Four pitchers the Red Sox can acquire to fill in for Chris Sale

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Manager Alex Cora #20 removes starting pitcher Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox from the game during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Manager Alex Cora #20 removes starting pitcher Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox from the game during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 23: Michael Pineda #35 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 23, 2021 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 23: Michael Pineda #35 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 23, 2021 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Red Sox Target: RHP Michael Pineda

Let’s be clear about Michael Pineda: He’s not going to be a frontline starting pitcher. Injury plagued-season after injury-plagued season has sapped Pineda of his once elite stuff, and his fastball velocity dropped a mile and a half last year. The result? A career-low 7.2 K/9 and 22.1 whiff rate. He is also still a significant injury risk, as he has topped just 30 starts just once in his eleven seasons.

Yet here’s the thing: Pineda knows how to pitch. He’s never had a walk rate above 3.0 BB/9, including a rate of 1.7 in two of the last three seasons. He’s a master at getting hitters to swing at pitches out of the zone, ranking in the 96th percentile in chase rate.

And while his fastball has undoubtedly lost some zip, Pineda still possesses a versatile five-pitch mix that he can throw in any count.

So no, Pineda is no longer able to overpower hitters, but there is something to be said for a veteran pitcher who pounds the strike zone and knows how to set up hitters. He may not be a frontline pitcher like some of the pitchers we’ll see later on this list, but he is a solid bet to give a team quality innings at a low price.