Red Sox ace Chris Sale has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss his next start, which was scheduled for Sunday, the team has told reporters (including Chad Jennings of The Athletic). This comes with the Red Sox in the midst of both a furious fight for an AL wild card spot and a widespread outbreak of the virus that has impacted the clubhouse for weeks.
Before Sale, the Red Sox had eight players on the COVID injury list, including starter Nick Pivetta and pitcher Martín Pérez. The only remaining members of the current rotation are Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck and Eduardo Rodríguez. Kutter Crawford and Brad Peacock have recently made disastrous spot starts and it wouldn't be ideal if the Red Sox had to head down that path again.
In the meantime, whatever team the Red Sox are able to field is tasked with holding a playoff spot. The current AL wild card field -- with the top two teams getting in -- is as follows:
Sale, 32, is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 30 strikeouts against six walks in 25 innings this season since returning from Tommy John surgery in August. Sale missed all of the 2020 season following the surgery.
Sale is at least the 10th Red Sox player to test positive in recent weeks. Boston outfielder Hunter Renfroe said Thursday that MLB told the team to stop testing during the outbreak, but MLB denied that claim.
The Red Sox begin a tough road trip Friday, facing the White Sox in Chicago for three games before heading to Seattle for three games in a pivotal series with wild card implications against the Mariners. The positive Sale test means he'll miss a matchup against his former White Sox team on Sunday.
As for the rotation, Eovaldi started on Thursday, so Houck is set for Friday. Rodríguez could go Sunday on regular rest in Sale's place. The Red Sox would still need to find a starter for Saturday, then.