With the way people were talking about the Red Sox ahead of this season, you would have thought people in Boston would be staring at the calendar until Chris Sale’s return.
They are, of course. Just not as impatiently, as the Red Sox’s rotation has risen above expectations this season.
Nick Pivetta and Nathan Eovaldi have been spectacular, while Martín Pérez owned the starting staff’s lowest ERA (3.09) entering Tuesday. Garrett Richards turned things around after a tough start, and though he’s struggled recently, Eduardo Rodriguez is touted as Boston’s ace.
According to the Sale, he’s certain he’ll throw in a game before the season ends. But where will he fit into the rotation?
Of course, that depends on how everyone is throwing upon Sale’s return, including himself. He hadn’t thought about first coming out of the bullpen to get his feet wet until the pitcher was asked about it in Tuesday’s media availability, but Sale seemed more than open to the idea.
“Well I never thought about that honestly,” Sale told reporters over Zoom. “Like if they told me, ‘Hey, we need a guy in the bullpen and we’ll build you up there instead of doing a rehab assignment,’ hell, I would be game for that. I mean, the quicker I can get back on this team I’d like that. But that is way above my pay grade and where I’m at right now. I’m focused on my next day and getting off the mound and then whatever the next step is, take that, but I haven’t really talked about that a whole lot.”
It’s not the worst idea if Boston faces a similar pitching situation whenever Sale is ready. Especially with how important Major League Baseball bullpens have been this season as teams try to limit and protect their pitchers from injury following a 2020 season that didn’t see as much work.
But if Sale all of a sudden comes back and looks like his old self, going deep into games and recording a silly amount of strikeouts, this is a different conversation.
Realistically, though, the idea of any of these starters handing a close game off to Sale to bridge the gap to Matt Barnes? Not that bad.