Red Sox

Sale unlikely for Game 4; Red Sox consider how to avoid future fatigue

Sale unlikely for Game 4; Red Sox consider how to avoid future fatigue

HOUSTON — Chris Sale does not look likely to pitch in a potential Game 4 of the ALDS, even if the Red Sox are facing potential elimination.

“Hundred pitches thrown yesterday, I would think he’s probably Game 5 availability first,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “So that would be my thought initially.

“It’s not being – I’m not squelching [the possibility]. But what we’re seeing throughout the month, we’ve got to factor all that in.”

The Red Sox do appear to believe fatigue is driving Sale’s loss of release point. Combined with how Sale looked in Game 1, and the motivation to use him in Game 4 appears to lessen.

“Because of his arm slot, he’s going to be a guy that doesn’t… You know, we all see, it’s one of his main weapons, that arm slot,” Farrell said. “And yet if it’s off a tick, it takes away from the overall depth of the breaking ball. I can’t say because when you look at the course of his career and what history shows, at this point in time of the season, the performance has maybe reflected some of that workload. So, I think they’re related. The time of the year, that workload, and maybe some of the definition to the pitches.”

The slider, in particular, has lacked its normal devastating action.

The question of what the Sox could have done differently with Sale over the course of the season, or what they could at least do differently going forward, has already come up internally. It’s not an easy question to answer: would an inning here and an inning there make all the difference in Game 3?

“I’ve had conversations with others in the organization about this,” Farrell said. “The highest number of pitches he’s thrown has been 118. We have taken every additional available day provided. If you were to take it a step further, this is where it’s a great debate, because you need every start to get to the point of entering the postseason. And yet, if you’re afforded, do you provide a longer break at some point during the season if you’re afforded a place in the standings to do that? All great in concept, these conversations. He’s pitched a high number of innings. We’ve given every additional day possible. The pitch counts have been, I think, well in check.”

It’s worth remembering that last year with the White Sox, Sale’s second half was arguably better than his first half, and he was throwing with less velocity throughout the year in an effort to be more efficient.

Sale wound up with a higher strikeout rate in the second half, 9.7 per nine innings compared to 8.9, with a slightly better ERA, 3.28 vs. 3.38.

Farrell said consideration of using Sale in Game 4 was weighed when the choice was made to send Sale back out for the sixth inning at 89 pitches in Game 1. Sale struggled, allowing the only two batters he faced to reach and was pulled at 100 pitches.

“We’re in a three-run game, and the sixth inning is the one you’re focusing on,” Farrell said. “And the fact we’re in a spot where we’ve talked about wanting to stay left-handed through that part of the lineup. By no means are we out of that game, so to go away from a spot in the lineup where you want to be left-handed for four days from now, I felt like it was important to address that inning vs. four days [ahead].”

The difference between Sale going five or six innings isn’t necessarily the reason Sale wouldn’t pitch Game 4 (although it couldn’t help).

“I don’t know that [roughly] 10 pitches is going to eliminate the potential of a shorter return,” Farrell said.

There is no finalized Game 4 starter yet. Rick Porcello remains in line to make the start unless he’s needed for an extended outing Friday. Eduardo Rodriguez could start if Porcello does not. Porcello’s inning in Game 3 did not affect his availability for Game 4.

Why is Devers sitting?

Dallas Keuchel has allowed 16 hits to left-handed hitters all year. That's why Red Sox manager John Farrell did not start one of his biggest power threats, Rafael Devers, on Friday in Game 2, opting for Deven Marrero instead. Marrero isn't known for his bat, but what he has done well in the majors this season is hit southpaws, with a.944 OPS. Still, there's a risk in a lineup with so little power in removing one of the few guys with a big-time swing.

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins


Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone" the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration


Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.