Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom informed reporters on Tuesday morning that the team had suffered a brutal hit to their starting rotation. In speaking with the media, Bloom announced that seven-time All-Star Chris Sale has a stress fracture in his right rib cage, will be shut down from throwing for now and wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day.
When healthy, Sale is among the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball, particularly among southpaws. After spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Chicago White Sox, Sale was moved to Boston in a blockbuster trade in December 2016 in exchange for four players including then-prospects Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada.
Moncada has become a productive and powerful force in the White Sox lineup in recent years with 70 career home runs and 248 RBIs, while Kopech posted a breakout season in Chicago’s bullpen in 2021, registering a 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across 69.1 innings and striking out 103 batters.
Sale earned his seven All-Star nods across seven consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2018, finishing inside the top five in AL Cy Young voting in the final six years of the stretch. During his first season with the Red Sox in 2017, Sale was the AL Cy Young runner-up after going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP while leading the league in inning pitched (214.1) and strikeouts (a career-high 308) among other categories.
Among active pitchers, Sale is second only to Robbie Ray in career strikeouts per nine innings (11.08) and third in both ERA (3.03) and WHIP (1.04). The 32-year-old has a career 114-74 record with a 3.03 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 11 seasons, while registering 2,059 strikeouts over 1,672.1 inning pitched.
Though he was limited to 158 innings during the 2018 regular season, Sale came back healthy and strong to help lead the Red Sox to a World Series title that fall, striking out 24 batters in 15.1 innings. Mastrodonato also reported that on top of Sale’s injury, he is still unvaccinated against COVID-19, putting his availability for road games against the Toronto Blue Jays in serious jeopardy.