The southpaw, out all year with a stress fracture in his right rib cage, pitched on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays and aced the test.
He conceded just three hits, walked one, and struck out five over five scoreless innings in the no-decision.
Overall, he left a very good impression, certainly better than his last minor league start last week in which he walked five and tore Worcester’s clubhouse apart in rage.
His fastball velocity is almost all the way back, as he touched 97 mph in his first start since October 3, 2021.
While his swing-and-miss stuff wasn’t all the way back, his command appeared to have taken a step forward in comparison to last week’s start.
He pounded the zone with fastballs, sliders, and changeups.
Sale Feels Better Than Ever
While the Rays are certainly a quality team, Sale’s stuff, poise, and command will be tested on Sunday against the New York Yankees.
“Chris Sale on his night tonight: ‘I’m not broken anymore… It’s different this year. It’s definitely different this year,'” Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com tweeted, quoting the star left-hander.
Chris Sale on his night tonight: "I’m not broken anymore… It’s different this year. It’s definitely different this year."
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) July 13, 2022
Let’s remember that Sale was coming back from Tommy John surgery last year.
He pitched 42.2 innings and left a decent 3.16 ERA, but an uncharacteristically high 1.34 WHIP.
Pitchers usually struggle a bit in their first season back from Tommy John.
Now that he is fully recovered from that and the rib issue that plagued him to start the season, it can be a new beginning for Sale.
The Red Sox are certainly smiling, knowing that they may recover the best version of their ace or something close to it.
That version dominated the American League for years.