Red Sox News: Chris Sale tests positive for COVID, will not start Sunday
Chris Sale is the latest Red Sox player to test positive for COVID-19
Chris Sale tested positive for COVID-19, as first reported by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. Sale is the latest victim in the COVID outbreak that is currently ravaging the Red Sox clubhouse. Starting with Kiké Hernandez’s positive test that landed him on the COVID-19 Injured List on August 27th, 11 more players including Sale have tested positive as well. Christian Arroyo, Martin Perez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, Xander Bogaerts, Yairo Munoz, Jarren Duran, Danny Santana, and Nick Pivetta all missed time during this outbreak due to COVID.
The primary concern for Sale and anyone else who tests positive for COVID-19 is that the symptoms are mild and recovery is quick. While there is no convenient time to lose your ace, this is one of the worst times for illness to strike. A recent Yankees skid allowed the Red Sox to regain pole position in the Wild Card race.
As it stands, the Red Sox would battle the Yankees at Fenway in a one-game playoff to advance to the ALDS. It would be the first postseason match between the two teams since the Red Sox dusted them in the ALDS en route to their 2018 World Series title. The Yankees, who are 2-8 in their last 10 may not even make it that far as they just dropped 4 in a row to a surging Blue Jays team who is nipping at their heels, just 0.5 games back of the 2nd Wild Card spot.
The Red Sox can’t afford to give back any of the ground they just gained. The outbreak is seemingly not contained and more players may be forced to miss time, further jeopardizing the Red Sox playoff hopes.
With Sale out of commission on Sunday, who will start in his place? Garrett Richards could come out of the bullpen and return to a starter role on Sunday to fill in for Sale. Richards last worked on Wednesday but threw just 9 pitches. Kutter Crawford, who was an emergency starter when Pivetta tested positive could be recalled from the minors to fill in once again. Crawford pitched 2 innings, giving up 5 earned runs on 5 hits and two walks in his MLB debut last week.
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Martín Pérez is another possible fill-in as he’s eligible to be activated off the 10-day COVID IL in time for Sunday’s game. Several other players who have been quarantining while on the COVID-IL are expected to return to the team this weekend including Barnes, Sawamura, Bogaerts, and Muñoz. Pivetta is also possible to return early after testing positive last week as he is vaccinated and can be reactivated as long as he’s not showing symptoms.
No matter how you slice it, nobody who starts for the Red Sox on Sunday will be as good as Chris Sale has been, who in his 5 games back since missing 2020 and the first half of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery is posting a 2.52 ERA and ranks 11th among qualified starts in K/9. The team needs him and everyone else who’s missed time due to COVID healthy and back in action for the playoff push.