Chris Sale is closing in on his first big league start since Aug. 13, 2019. The lefty made his first rehab start in the Florida Complex League, and could not be any more excited to get back to the big leagues.
“I just talked to him,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He’s very excited. Going into the game, he felt good. During the game, he felt good. After the game, he felt good. Now, we have to wait until tomorrow and see how it goes but the plan is for him to go to Portland for next week.”
The 32-year-old is coming off Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the entire 2020 season. He was scheduled to throw only two innings on Thursday but felt good enough to return for a third frame. Sale allowed zero runs on four hits and zero walks while striking out five batters in the start.
Sale’s fastball reportedly reached up to 94-MPH, and his changeup and slider improved as he grew comfortable. His next step will be to pitch at least five innings for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Sox’s Double-A team.
The midseason return of Sale could be a huge return for the Red Sox. Their rotation has been held together by All-Star Nathan Eovaldi who has a 9-5 record, 3.66 ERA, and 99 strikeouts in 18 starts. But, behind Eovaldi, the rotation has been suspect.
Boston currently sits in first place in the American League East. The Tampa Bay Rays are only 1.5 games behind them, and the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays sit eight games back. Sale could be the added boost to capture the division for Boston.