The biggest move of the Major League Baseball trade deadline may not have been a trade at all. Shortly after the deadline passed, the Boston Red Sox announced Chris Sale had been placed on the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation in his throwing arm.
The 29-year-old Sale has been the best pitcher in baseball this season according to fWAR. He has a 2.04 ERA over 141 innings and leads all starting pitchers in strikeout rate.
Chris Sale placed on disabled list with shoulder injury
If there’s good news here, it’s that the team doesn’t anticipate Sale will miss a lot of time. General manager Dave Dombrowski said the team believes Sale will miss one start.
Dombrowski says Sale will miss his next start vs the Yankees but they’re hopeful he’ll make the following start in Toronto but they won’t rush him. Thinks a changed grip on the slider this season *could* have caused it. Sale thought it was normal soreness but it wasn’t going away
— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) July 31, 2018
However, it’s possible it will take longer. Dombrowski said the team was “hopeful” Sale would return after missing just one start. He made sure to add that the Red Sox won’t rush their ace back.
Concern about Chris Sale’s shoulder injury
While Sale appears to have avoided a major injury, shoulder issues are no laughing matter with pitchers. Shoulder surgeries can ruin careers. There’s no indication Sale is injured to that point yet, but the team is wise to give him as much time as possible to return. It’s not worth the risk to rush him.
Chris Sale struggles in the second half
Over his career, Sale has seen his numbers get worse as the season has dragged on. Sale’s career ERAs in April, May, June and July are all under 3.00. In August and September, that number rises. Sale has a 3.78 ERA over 226 innings during the final month of the season. That would be acceptable for plenty of other pitchers, but it’s considered “struggling” compared to Sale’s usual standards.
In that sense, perhaps a short break from pitching might be beneficial. It could prevent some work-related regression that seems to hit Sale around this time every season. With that said, it’s always scary when a pitcher has a shoulder issue.
Even if this injury is mild, the Red Sox and Sale might want to exercise extra caution before he gets back on a mound. It’s better to play it safe with a pitcher as good as Sale.
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