Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale’s spring just went from bad to worse. After being sidelined early due to pneumonia, Sale came down with elbow soreness after a throwing session. Sale will be sent for an MRI, and the images will be sent to Dr. James Andrews, who is known for performing Tommy John surgery.
Sale, 30, was limited to 147 1/3 innings in 2019 due to an elbow issue. Sale was placed on the Injured List in August due to elbow inflammation, and missed the rest of the season. He posted an uncharacteristic 4.40 ERA, though Sale’s 3.39 FIP suggested he was far better than that ERA.
While the severity of Sale’s injury has yet to be determined, the fact that he’s injured at all is bad news for Red Sox fans hoping the team would compete this season. Sale was already expected to miss the start of the season due to his bout with pneumonia. If his elbow injury is serious, Sale could be looking at a lengthy absence.
With David Price gone, that leaves Eduardo Rodriguez as the Red Sox’s best starting pitcher. Rodriguez posted a 3.81 ERA over 203 1/3 innings in 2019.
Yankees injuries made Red Sox interesting
The trade of Mookie Betts and Price sent plenty of signals the Red Sox didn’t view 2020 as a contention year, but injuries to New York Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton thrust the Red Sox back into the conversation for the American League East. That task will get much harder if Sale has to miss a significant portion of the season.
Depending on how hard the Yankees are hit with injuries, it now looks like the Tampa Bay Rays, and not the Red Sox, stand to benefit the most from the rest of the division falling apart.
Baseball fans have worried about Chris Sale for years
Sale’s elbow troubles may not come as a surprise to prospect analysts who watched Sale charge through the White Sox’s system. Sale is known for an unusual throwing motion and slight frame. He doesn’t drop down low enough to be considered a side-armer, but his arm angle is much lower than a typical over-the-top motion.
While Sale occasionally dealt with arm issues with the White Sox, he was incredibly durable with the team. From 2012 to 2016, Sale averaged 203 innings per season with Chicago. With the Red Sox, Sale has averaged 173 innings over three seasons.
Though it’s easy for those analysts to now say, “I told you so,” Sale had a dominant run in the majors before an elbow injury this serious occurred. Given the inherent risk in every pitcher, it’s not fair to point to Sale’s injury as a reason to gloat. Pitchers get hurt at alarming rates. Often, those injuries are unpredictable. Sale’s could easily fall into that category.
For now, the Red Sox are hoping Sale won’t be sidelined too long due to the issue. Losing him for any amount of time would be devastating not only to the Red Sox, but to baseball fans who have come to appreciate Sale’s excellence on the mound.
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