A Red Sox loss on Monday night could potentially force manager Alex Cora to start Chris Sale on short rest. That can be avoided with a nice win.
Chris Sale‘s start in the first game of the ALDS was not the best Sale of 2018 on display, but good enough to toss a nice 5.1 innings and 93 pitches before the bullpen did an attempt at self-emulation that failed. Sale is the “Ace” of the Boston Red Sox and the best option for winning a needed game and that may surface depending on the outcome this evening.
Playoff baseball is not one of patience nor is it one where the managers go by the book. Alex Cora finally tired of his bullpen in game one and brought in starter Rick Porcello. Cora was not done. Closer Craig Kimbrel came in for a four-out save. Expect pitch counts and the regimentation of role to be ignored when necessity strikes.
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Tonight it will be Nathan Eovaldi, who has pitched with a certain level of aplomb against his former team. Eovaldi will also be of a tight restriction and any wildness or Yankee bludgeoning and Eovaldi will get a quick hook. Boston most certainly wants to get a win to prevent Sale from being forced into a three-day start,
Sale has gone only once in his career on three days and it was not one of success, but a loss. That, of course, means nothing. Nor does a potential game five starter mean anything since this is now a “for the moment” territory.
Historically, the most recognizable short rest in Red Sox playoff history happened in 1967 when Jim Lonborg was given the ball for Game 7. Lonborg – who had pitched magnificently in the series against the Cardinals – lost to Bob Gibson. Manager Dick Williams went with his best and I would assume manager Cora would do the same.
If Sale is forced into that situation just what do you do at Fenway Park if Sale wins? Would David Price be given another chance at being a postseason pitching pinata? Would Eduardo Rodriguez – a one time Yankee killer – be offered up as a pitching sacrifice? Would it be an inning here or there with the hot hand going as long as possible?
The reality is the only target would be game at hand and not the game of the future. In a Game 5, everyone is available and that even means Sale – even if Sale had magically gone eight innings. But the idea is to avoid such circumstances and that task falls on the right shoulder of Eovaldi and the Red Sox bats doing what is expected.