The Boston Red Sox starting rotation might not feature Chris Sale when he’s ready to come back — at least not initially.
Sale’s long, extended rehab process has not been as clean as the Red Sox would have liked — so much so that they’re considering bringing him back in a limited capacity, rather than as his usual ace self.
There’s no question that when healthy, Sale belongs at the top of the Boston starting rotation. That will not change with time. However, considering where things stand and the fact that Sale’s rehab could keep him out even longer were Boston attached to his role as a starting pitcher, the Sox might try something different.
Chris Sale, relief pitcher?
Red Sox could bring Chris Sale back as relief pitcher
Per The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, bringing Sale back as a reliever is not entirely out of the question.
“We have to get to a point where he’s facing hitters in a live game situation before we really look at that too much,” Dave Bush said, per Jennings. “That being said, I think everything is on the table at this point. If it suits him and us for him to come back sooner and in fewer innings and we have a bullpen that’s capable of absorbing the extra innings, then maybe that’s an option.”
The Red Sox have options with Sale coming back. Garrett Whitlock’s move to the starting rotation hasn’t gone as planned, so they could move Sale back to the rotation. But as previously mentioned, that would extend his rehab process.
Instead, Boston could bring Sale back sooner in a limited bullpen role. Doing so would give them more roster flexibility and another dependable arm at the back end of their ‘pen. Whitlock would remain in the rotation for the time being with more time to adjust.
Either way, having Sale back in the equation would be a welcome sight for a Sox pitching staff that could use an upgrade.