The Boston Red Sox are holding off on activating Chris Sale from the disabled list. When can we expect to see the lefty on the mound again?
When Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale landed on the disabled list with mild shoulder inflammation the expectation was that he would only miss one start. We thought the lefty would return to the rotation when first eligible on Wednesday during the series in Toronto. Now he won’t be facing the Blue Jays after all.
Don’t panic. This is not a sign that Sale has suffered a setback. He’s ready to get back out there but the team is being cautious. The plan is to use Sale during the following series in Baltimore instead. That way he can avoid having to pitch in Philadelphia during the two-game series from August 14-15.
The Red Sox wisely prefer to have Sale skip that series so that he won’t have to hit in a National League ballpark. The last thing they need from their pitcher coming off a shoulder injury is to swing the bat when he’s not used to doing so.
Boston has a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday, August 11 in Baltimore, the result of the game that was rained out on July 25. The Red Sox have yet to announce a starter for the nightcap. It’s likely that this is the sport where Sale gets plugged in. They could also start Sale during the afternoon game that day and switch David Price to the second game of the doubleheader.
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The Red Sox are slated to use Drew Pomeranz to open the series in Toronto on Tuesday, followed by Brian Johnson and Rick Porcello. Nathan Eovaldi is pegged as the starter on Friday to open the series in Baltimore. Given how well his first two starts with the Red Sox have gone there seems little reason to bump him off his normal schedule. The rotation cycles back to Pomeranz for the finale of the four-game series in Baltimore.
Pomeranz’ hold on a rotation spot is hanging by a thread. If his next outing in Toronto doesn’t go well then it’s possible Pomeranz is jettisoned to the bullpen. However, that shouldn’t alter when Sale starts. The Red Sox would need to turn to a spot starter either way if Pomeranz is booted from the rotation due to the doubleheader in Baltimore. Ideally, Sale would pitch in one of those games on Saturday.
The benefit of using Sale on Saturday is that his next turn through the rotation would be August 18 against Tampa Bay, which then lines him up to start the final game of the series against the Cleveland Indians. If the Red Sox hold Sale until Sunday in Baltimore then he likely misses the Cleveland series.
The Red Sox will have to wait a bit longer than expected to get their ace back but it’s for the best. There’s no reason to risk having him step to the plate as a hitter in Philadelphia. The extra rest will be good for Sale in the long run. Plus, Johnson has been a pleasant surprise when given the opportunity to start. He should suffice on Wednesday in place of Sale against a Blue Jays lineup that rates below-average with a 94 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
The important takeaway is that Sale is healthy. The reason for the delay isn’t out of concern for his shoulder but rather a strategic move intended to line up their rotation.