A year after fielding one of the worst pitching staffs in franchise history, the Red Sox arms have turned a corner in 2021. They’ve allowed 4.10 runs per game so far this season, the fourth-best in the American League. Now, there’s a chance that group could get a major boost at some point later this season.
Speaking with the media before Monday’s game against the Miami Marlins, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters pitcher Chris Sale has joined the team in Boston for their eight-game homestand. Sale had been in Fort Myers, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he had in March of 2020.
“Things are trending up,” Cora said of Sale, who was spotted throwing in the outfield at Fenway before the game. Sale threw off a mound for the first time since the surgery last month. He’s been throwing mostly bullpen sessions so far, but “could face hitters soon” according to Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic.
Sale’s 2021 debut isn’t exactly imminent, with the most optimistic projections placing his return around the July 30 trade deadline. Still, getting Sale back for any duration of time would be a major development for a team has seems to have proven they’ll be a factor down the stretch.
The Red Sox could place Sale back in the starting rotation, or use him out of the bullpen to lessen the strain on his elbow. The 32-year-old spent the first two seasons of his career as a reliever for the Chicago White Sox.
Last time Sale pitched in the majors was 2019, when he recorded a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts. He seemingly dealt with an injury for most of that season. In 2018 he was a Cy Young finalist, with a 12-4 record and career-best 2.11 ERA.