Sale has spent more than a year recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he’s reportedly almost ready to come back.
"It's a beautiful sight."
— NESN (@NESN) June 8, 2021
Sale should be able to return at some point this summer, and when he does, this Red Sox team will get a huge boost.
The lefty has managed a 3.08 ERA, 2.57 FIP, and 0.97 WHIP over his three seasons with Boston.
When we last saw him in 2019, he struggled to a 4.40 ERA, but his 3.39 FIP that season suggests that he was much better than the ERA implies.
Sale finished in the top-six of the Cy Young race every season from 2012-18.
It’s safe to say the Red Sox have missed the guy.
Upon his return, Boston will need to make some roster moves.
These two roster tweaks would make the most sense.
2. Trade Or Release Matt Andriese
The Matt Andriese experiment hasn’t exactly worked out in Boston.
The Red Sox took a flyer on the 31-year-old prior to the season with a one-year deal, but he’s struggled greatly.
Andriese entered Tuesday with a 5.11 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 1.74 WHIP, and -0.3 WAR over 18 appearances.
The righty hasn’t been trusted with many high-leverage situations.
Andriese has never really been able to find his footing at the MLB level—he’s never finished a season with an ERA below 4.00 over his seven-year career.
It has been 8 days since Matt Andriese last pitched in a game. He is clearly at the bottom of the bullpen depth chart along with Brandon Workman. #RedSox
— Josh Torres (@JoshTorres_12) June 8, 2021
With Andriese’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the Red Sox could potentially attempt to trade him at the deadline (although the return would be minimal), but if not, they may have to release him in order to open up a roster spot.
1. Move A Starting Pitcher To The Bullpen
A move like this would only be necessary if Sale returns as a starter.
There has been some speculation that Sale could end up as a relief option when he comes back.
If he does join the rotation, however, the Red Sox will have to move a starter to the bullpen (unless they decide to roll with a six-man staff).
Statistically, Eduardo Rodriguez has been the worst starter in the Boston rotation this season.
He has a 5.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and -0.1 WAR.
It seems like the Red Sox would rather not move the young lefty to the bullpen, though, given his strong track record as a starter.
If it’s not Rodriguez, then Garrett Richards could be a bullpen candidate.
Richards has been extremely solid as a starter, but he has struggled to go deep into games at times.
He’s completed six innings in just five of his 12 starts.
The 33-year-old has a 3.88 ERA on the year, so he could serve as a very reliable bullpen option if that’s the direction the Red Sox choose to go.
Richards wouldn’t be the first player to fall victim to a demotion due to Boston’s exceptionally deep rotation this season—if you recall, Tanner Houck was optioned to the minors for the same reason despite some really strong showings earlier in the year.NEXT: Ranking Top 3 Boston Red Sox Stars Under 26 Years Old