At this stage in the game, it will take a full-team effort for the Boston Red Sox to reach the postseason.
The Red Sox currently are 10 games back of first place in the American League East standings and three games back of the second wild-card spot. In addition to building some sort of momentum, Boston will need its superstars to play as such if the club has any hope of repeating as World Series champions.
Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez both are in the midst of All-Star seasons, while David Price has been the Red Sox’s most sure-handed arm. Chris Sale, meanwhile, has been awfully inconsistent in 2019, and ESPN seems to believe his performance the rest of the way could make or break Boston.
“Over his past four turns, Sale has struck out 30 batters and walked just six, but he’s also averaging 5 1/3 innings per start and has given up six homers and 19 runs,” Craig Edwards writes. “Last summer, Sale pitched just 29 second-half innings, but the Red Sox could afford to be cautious with their 2018 playoff spot secure. This season, every win could matter the rest of the way and they’ll need Sale at his best to earn a shot at defending their World Series title.”
Given his track record of struggling in the second half, the Red Sox altered their approach with Sale heading into this season, as the left-hander took on a very light workload in spring training. After a terrible start to the campaign, Sale enjoyed off-and-on success from late April to mid-June. But just when it seemed like he was rounding into form, Sale reverted back to uncharacteristic woes.
The pressure on Sale to turn things around is intensified by Boston’s bullpen, which has struggled to lock down games this season. While the return of Nathan Eovaldi should help alleviate this issue, Sale could provide the Red Sox a massive boost by stringing together quality starts. And given his unusually high number of short outings in 2019, Sale should have plenty left in the tank to go deep into ballgames on a start-by-start basis.
Boston manifested its confidence in Sale by signing him to a five-year extension before the regular season got underway. Now, it’s time for the star southpaw to hold up his end.