By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
With the Red Sox, maybe it’s really this simple: until Chris Sale starts winning again, they’re going nowhere.
The math is pretty simple, really. The Red Sox yesterday lost another game started by Sale, this one a 7-4 defeat to the Detroit Tigers in which Sale and the Sox failed to hold a 2-0 lead. A subsequent loss to Detroit in the nightcap of a doubleheader killed all momentum from Boston’s weekend sweep to the Tampa Bay Rays, who defeated Kansas City last night.
Those three games the Red Sox picked up on Tampa over the weekend? They gave half of that total back on the very next day.
Meanwhile, here’s the bigger picture: the Red Sox this season are now 9-10 when someone other than Sale is their starting pitcher and 0-5 in games started by their ace. Neither number is especially praiseworthy given what the Sox should be, but that 0-5 right now is the No. 1 reason they continue to stumble along as if blindfolded.
If the Sox were, say, 4-1 in Sale’s five starts – and that is an entirely reasonable goal given who he is and what they should be – their overall record would be 13-12 and we wouldn’t ever have been talking about historically bad starts.
“I at least gave my team a chance to win when I left the ballgame, but I’m still relying on my bullpen guys too much,” Sale told reporters after the game.
I at least gave my team a chance to win. Well that’s just great. Someone like Steven Wright can probably get away that standard, but not your ace. Can you imagine Pedro Martinez ever saying something like that? Or Jon Lester? Curt Schilling? Roger Clemens?
Sale knows this, of course. And he knows he’s the latest in a long line of kings who have headed the Boston rotation.
Fact: The ace makes all the difference. In 2017, the Red Sox were 22-10 when Sale started (a .688 winning percentage) and 71-59 when he did not (.546). Last year’s numbers obviously weren’t as dramatic, but let me know when the the Sox hit a 108-win pace again. And in a year like 1999, for example, the Red Sox record when Pedro Martinez pitched (26-5) was singularly what made them a playoff team. (They were 68-67 when he didn’t set foot on the mound.)
Here’s the point: Sale right now has the worst record in baseball of any pitcher in the game – starter, reliever, qualified or otherwise. He’s 0-4. The Red Sox are 0-5 in his starts.
If that doesn’t change, this team is going nowhere.