The Red Sox are preparing to start the 2020 season with their ace on the injured list. Interim manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Thursday that Chris Sale has been ruled out for Opening Day and is likely to begin the season on the injured list.
Now, before panic sets in from Red Sox nation, let's point out this isn't due to an arm injury. In fact, Sale doesn't appear to be injured at all. Per Roenicke, Sale had the flu and pneumonia right before spring training started and it set his training schedule behind. Roenicke said he wants all his starters to have six outings in the spring and Sale doesn't have time to get that done.
Sale, 30, is coming off the worst year of his career. After finishing in the top six of Cy Young voting seven straight years, he was 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA. He still struck out 218 hitters in 147 1/3 innings and sported a 3.39 FIP and 1.09 WHIP, so it's not exactly like we could say it was a bad season. It was simply not up to Sale's lofty standards.
The lefty started slow out of the gate in 2019 and had diminished velocity before putting things back together (roughly mid-April through mid-to-late June) and then fell apart again. His last start was Aug. 13 before he was shut down with left elbow inflammation.
The good news here is the Red Sox haven't indicated any issue with Sale's elbow.
The Red Sox rotation without Sale -- and after having traded David Price -- looks a bit thin. Eduardo Rodriguez figures to be the Opening Day starter followed by Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez. Matt Hall and Hector Velazquez would fill out the five if Sale starts the season on the injured list.