Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale takes major step towards return

Saturday was supposed to be a key outing in Chris Sale‘s comeback from Tommy John surgery. The Boston Red Sox ace was expected to get close to the 80 pitch mark, likely leaving him an outing or two from a return to the majors. As he had relatively breezed through his rehab outings, Saturday’s outing was not expected to be much different.

Sale did hit one of his goals, getting to 81 pitches over his five innings of work. More importantly for his recovery, he needed to make adjustments, as his offerings started to get hit in the fourth inning. Sale started to dial back his velocity by choice, focusing more on spotting his pitches to keep the opposition off balance.

Chris Sale takes major step in returning to Boston Red Sox

Overall, his outing on Saturday was solid. He allowed just one run on five hits and a walk, striking out seven in his five innings of work. But it could have been worse, as he just missed giving up a homer in the fourth, and allowed some loud contact before making the adjustment to dial back his velocity.

For his part, Sale seemed to appreciate that need to adjust. He stated that, for the first time since he began his rehab, he felt like a pitcher again, having his “first real day of work” in years. Sale was able to throw all his pitches, change speeds, and show that he is almost at full strength.

That will be the key for the Red Sox. They did not do much at the trade deadline, acquiring Hansel Robles to shore up the bullpen and adding Kyle Schwarber to address the outfield. Anthony Rizzo, who was considered a top candidate for the Red Sox, went to the rival Yankees. Sale, essentially, is going to be their key deadline acquisition.

It is a lot of pressure to put on someone who has not pitched in the majors for two years. With the Red Sox and Rays battling for the AL East, Sale could easily be the difference maker, someone who determines which team ends up winning the division and which team is forced to play as a Wild Card.

Chris Sale has taken a major step in returning to the Boston Red Sox. As he was forced to make adjustments, he is back to feeling like a pitcher once more.