The Boston Red Sox are off to the worst start by a defending world champion in 20 years. A big factor in the poor start has been the lack of effectiveness from Chris Sale.
We’re several weeks into the season and there doesn’t seem to be any turnaround in sight for the Red Sox. Night after night, game after game, it just feels like this team has lost its identity. The starting rotation that dominated the baseball world last year can’t find the strike zone. The batters that struck fear in every team can’t score any runs. And the manager that had all the right moves on the chessboard seems to be playing checkers.
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There’s no reason to sugarcoat anything anymore. We can try as hard as we want to find the silver linings but they’re just too few and far to even locate. Last night just piled onto that feeling of dismay as Boston was dominated by their most hated rivals. Things felt like they were going to go well for the Red Sox and Chris Sale as he looked the best he had all season. Then the Yankees figured out the southpaw and things went downhill in a hurry.
Sale was able to complete five innings on Tuesday night and that was about it as far as positivity. Yeah, he also got his fastball up in the 97-98 MPH range which is his best of the season, but again that’s nothing in the grand scheme. It’s great that Sale was able to find the velocity that he’s been missing all season but that still didn’t help him in defeating New York.
Through the first two innings, Sale was cruising and looked as if he had found the confidence that has been absent since the season began. Things would soon spiral out of control as the Yankees began tacking on the runs. Two in the third, two in the fourth and so on and so forth. Sale is only responsible for 4 of the 8 runs that the Yankees threw onto the scoreboard last night, but poor pitch selection led to them.
Chris Sale is now 0-4 on the season just weeks after signing a new 5-year/$145 M contract extension with the Red Sox. Thing’s haven’t quite panned out for either Sale or the Red Sox as they go into tonight’s clash with the Yankees carrying a 6-12 record. Neither Boston or Chris seems to know where the issues formed or how to resolve them. In speaking to the media after last night’s start Sale seemed perplexed but much like Mookie Betts, takes full credit for his poor showings.
"“It sucks. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it,” Sale said. “I just flat-out stink right now. I don’t know what it is. When you’re going good, it’s good. When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad.”"
Going into the season Red Sox manager Alex Cora held his starters off for as long as possible with the mindset to keep them fresh for October. At this pace, Boston will be on the golf course when the calendar flips to the Fall Classic. We’ve seen enough of a sample size now from the starting rotation that we can come to the conclusion that the delay in spring work was a poor plan.
It’s not just one pitcher slumping, it’s all of them. David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Rick Porcello all join Sale on the bus as far as poor 2019’s go. At least E-Rod and Price have gotten wins.
But Sale is the one that has Red Sox Nation scratching their heads the most. He has been as dominant as dominant gets during his career and it’s like he lost his mojo. The awful beginning to his 2019 feels like a continuation to his breakdown as 2018 concluded. The Conductor knows that he isn’t where he needs to be for this team to accomplish their goals and he’s taking his bad start personally.
"“This is as frustrated as I’ve ever been on a baseball field,” Sale said. “This is flat-out embarrassing for my family, for my team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.”"
Even with everything seemingly crumbling around them, the Red Sox are optimistic that the season can be turned around. And I don’t blame them as it’s still incredibly early in the campaign. Not everything is rainbows and sunshine and there needs to be some accountability though. But with all the doom and gloom AC still feels that Sale and the Red Sox are close to finding the course they want to be on.
"“I’m not gonna be surprised if in his next outing, he’s right where we need him to be,” Cora said. “I think stuff-wise, if you compare it to the first three, the velocity was there and the slider was better today. I think he’s very close to the quote-on-quote real Chris Sale.”"
The Red Sox have dug themselves into a massive hole and it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work and a bit of luck to get out of it. Luckily, time is on their side and they have the roster to get the ship back on course in the blink of an eye. With Chris Sale in the starting rotation, it’s only a matter of time before he figures it out and things begin to click. For Boston’s sake hopefully, he finds whatever it is he’s looking for and soon.