox would have to remove a pitcher from the starting rotation, unless they adopt the rare six man rotation. We have seen teams such as the Mariners and Tigers use the six man rotation, but it is not very common. The Red Sox have five capable pitchers in their rotation, along with the return of Chris Sale looming. We also can’t forget about 24-year-old Tanner Houck, who made two early season starts for the Red Sox and is now in Worcester. One thing that is for sure, the Red Sox pitching depth doesn’t seem like it will be a problem.
Another Alternative For Sale
Another alternative for Sale and the Red Sox could be to bring him out of the bullpen once he is ready to go. As we have seen with reliever Garrett Whitlock, Alex Cora and the Red Sox do not rush guys coming off Tommy John surgery. Garrett Whitlock has been one of the better relievers for the Red Sox this season, but still only pitches every four or five days due to coming of Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox signed Sale to a five-year $145 million extension in 2019 that keeps him with the club until the 2025 season, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Given how the Red Sox starters have pitched this season, the Red Sox shouldn’t have any need to rush Sale.
Given the contract Sale is currently on, and the position the Red Sox will likely be in when he returns , pitching Sale out of the bullpen to start might be best for the Red Sox.