Red Sox ace Chris Sale uncertain for ALCS Game 5 start
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox remain uncertain about the status of ace Chris Sale, putting his availability for Game 5 of the ALCS in doubt.
Chris Sale is on his way to Houston to rejoin his teammates after spending Sunday night at Massachusetts General Hospital due to a stomach illness. As encouraging as it is that Sale was released from the hospital without any significant concerns, his status for starting Game 5 of the ALCS for the Boston Red Sox remains questionable.
Manager Alex Cora told reporters prior to Tuesday’s Game 3 that he will meet with Sale and the team trainers to assess his status when the lefty arrives in Houston. Cora indicated that Sale will throw a side session today. If you see Sale in the bullpen, don’t be fooled into thinking he’s getting ready to pitch tonight. He’s unavailable for Game 3 and may not even be ready for his next scheduled start on Thursday.
If Sale isn’t ready to go by Game 5 it will put the Red Sox in a tough spot. Eduardo Rodriguez would be the most likely candidate to start in his place but he hasn’t made it through four innings in over a month after finishing the season in the bullpen. He faced the Houston Astros last month, getting shelled for five runs over 3 1/3 innings. E-Rod surrendered three runs in 2 2/3 innings over two appearances in the ALDS against the Yankees.
The alternative to starting Rodriguez would be to make Game 5 a bullpen game. That may end up being the case regardless of if E-Rod is used. Even if he manages to pitch to his potential, it’s hard to see Rodriguez lasting deep into the game when he hasn’t started a game in weeks.
More from Red Sox News
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Why Red Sox fans should be rooting for Carlos Correa’s Mets deal to go through
That puts tremendous pressure on Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi and Game 4 starter Rick Porcello. Both will need to eat up innings in their outings to keep the bullpen fresh in case Boston needs to lean on their relievers in Game 5.
It also makes it almost essential to win at least one of the next two games. The Red Sox can’t afford to have Game 5 be an elimination game when they don’t know if Sale will be available to save them.
It’s unlikely that the Red Sox would make a roster move to add another starting pitcher, such as Brian Johnson or Hector Velazquez. Certainly not at Sale’s expense. If Sale were to be removed from the ALCS roster due to injury then he’d be ineligible for the World Series. That would be a worst case scenario and signal his health is worse than we’ve been led to believe.
Sale’s status is a concern the Red Sox can’t afford to dwell on. They still have two more pivotal games to play before they have to worry about if their ace can pitch again in this series.