Boston Red Sox: 3 Players who need to step up down the stretch

Kyle Schwarber #18 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Kyle Schwarber #18 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox player who needs to step up No. 1: Chris Sale

Chris Sale’s last major league start came on August 13, 2019, a 7-6 win over the Cleveland Indians. Now nearly two years to the day, Sale is set to make his triumphant return to the majors this afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. And boy do the Sox need him.

Prior to missing what amounted to two years of action, Sale struggled for much of 2019. He still had wipeout stuff, amassing an inordinate amount of strikeouts, but finished the season with a 4.40 ERA, which was the highest of his career by a full run.

Prior to that season though, Sale had finished no higher than sixth in the Cy Young voting for the past seven seasons. That’s the version of Sale the Sox are banking on coming back, and how Sale performs could ultimately determine where Boston finishes this season.

Perez and Richards are already in the bullpen, and the rest of the rotation has been inconsistent at best lately. Not to mention, the bullpen has become increasingly unreliable since the All-Star break, meaning more will be expected of the starting rotation.

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That’s why Boston needs Sale to step up so badly. The pitching has exceeded expectations all season long, but those results are beginning to disappear. They picked up basically no pitching at the trade deadline because they knew Sale would be coming back soon.

Now it’s time for him to perform. Boston’s pitching staff has been running on fumes lately, and Sale could be what is needed to pick them back up. Despite not pitching in a major league game in two years, there’s nobody the Red Sox need to step up more than Chris Sale.