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Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale will miss the start of the 2022 MLB season due to a stress fracture in his ribcage, Sale and the team told reporters on Wednesday. As for any sort of timetable for the return of the lanky lefty, it's anyone's guess at this time. Sale himself said as much. 

Sale, 32, missed all of 2020 and most of 2021 following Tommy John surgery. He made it back for nine regular season starts last year, in which he was 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings. He was a mixed bag in three playoff starts, getting knocked around a few times but striking out seven in 5 1/3 quality innings in Game 5 of the ALCS. 

The Red Sox's rotation certainly looks stronger with Sale in it. The seven-time All-Star finished between second and sixth in AL Cy Young voting every single season from 2012-18, and was consistently one of the most reliable aces in the game. He was 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 2019, though he still struck out 218 compared to 37 walks in 147 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 FIP. 

Without Sale, the Red Sox can throw promising youngster Tanner Houck in the rotation behind Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha

The Red Sox were 92-70 last season, finishing tied for the two wild card spots with the Yankees. That was behind the Rays in the AL East and just one game ahead of the Blue Jays. All four teams are expected to contend in the AL East again this year.