Red Sox outlook 2023: What if Chris Sale returns to elite status

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 17: (NEW YIRK DAILIES OUT) Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 17: (NEW YIRK DAILIES OUT) Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Can Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale return to dominance on the mound?

If there was a way the Boston Red Sox could put bubble wrap around Chris Sale to get him through a full season, they probably would.  Playing in just 11 games over the last two seasons, the hard-throwing lefty has a lot to prove in 2023.

After missing all of the 2020 season and most of 2021 following Tommy John surgery, Sale says he is “full-go” after suffering a broken right wrist in a bicycle crash last August.  Add a rib injury in between that and it seems like the Red Sox ace can’t catch a break when it comes to health.

Well, perhaps we shouldn’t use that word.  But in labeling himself “Humpty Dumpty,” Sale’s aim is to put it back all together on the mound and return to his dominant form, despite feeling a big cursed as he called it at the Winter Weekend.

"“You catch yourself looking over your corner just waiting for the next bad things to happen.  That’s not clean living right there.  That’s unfortunate.  Could it be worse?  Absolutely,” he said, via  “I’ve gained a tremendous amount of perspective through all of this.  I’ve had a really rough couple of years.  But if you look throughout the entire world and what happened in my own backyard a couple of months ago, things could be much, much worse.”"

But, in keeping it positive, Sale went on to say he was “very excited” about what’s in front of him because all the time off over the past three years means he has a fresh arm and perhaps a stronger arm two years removed from the Tommy John surgery.

A healthy Chris Sale gives Boston Red Sox rotation a boost

If he is healthy, he would give the Red Sox starting rotation a boost.  The question is whether he can be elite again.  Can he be that dominant force on the mound the Sox can count on every fifth day in that rotation.

As it stands, Sale leads a rotation of Corey Kluber, Nick Pivetta and Garrett Whitlock with Tanner Houck and Brayan Bello as the wild cards in the back of that rotation.  While Kluber is a proven veteran and Pivetta is a solid middle of the rotation starter, the Red Sox really need either Whitlock, Bello or Houck to break out as front of the rotation pitchers.

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If that happens, a return to dominance for Sale would make 2023 a very interesting year for the team.  Obviously, that would also depend on whether the offense can put some runs on the board.

In all, it really starts with Chris Sale.  Along with being physically able, he needs to be mentally able.  When it comes to whether he can return to that elite status, his mental focus is on making that a sure bet.

"“The circumstances have changed.  My expectations have not.  I’m the same person I was talking to you guys in the offseason in 2017,” Sale said.  “My expectations never waiver.  I’m not going to lower them for any reason.  I have full confidence in myself…. I’m hard on myself.  I demand a lot from myself.  I have very high expectations.  That goes well with this fan base.  I don’t expect anything less than what I’ve always been.”"

Next. Red Sox outlook 2023: What if Masataka Yoshida lives up to the hype. dark

This is a fanbase who is also reluctant to get too excited when it comes to Sale…or the 2023 Boston Red Sox for that matter.  However, if Sale does return to close to elite status, the atmosphere surrounding the team will start to change.

Prediction/Outlook: Sale bounces back with 15-18 wins with an ERA just under 3.00 with 210 strikeouts.