The Red Sox need to manage Chris Sale better in 2019

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox acknowledges fans during the 2018 World Series victory parade on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox acknowledges fans during the 2018 World Series victory parade on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

2018 was a banner year for the Boston Red Sox. Dominating the American League all season and capping it off by winning the World Series. But their main ace would miss much of the end of the season. This can’t happen in 2019 if they want a chance at repeating.

Chris Sale is the number one pitcher on the Boston Red Sox roster. There is absolutely zero doubt or argument against that. That’s why we need to protect him at all costs. Chris Sale is the type of guy that will pitch until his arm falls off. Literally. He would throw that damn ball until his arm was no longer attached to his body.

It’s that fighting spirit and competitiveness that won him the hearts of the Red Sox Nation. It’s also the mindset that earned him several trips to the DL this season. He would get off to a hell of a start on the season amassing an 11-4 record before the train started to go off the tracks.

He would go on the DL for the first time shortly after the All-Star break due to inflammation in his left shoulder. This wouldn’t be the last time that that left shoulder would become a problem. He would make his return to active duty a couple weeks later in a win against Baltimore. Then just days later he’d find himself right back on the DL. He would only pitch a total of 12 innings in September.

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Then came October and the Red Sox were storming into the playoffs. Sale would get a win against the Yankees going 5.1 innings and giving up 2 runs while striking out 8. It definitely felt like the Chris Sale that the Fenway Faithful had become familiar with. Chris would then pitch in game 1 of the ALCS against Houston star Justin Verlander. He’d only go 4 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 5. He would head to the ER after with a mystery stomach ailment.

The Red Sox were very secretive on the status of Sale through the remainder of the postseason after game 1 of the ALCS. No true details were ever given about the stomach issues he felt after that night and or what was done to remedy them.

Sale would return to the team and kick off the World Series against fellow top dog, Clayton Kershaw. Chris’ night would end after 4 innings after giving up 3 runs. We wouldn’t see Chris Sale pitch again until game 5 of the World Series. He’d roar back after an up and down end of the season to strike out the side to lock up the World Series for Boston.

With Sale’s season bookending with great success but being filled with frustration in the middle, I can guarantee he’s looking to kill in 2019. That’s what worries me. With how easily his shoulder gave out in the second half of the season and whatever that mysterious stomach issue was, I want to see less of Sale.

He doesn’t need to pitch so many innings, it’s just not needed. This season was his lowest in innings since his early years with Chicago, he finished with 158 IP. His last three seasons prior to 2018 he put up 214.1, 226.2, and 208.2 IP. Those are ridiculous numbers. He also had 8 complete games in those previous three seasons.

Yes, this season may have been one of his lowest in IP in his career, but that is also because his body failed him. All the miles that he put on that left arm over the years has come back to bite him. Having miss 99.9% of August and a chunk of September and the playoffs, I want him pitching even less in 2019.

I don’t want him putting the team on his back and trying to do it all by himself. Alex Cora needs to reign in his superstar ace and keep his health as the top interest. I don’t doubt at all that AC has his players’ best interests and their health at the top of his list, but pressure from above and the fans can cloud judgment. Especially after the success, we saw in 2018.

I would love to see Sale make it through the season fully healthy and contribute to the success of the squad in 2019 from start to finish. If that means an extra day off here and there then so be it. We have enough pitchers that can sub in for a spot start if necessary. I’d much rather sub in somebody and give Sale an extra day to keep that left shoulder happy.

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With 2018 firmly in the rearview mirror and 2019 coming in faster than a Nathan Eovaldi fastball, it’s time to prepare. A major key to the success of the Red Sox in 2019 will be keeping their top ace healthy all season. If Boston can keep Sale on the mound all year long, there will be a good chance that the Commissioner’s Trophy will be heading back to Fenway Park.