Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale has singe-handedly fixed the starting rotation

Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Despite the Boston Red Sox recent COVID outbreak, they continue to hang around in the American League wild card race. They sit just a half game behind the New York Yankees for the top wild card spot, and have built up a nice three game cushion over the Seattle Mariners for the second spot.

A large reason they have been able to stay afloat despite losing 11 players (and counting) to their COVID outbreak is their starting pitching. The starting rotation went cold to start the second half of the season, which led to Garrett Richards and Martin Perez getting booted to the bullpen. Ever since then, the rotation has turned things around, and been a driving force in Boston not falling out of contention for a playoff spot.

This all coincided with the return of Chris Sale from a two year long absence. Sale returned on August 14th, and the Sox have gone 12-9 since then. Keep in mind Boston has dealt with seemingly losing a new player to COVID every day, while facing a relatively difficult slate of opponents. That 12-9 record looks more impressive when all things are considered.

Sale has single-handedly rejuvenated a seemingly desolate starting rotation. The rotation had powered Boston to it’s first half success, but faltered so mightily to start the second half of the season. Yet once they got their de facto ace in Sale back, everything changed, and the starting rotation has once again morphed into the most consistent part of this team.

How Chris Sale has fixed the Boston Red Sox starting rotation

Since Sale’s return, he has pitched in four games, with Boston winning each of those four games. For those concerned (myself included) over whether or not Sale would be able to jump right back in and be the ace he once was, Sale has quickly put those concerns to rest. Not only have Sale’s results been a sight to behold for Sox fans, but his ability to lead by example has set a high bar the rest of the rotation has worked on following.

Take Sale’s most recent start against the Tampa Bay Rays for example. It wasn’t Sale’s best outing (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K), and he was constantly getting himself into sticky situations, but he was able to limit the damage and keep the team in the game. Sale was notably fired up after escaping inning after inning without allowing many runs, and the bullpen took note. They blanked the Rays over the remaining three innings, and Boston eventually came back to win the game in the ninth.

That’s the type of intensity and desire to win Sale has been renowned for, and it’s clearly had an impact on the rest of the rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez, who has struggled with consistency for much of the season, followed him up the next day with arguably his best start of the season, as he blanked the Rays through six shutout innings. Rodriguez has pitched in four games since Sale’s return, and he’s made it through six innings in three of those games, which is a great sign.

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Hopefully Rodriguez will be able to turn things around, as that will give Boston four really high quality starters heading into the playoffs. Nathan Eovaldi has continued his phenomenal season, and has rebounded quite nicely after a horrid start against the Toronto Blue Jays to kick off the month. Tanner Houck has also been sensational, and has continued to prove he should be a part of the rotation for the rest of the season.

Sale’s desire to win has spread like wildfire throughout the Boston Red Sox starting rotation. It’s no surprise that his return has coincided with one of the Sox recent stretches of success this season. Sale returning upped the ante in the rotation; his return (along with Houck’s) resulted in two guys getting sent to the bullpen. Guys like Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta are fighting to keep their spots in the rotation now.

Next. Bobby Dalbec feeling the flow at the plate. dark

Many fans lamented the Red Sox not moving for another starter at the MLB Trade Deadline, with the front office clearly banking on Sale returning and giving the rotation a huge boost. It’s clear that Sale has done just that. The question is whether or not it will be enough to propel the Boston Red Sox into the playoffs this season.