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Remember Chris Sale? Yeah, we didn’t think so. But he was once an All-Star left-handed pitcher, one of the best in the game.
And now he’s back.
It’s true, as the Boston Red Sox officially reinstated Sale from the 60-day injured list. He will start, albeit with a closely monitored pitch count, Saturday vs. the Baltimore Orioles.
The move ends Sale’s two seasons of being somewhere other than standing atop an MLB mound. More specifically, Sale last pitched on Aug. 13, 2019. He was then abruptly shut down with elbow inflammation. Less than a year after that, he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Before all this, Sale was The Man in pitching circles. From 2012-19, he threw 1,535 1/3 innings and compiled an ERA of 3.05 to go with 1,896 strikeouts. His 42.8 fWAR during that stretch was third in all of baseball, training only Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw.
Of course, that was pre-reconstructive elbow surgery. How will he far now?
Let’s turn to Darragh McDonald of MLB Trade Rumors for some spot-on analysis.
“If Sale is even half as good as that elite level, he’ll provide a huge boost to a Red Sox rotation that has been floundering of late,” McDonald wrote Saturday afternoon. “Martin Perez and Garrett Richards have been moved to the bullpen because of their recent struggles, leaving the club with a three-man rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez. (Tanner Houck was recalled to start on Thursday but then optioned to Triple-A the next day.)
“The club has gone on a cold streak of late, surrendering the AL East lead to the Rays, but still holding onto the second AL Wild Card spot, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees.”
All of this is true. But for Sale and the Red Sox, it will undoubtedly consist of baby steps. The first one of those, finally, has now taken place.