By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
To steal a phrase from Boston sports talk radio maven WEEI’s Glenn Ordway, are you “a-scared” Red Sox fans now that staff ace – and likely the key to capping a season for the ages with a World Series title – Chris Sale has found his way to the disabled list for the second time in less than a week?
If you aren’t, you should be.
The #RedSox today placed LHP Chris Sale on the 10-day disabled list with mild left shoulder inflammation, retroactive to Wednesday, August 15. To fill Sale’s spot on the 25-man roster, the club recalled RHP Brandon Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) August 18, 2018
When he has been healthy enough to take the hill to start a game for the Sox this season, Sale has been the equivalent of a horror movie for opposing batters. His 1.97 ERA leads the American League, and his 219 strikeouts are tied with Houston’s Gerrit Cole in the Junior Circuit, even though the Astros starter has thrown 13.2 more innings (159.2 to 146.0, respectively) than the currently ailing Sox southpaw has tossed.
And while Sale’s first trip to the DL was openly mocked – including in this space – as a Pedro Martinez-esque midseason scheduled vacation, his quick shutdown following a dominant five-inning return against a bad Orioles team in Baltimore earlier in the week – in which he struck out 12 of the 16 batters he faced – has to leave even the stoutest Red Sox optimist scratching their head.
Although professional Sox cheerleader Jared Carrabis took to Twitter to pooh-pooh the latest setback for the Sox best starter, Curt Schilling – who regardless of your political persuasion, his 20 years as a professional pitcher should carry more weight than a guy who got famous for wanting to share a bunk bed with David Price – was quick to point out that where there is smoke, there is typically fire.
@SteveDeaceShow I said it two weeks ago, there is NO SUCH THING as an inflammed shoulder. It is either A) They have NO idea what the problem actually is and/or B) They do NOT want to panic the world by telling you exactly what it is. If I am betting I out huge money on A.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) August 18, 2018
“Just a little bit more of the same [symptoms in the shoulder from] the last episode we had,” said Sale when addressing the media about his situation on Saturday. “Just trying to stay on top of things and get it better.”
“When I started throwing again, [the shoulder] just kind of didn’t respond the way we wanted it to. [It] didn’t really bounce back the way we wanted it…just kind of adjust and kind of map things out and see where it takes us,” the Sox staff ace added.
When it comes to the bigger picture, winning games in October, Sale seemed to by in, saying, “Yeah, no doubt. We’ve still got a lot of season left. We don’t want to overlook that. At the same time, we want to be able to kind of sprint across the finish line — not limp into it.
“Like I said, [it’s] bad timing, obviously. Anybody who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of what’s going on right now, but it is what it is. You deal with it, keep your chin up, put one foot in front of the other and just keep grinding.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora – who has his club on pace to set a franchise record for wins in his rookie campaign – may be able to calmly address the situation now by saying, “It was taking him a while after the start. We know where we’re at right now not only as an organization but with the individual. We have to take care of him. This guy’s very important to what we’re trying to accomplish. And if he needs to skip one, two, three, we’re willing to do that. He feels better than the last time we put him on the DL. So he’ll get his rest, he’ll go through treatment. We’ll go from there.” Things quickly speed up when the calendar flips to September, not to mention October.
While many Sox fans thought that their biggest concerns entering the playoffs this fall focused on what David Price would provide or how the backend of the bullpen would respond under pressure, adding Sale’s seemingly frail left shoulder approaching the most important part of the season just might be the thing that keeps the best regular season baseball team in Boston from obtaining their ultimate goal.
A World Series Championship.