Chris Sale’s 2019 season came to an end in August when he hit the shelf with left elbow inflammation. Fortunately, he was able to treat the injury with a PRP injection and rest. The Red Sox ace began a throwing program in December, and he told reporters today (including Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe) his elbow is now fine. Tommy John surgery was never on the table, Sale said (via Chris Cotillo of MassLive).
More recently, though, the 30-year-old (31 in March) came down with a mild case of pneumonia, reports Christopher Smith of MassLive. Boston won’t ramp him up too hard during spring training, manager Ron Roenicke told Smith, preferring to cautiously monitor as he rebuilds strength. Roenicke acknowledged that conservative build-up leaves open the possibility Sale could miss Opening Day. Nevertheless, the left-hander expressed hope (via Cotillo) he will indeed be ready for the start of the season.
A return to form for Sale is critical if the Red Sox are to compete for a playoff spot. He posted only a 4.40 ERA in 2019, nearly a full run higher than his previous career-worst mark. Of course, Sale’s peripherals tell a different story. His 35.6% strikeout rate trailed only Gerrit Cole’s 39.9% mark (minimum 100 innings). Sale’s 6.1% walk rate, too, was much better than average. Even with an uptick in home runs to a career-worst 1.47/9, Sale’s 3.39 FIP was among the top 20 in the league.
He, Eduardo Rodríguez, and Nathan Eovaldi will lead a rotation with a fair bit of upside but ample uncertainty. A healthy, productive season from Sale is all the more important in the wake of the recent Mookie Betts/David Price trade.