Can the Red Sox combine Chris Sale and Steven Wright if both are limited? The month of September will determine the pitching feasibility of both.
The next few weeks some significant question marks regarding the Red Sox roster for the playoffs will be determined and some baseball hearts will be broken. But what really has been broken is the rotation that has been somewhat liquidated by injuries and poor performance.
That means there may be the potential for a hybrid starter to emerge. No “opener” as implemented by Tampa, but the utilization of two pitchers who are recovering and may have limitations. That means Chris Sale and Steven Wright.
The Sale shoulder miseries have been well documented. The first disabled list visit was followed by a five-inning and 68 pitch effort that puts dazzling to shame. That was good news and in a few days the bad news spewed out with Sale’s shoulder being inflamed and another DL visit. The latest effort was a 26 pitch recovery session and that will be increased.
Wright was just rounding into shape with some excellent starts in which Wright tossed 20.1 innings allowing a lone run. Then came Seattle and 10 runs and back to the DL with his surgically repaired knee causing some aggravation. Wright has looked solid in relief with four innings tossed in three games and no runs allowed. We tend to forget just how good Wright can be.
Can both be expected to go the distance? Will Sale’s shoulder hold up as he flings a 100 pitches? Will he arise the next day with only his right-hand mobile? And Wright? Will the knee allow Wright to go deep into starts? The arm is healthy, but that knee could be questionable.
So what do you do with half a starter? Together you have a full starter and a total nightmare for hitters. If Wright starts or Sale starts hitters will see one look and by the second time around toss adjustments out the window as a new look will present itself. If Sale is limited to 50 pitches that could translate to three solid innings and potentially four.
The hybrid Wright-Sale would most certainly be followed by Craig Kimbrel. A delicious pitching sampler of Sale to Wright to Kimbrel. Speed – a pause – and speed and a timing nightmare. Even a three-inning stint from both has the potential to be havoc for opposing hitters.
The best case scenario is a healthy Sale leading off and going seven innings, but anything is possible with fragile arms and knees. This – of course – is a possible long-shot, but when playoff baseball is at hand anything is possible. My hope basket wants a healthy Sale and a Wright causing a few innings of hitters misery.
Stats through 9/12.
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