Chris Sale returns: Is it too little, too late for the Red Sox?

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Chris Sale will make his long-awaited return to a major league mound when he takes the rubber for the Red Sox Friday against the Tigers after a two-month IL stint.

Sale was placed on the 15-day IL on June 2 with left shoulder inflammation, and later moved to the 60 day IL on June 9. Prior to his injury, Chris Sale was putting up numbers we hadn't seen in years and was providing a much-needed boost to the Red Sox rotation.

The question "Is Chris Sale back?" first started after his dominant outing in Minnesota on April 18, when his line read: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB and 11 K. You have to go back to April 23, 2019 against the Tigers to find the last time Sale recorded 10 strikeouts in a game. He went on to shine over his next several starts, and posted a 2.42 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in the month of May to go with 30 strikeouts and the opposition hitting an underwhelming .183 against him.

Not to mention: Sale's fastball was registering in the upper 90s for the first time in several years. He was going deep into games as well, something that had eluded the Red Sox rotation for the most part in 2023. Sale's best outing of the season came on May 13 when he went eight full innings, allowing only one run on three hits and striking out nine.

The Red Sox need Chris Sale returning to form to make one last run at the postseason

Paired with the early-season success of Tanner Houck and a breakout year for Bryan Bello, Chris Sale returning to his old form was what the Red Sox were going to need if they had aspirations of making a postseason run in 2023.

The Red Sox finished the first half 48-43, and have since gone 11-12 following the All-Star break. They currently find themselves fourth in the American League East, and fell to three games behind Seattle for the third and final Wild Card spot. Losers of eight of their last 11, the question that has to be asked is whether the reinforcements arriving are too little, too late for the Red Sox to make a run at the postseason.

After a very uneventful trade deadline, with Trevor Story's return earlier this week and the returns of both Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock on the horizon, the Red Sox may have just enough reinforcements arriving to help this team squeeze into the postseason in 2023.