Why latest Chris Sale news was so important to Red Sox

Rob Bradford
December 02, 2019 - 9:34 am
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Between another Sunday of football and travel back from Thanksgiving visits it would be understandable if the Chris Sale news escaped your attention. But its importance shouldn't be understated.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom told WEEI.com Sunday that Sale had made the long-anticipated follow-up visit to Dr. James Andrews the week leading up to Thanksgiving and was told he could immediately start a throwing program that targets hitting the ground running when it comes to spring training.

It was a better late than never scenario for Sale and the Red Sox.

While some were left wondering if the delay in heading to Pensacola, Fla. should be a cause for concern -- (he was originally slated to visit Dr. Andrews six weeks after receiving a PRP injection in August) -- the news should have been music to the Red Sox' ears. It would seem that as of now the elbow inflammation that shut the lefty down after his Aug. 13 start is not going to put 2020 in doubt.

For the Red Sox' fortunes heading into the new season, this was a huge step in the right direction.

As much of the conversation regarding the likes of Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, second base, first base and even the bullpen dominate the offseason discussion, whether or not the 2020 Red Sox will be able to keep pace with the American League heavies most likely hinges on the health and production of its top-paid starting pitchers.

The Red Sox have built the foundation of their team in a similar fashion as both the world champion Nationals and American League title-holding Astros -- committing significant resources to the top of their rotation. The combination of Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi make up $79 million of the team's payroll (around 38 percent of the whole ball of wax assuming the Sox' land at $208 million).

The equation clearly didn't work in 2019 with the Red Sox going a combined 27-42 in games the trio started.

So while it's difficult to suggest the results are going to do an about-face in 2020, especially considering neither Price or Sale made a start after Sept. 1 due to their respective ailments, this Sale news was a much-needed step in the right direction. That doesn't mean there won't be breath-holding even if Sale comes back looking like his old self. The same for Price and Eovaldi. But at a time the Red Sox seem in an uncomfortable state of flux, this offers some optimism that wasn't necessarily around as recently as a few weeks ago.