Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point of the season where the Red Sox need to start planning for next year. They’re 6 games out of a Wild Card spot with 19 games to play, and their playoff odds are just 1.5% at Baseball-Reference. It’s time to pack it in and accept the fact that for the fourth time in five years, there will be no October baseball at Fenway Park.
Boston has already begun shutting down key players for the rest of the season, including James Paxton, Jarren Duran, and even super-prospect Marcelo Mayer. Oddly enough, however, the team has yet to shut down one of its most expensive and injury-prone veterans: Chris Sale.
Red Sox are Mishandling Chris Sale
Sale, as usual, is limping to the finish line. He just got tuned up by the Orioles for 7 runs (6 earned) in 4 innings over the weekend. His velocity was down, which is usually a sign that a pitcher has suffered an arm injury and needs to go on the IL. That would hardly be surprising for Sale, who has spent much of the past five years on the shelf.
With the Red Sox all but eliminated from contention, it seemed like the perfect time to shut Sale down for the year and give him some extra rest.
Instead, the team is forcing him to keep pitching. They bumped his next start back two days to give him some extra rest, but what’s the point? Why tax Sale’s already brittle arm more than you need to in what is almost certainly going to be a meaningless game? Why risk him potentially injuring himself when he’s still under contract for 2024 and is expected to be a key contributor in the rotation next year?
This strategy just makes no sense to me, and we’ve seen it backfire before. Boston kept pitching Garrett Whitlock and Nathan Eovaldi last September with the team headed for last place, putting unnecessary strain on their bodies that ultimately resulted in offseason surgery for Whitlock. At some point, you need to stop trying to win meaningless ballgames and protect the long-term health of your assets.
The Red Sox aren’t doing that with Sale right now, which is absolutely ludicrous given his injury history. If he throws one more pitch for the 2023 Red Sox, it will be one pitch too many.
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