Sale's Return - When and in What Capacity?

Bertha

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I am often irrationally excited about Sox positive news. I grabbed tickets for Portland Sunday, solely due to said excitement to see his rehab start up close. Only GA remained through official site. Secondary market had a healthy markup for a minor league game (and for obvious supply/demand reasons).
 

Niastri

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It is so like this board to celebrate the return of a World Series Hero and potential ace starter with a relitigation of not only his contract but two other guys from fifteen years ago.

Chris Sale is on the way back people, and he still throws gas and unholy breaking stuff.
When Sale goes into the HoF in a Red Sox uniform, some SoSHer somewhere will be saying

"But about that contract, though...!"
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Sale struck out 9 in 3.2 innings this afternoon in Portland. 6 hits including a HR, no walks, 1 HBP and 2 runs on 64 pitches. Got into and out of a bases loaded jam in the third, and left after giving up a double (who ended up scoring) with two down in the fourth.

I'm guessing that they have the series in Toronto (8/6-8/8) circled as his targeted return (particularly with a make-up doubleheader on Saturday), with one more rehab start this Friday or Saturday.
 

allmanbro

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I feel like some people are secretely expecting the wheels to come off these Red Sox at any point because otherwise the adition of a halfway healthy Chris Sale to a contender at this point in the season is as exciting as it gets. He was already instrumental in winning a championship, if he contributes even a little to a run at another one who cares what his contract is?
I'll definitely admit that I had been hesitant to go all-in on excitement for this team, but at this point it seems pretty undeniable. And my biggest worry - the rotation falling apart - is hugely mitigated by a healthy Sale.


A couple notes on yesterday's start: His velocity was a bit down from the first one in Portland. I think 96 was the hardest I saw, but he was mostly 92-94 with the fastball. A few of the hits were hard-hit, and most (maybe all?) of these were slower fastballs the stadium clocked at 91-92. The slider was unhittable, and got most of the whiffs, of which there were a lot, and a lot of really bad looking swings. So the velocity is maybe less exciting than it had been, but the continued good control and the outstanding slider, along with the increasing pitch count are all reasons to remain excited.
 

RIrooter09

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I do worry about the velocity dip. As we saw previously, Sale with a low 90s fastball can be very hittable.
 

Apisith

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Is this like spring training where his velocity will climb as he pitches more and regains stamina? What’s the normal timeframe for regaining max velocity post-TJ surgery?

I know Darvish has said that in his first season back from TJ that his velocity fluctuated. Some games he would be up at his normal range and some games or innings he would be quite a bit lower. This was in reference to Ohtani whose fastball velocity is also fluctuating a lot this season.
 

Apisith

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Not sure if it’s still relevant but in ‘18 and ‘19, Sale’s fastball velocity showed a steep increase as the season wore on. But no increase for the few seasons before those two. Will be a lot more confident if can still sit 93-95mph, and hit 97mph if required.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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I am often irrationally excited about Sox positive news. I grabbed tickets for Portland Sunday, solely due to said excitement to see his rehab start up close. Only GA remained through official site. Secondary market had a healthy markup for a minor league game (and for obvious supply/demand reasons).
What’s wrong with GA? At Hadlock, those are great seats.
 

mr_smith02

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As the trade deadline passes, and the Sox didn't go all-in on a huge move, I am wondering if the FO might be thinking Sale won't contribute as much as we are all hoping down the stretch. What is the most recent update on Sale's progress?
 

OurF'ingCity

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As the trade deadline passes, and the Sox didn't go all-in on a huge move, I am wondering if the FO might be thinking Sale won't contribute as much as we are all hoping down the stretch. What is the most recent update on Sale's progress?
Of course, one could draw the exact opposite conclusion as well.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Absolutely...That's why I was asking if anyone here might have more insight on Sale's progress. Him coming back is one thing, him coming back in true Sale form is another.
By all reports from his rehab assignments and bullpen sessions, he's looked very, very good. Certainly there hasn't been anything to indicate that he's not going to be some semblence of Chris Sale when he comes back. He might not be peak Sale, but as long as he doesn't have a physical setback/injury, he should still be a significant upgrade to what they've gotten from Richards or Perez of late.
 

JimM

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He is done after 5, gave up a run and some hard contact in the 4th. Slider looked good and threw some nice changeups. Would have been more runs but Matheny pulled a HR back in the 4th. The gun had him around 92-93 later in the game.
 

RoDaddy

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His walk totals have also been very low so yet another good sign in addition to the high strikeouts and increasing pitch count. We'll have to see about velocity but otherwise, the rehab couldn't be going any better
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

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Bring up Sale for game 2 then. One less game that Richards will start. By my estimation, he's slated for Sunday. Sale on Saturday would bump Pivetta to Sunday and Richards to oblivion, hopefully.
I was listening to Merloni talking about the start, and he said that Sale was somewhat wild with the fastball early, lost some velocity late, and there was plenty of hard contact. I don't think one start at AAA to monitor things is a bad idea, as eager as I may be.
 

soxin6

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While one more rehab start makes sense, could Sale really be any worse than what the Red Sox starting staff has been doing lately? Houck and Sale both need to be in the rotation immediately and Cora needs to figure out what happens to Perez, Richards, and Pivetta. At least one of them is out for now and likely two. Based on what we have seen lately, I am not sure that any of them stand out as a pitcher that should stay in the rotation.
 

cantor44

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80 pitches per the NESN Sox broadcast. Not sure why he needs another minor league outing assuming he feels good tomorrow and Monday.
I can see why another outing might bring him more command of his pitches. But for fuckssake the organization has taken a passive stance in these crucial couple of weeks of the season with so much head-to-head against TB, NY, and TOR: Adding a rehab start for Sale, skipping a start for Houck, and trading for a guy who couldn't join the team for 2-3 weeks (and not adding an arm) ...Passive at the exact moment they needed to be aggressive. Wish they stepped on the gas, and maybe still can by allowing Sale's next start to be with the big club.
 

cantor44

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While one more rehab start makes sense, could Sale really be any worse than what the Red Sox starting staff has been doing lately? Houck and Sale both need to be in the rotation immediately and Cora needs to figure out what happens to Perez, Richards, and Pivetta. At least one of them is out for now and likely two. Based on what we have seen lately, I am not sure that any of them stand out as a pitcher that should stay in the rotation.
Pivetta has the best stuff of the three it seems to me, but none of them are all that good. One stays in the rotation, one goes to the pen, and one will have to be DFAd ...
 

greek_gawd_of_walks

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I know this has been debated a lot already, but count me as someone who sees no benefit to another rehab start for Sale. At this point, it's not about his health. It's at a juncture of dire need to reinforce a rotation choking on its own vomit. Unless Sale wants another rehab (work on maintaining velocity, maybe?), there's no reason he can't go four innings at the big league level this week. Even if it's just four innings, it may be high quality pitching for the duration. Plus a huge lift for the team to see him back on the mound. Not to mention SoSH.
 
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cantor44

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While one more rehab start makes sense, could Sale really be any worse than what the Red Sox starting staff has been doing lately? Houck and Sale both need to be in the rotation immediately and Cora needs to figure out what happens to Perez, Richards, and Pivetta. At least one of them is out for now and likely two. Based on what we have seen lately, I am not sure that any of them stand out as a pitcher that should stay in the rotation.
The FO is not operating with urgency right now. I full well appreciate the "marathon not a sprint" nature of baseball. But at a certain point you gotta throttle up, and at precisely that point the Sox seemed to have done the opposite (adding a rehab start for Sale, dropping Houck down for a start when the starting pitching is terrible, not adding any quality pitching via trade, and making your biggest trade for a guy who may not make his team debut for 2-4 weeks). It's perplexing, and I think it may be a bit of a demerit on what I assume will be a largely successful tenure for Bloom.

We may well overestimate the impact this has on players psychologically. Though Xander has spoke up a bit about needing reinforcements and needing a win, etc. If your front office is passive while you're both in the thick of it AND fraying a bit, in clear need of a boost, well, that can't be inspiring ...
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The FO is not operating with urgency right now. I full well appreciate the "marathon not a sprint" nature of baseball. But at a certain point you gotta throttle up, and at precisely that point the Sox seemed to have done the opposite (adding a rehab start for Sale, dropping Houck down for a start when the starting pitching is terrible, not adding any quality pitching via trade, and making your biggest trade for a guy who may not make his team debut for 2-4 weeks). It's perplexing, and I think it may be a bit of a demerit on what I assume will be a largely successful tenure for Bloom.

We may well overestimate the impact this has on players psychologically. Though Xander has spoke up a bit about needing reinforcements and needing a win, etc. If your front office is passive while you're both in the thick of it AND fraying a bit, in clear need of a boost, well, that can't be inspiring ...
They're not adding a rehab start. This was their plan all along. You can argue that they should cut the rehab short of its planned length, but they're not changing gears at all here.
 

Saints Rest

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If I were Bloom and Cora, I would find out from Sale what he wants. He knows his own body and mind better than anyone. What will put him in the best position to contribute over the last 8 weeks of the season, plus playoffs: another rehab start or beginning with the big club?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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If I were Bloom and Cora, I would find out from Sale what he wants. He knows his own body and mind better than anyone. What will put him in the best position to contribute over the last 8 weeks of the season, plus playoffs: another rehab start or beginning with the big club?
From what I saw, Sale is actually pretty jazzed to make the bus trip with the WooSox. As in, he's not just flying into Scranton on Friday night or Saturday morning to make his next start, he's traveling with the team starting today.
“You can bet your (expletive) I’m getting on that bus with the guys on Monday,” Sale told reporters on Saturday.
Herald last night
I'm sure it's a bit of a front and if given the choice, he'd pick pitching in Toronto over Scranton. But he doesn't seem to be upset about one more rehab start either.
 

lexrageorge

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The Sox will be paying Sale a lot of cash for the next 3 seasons. Any sort of injury or setback at this point will cost Sale the rest of this season at least. I refuse to criticize the front office for prioritizing a successful rehab over a single game in August.
 

geoduck no quahog

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That means 9-10 starts, right?

If the Red Sox can re-establish an ability to score runs, that should be good for, say, 6 wins.

45 starts from others. Get 22 wins out of that.

That's a 91-win season.

The Yankees would need to go 35-23 to knock the Sox out of the wild card in that scenario. Jays: 37-23
 

NYCSox

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That 35-23 will look a lot easier to achieve after this week when they clean out the AAA team in Baltimore and a DOA Mariners team.

But I’d still give him one more rehab start.
 

BaseballJones

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Their last 16 games, all against quality division opponents (7 vs NY, 6 vs Tor, 3 vs TB), the Sox went 8-8. Their next 25 games include:

- 3 at Det
- 10 vs quality division opponents (3 at NY, 4 at Tor, 3 vs TB)
- 3 vs Tex
- 3 vs Min
- 3 at Cle
- 3 vs Bal

Detroit has been pretty good lately so 2-1 would be fine there. If they can go 5-5 against the quality opponents and go 8-4 against the other four iffy teams, that would make for a 15-10 stretch, which wouldn't be bad at all. Hopefully they can squeeze out a couple more wins in there and maybe go 17-8. Don't want to go much less than 15-10 though.
 

koufax37

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I don't think there is a medically significant reason to differentiate a start in Worcester and a start in Fenway at this point in Sale's recovery. I also think he is deep enough into his pitch count and arsenal and stuff that his in game approach wouldn't be different from a stepping stone, what I'm working on perspective.

So the decision on where he makes his next appearance(s) comes down to a number of factors:

1) The chances of him performing in the game (win % and innings before the bullpen) compared to the replacement option
2) The psychological impact of getting him back for the team (and similarly the difference in getting him back at 90% vs 95% or whatever if he were to return an extra start early, and his return isn't as dominant as it could be later)
3) The psychology of a pitcher returning from a major injury, who has never known how to back off, come out of a game an inning early, and is a ferocious competitor.

If we were operating robots and were focused only on #1 and not on 2 and 3, I would definitely have opted to bring him back sooner, let him have an opener game, pitch 3 or 4 with a piggy back, and pitch 5 or 6 when he can, as I think he is good enough to add real value over the bottom of our rotation before he is 100% locked in and ready to strike out 12 in 7 shutout innings. Over and over my rational analytic self things that his starts in the minors are starting to be a luxury that reduces our chances of winning the division.

But I think the FO and Cora are likely much more dialed in to the impacts of 2 and 3, and that rehabbing on the job, even if it is more technical value than innings from our #5, likely would have offsetting impacts harder to measure, and they want to be patient and get him back to 100% where they don't need the deflating moment of pulling him after four innings down 4-1. So while Analytically I think moving some of his minor league innings to the major leagues would improve our team performance, I respect the delicate balance and am excited to tune in whenever he is ready to deal.
 

jon abbey

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FWIW NY is even more desperate for SPs with 7 guys currently out (!) but they also are not speeding up the timetable for Severino or Clarke Schmidt.
 

cantor44

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If I were Bloom and Cora, I would find out from Sale what he wants. He knows his own body and mind better than anyone. What will put him in the best position to contribute over the last 8 weeks of the season, plus playoffs: another rehab start or beginning with the big club?
this is probably the most wise, yes ... and maybe in fact what's happening despite my fan's impatience.
 

Sandman5756

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The only thing I am worried about with Sale is that he keeps taking a large number of pitches to get through a relatively small number of innings. (Too many Sox pitchers tend to do that, especially against teams in our division.)

Would he be more valuable giving us two innings every three days to provide a bridge from decent 4 2/3 inning starts to relief from our reliable relievers, or as a starter who might only go five innings every five days but will be totally effective in those innings?

I think that is the key question.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The only thing I am worried about with Sale is that he keeps taking a large number of pitches to get through a relatively small number of innings. (Too many Sox pitchers tend to do that, especially against teams in our division.)

Would he be more valuable giving us two innings every three days to provide a bridge from decent 4 2/3 inning starts to relief from our reliable relievers, or as a starter who might only go five innings every five days but will be totally effective in those innings?

I think that is the key question.
GOD FUCKING NO. I want him starting with the chance to go 6-7 innings every five days, not piecemeal relieving. That's Whitlock's job (which he's doing quite well).
 

Sandman5756

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GOD FUCKING NO. I want him starting with the chance to go 6-7 innings every five days, not piecemeal relieving. That's Whitlock's job (which he's doing quite well).
I want him doing that too, but he has been going between three and five innings most days. And you are right about Whitlock. Thank God for him. Great to steal him from NYY and to give him the opportunity to succeed. They have protected him in exactly the way the ought to have been protecting Dalbec.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I want him doing that too, but he has been going between three and five innings most days. And you are right about Whitlock. Thank God for him. Great to steal him from NYY and to give him the opportunity to succeed. They have protected him in exactly the way the ought to have been protecting Dalbec.
When? Sale has been rehabbing and slowly building his pitch count. I don't think we should read anything into how deep into games he's pitching in Portland or Worcester. It's like judging a pitcher on his spring training outings...useless.
 

RedOctober3829

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I don't get it. Starting him on normal rest gets him Rays then Yankees. Even starting him on Friday gets him the Yankees on normal rest. I don't get being conservative at this stage, we need our best pitchers against the best teams.
It’s in the best interest of Sale’s health to be conservative with him at this point in his comeback.