The situation with Chris Sale is certainly one that has Red Sox Nation on edge. When an arm situation is mentioned the knee-jerk reaction is Tommy John Surgery is waiting.
The latest arm misery for Chris Sale raises warning flags that outdo any category five hurricane warning. Red Sox Nation is in a tenuous position with the hope the latest shoulder situation is just extraordinary caution for the most valuable pitching asset on the team and quite possibly baseball.
The loss of Sale can be measured in both short and long-term with the short being of concern since it impacts a march to the World Series. Last season Sale was not the lights out postseason pitcher RSN thought would sail (pun intended) the team into the final round. Sale failed and 2018 was redemption time. Now that has a huge question mark.
The Red Sox without Sale will be in the playoffs and the playoff rotation will still be respectable. David Price starts and it has almost been a guaranteed win when Price saunters to the hill. A big ditto for that with Eduardo Rodriguez who may have ranked as the number two starter before having I’ve fallen and can’t get up moment.
Between Sale’s two shoulder injuries was a remarkable five innings pitched with 12 strikeouts performance. Sale has been on a legendary run of being virtually untouchable as batters continue to take the walk of shame back to the dugout after being mesmerized by heat or a slider that is unworldly. Will that still be around?
My assumption is Sale and the Red Sox are moving with caution and the ten days may suddenly be doubled as the team and Sale take pitching baby steps to recovery. If Sale is unavailable for the postseason rotation there is the possibility that he would most certainly be ready for bullpen duty. Now, folks, that would certainly be one mighty fine bridge to Craig Kimbrel.
If Sale continues to experience shoulder issues and the various MRI’s come back with bad news this will not only reverberate this season but in 2019 and beyond. Sale has one year left before entering free agency and a bundle of money awaits Sale. Sale may just be forced into a rebuild contract value situation if he has a significant arm issue.
Sale could conceivably miss the entire 2019 season and that would have a dramatic impact on the Red Sox rotation – no real rocket science needed with that. The subtext could be making Sale questionable for a long-term deal if surgery is avoided, but issues continue to remain and Sale is an on and off again with the DL. Boston went through this process with Pedro Martinez and choose not to resign Pedro. A wise decision as history proved.
Pitchers periodically get arm weary and this is being marketed as such. The Red Sox may be hiding information, but that is for conspiracy theorists. When you have the MLB innings that Sale has accumulated and with his velocity, one must expect to be a bit tired. This was drummed as the case last season to explain Sale’s late-season failures including the playoffs.
Sale has no structural damage if you have faith in the Red Sox party line that is being distributed. No MRI was scheduled the last time, but I seriously doubt that none will be performed this time. So the best case is really the simple case – tired arm. If resting Sale gets the results he had coming off the first DL stint batters should go into hibernation.