BOSTON — The history with Chris Sale is clear: he prefers extra rest. The Red Sox are doing that once again, and they're wise to.
Ignoring the amount of time off before his very start of the season, Sale this year has made 16 starts on a standard four days rest. Ten other starts have come with either five or six days rest.
This will wind up as the first year Sale makes more starts on regular rest than extra, but the Sox are looking to balance things out a little more.
"Our rotation will get an extra day this turn through," manager John Farrell said. "And it's likely he [Sale] gets an extra day the next two turns, with Monday being an off day as well [as Thursday]. The wild card in all of this is there's some potential for some weather coming in here towards the ends of this series against Toronto. We'll see how that may affect all of us going forward."
With the Red Sox off Thursday, that puts Sale's next scheduled start Saturday vs. the Rays at home. He could then face the Rays again on Friday, Sept. 15, on the road. There's one more Sox off-day remaining, on Sept. 21, for a total of three left in the regular season.
Could increased command be the gain for Sale? A less tired body should add up to better body control and therefore a better ability to spot pitches.
"I think he’s such a good athlete, to me, he’s the type of pitcher that, the additional days of rest, let’s say he’s pitching on the seventh day, I don’t think it negatively affects him," Farrell said."But then you look at last night, I think that there were 70 percent strikes thrown. Were there a lot of foul balls? Yes, there were. Were there a lot of pitches that just missed? Yeah, it was a tight strike zone he was pitching to last night. We know the added days of rest given the innings pitched so far this year will be a boost."
In 2016, Sale made 13 starts on regular rest and 18 with extra. In 2015, it was 12 and 18. Through each full season as a starter, the story has been the same.
After making his All-Star Game start this year, Sale said he has a little more incentive to dominate this year as the season winds down.
“I think just a little bit more focus,” Sale said of what made him successful in 2016's second half. “I think preparation in between starts, the things that get you fresh, ready to go out there the fifth day. Obviously, we’re in a pretty good position. I think this year I’ll have a little more incentive. There will be a little bit more on the line. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to that."