Red Sox

J.D. Martinez explains how Mookie Betts' absence will impact Red Sox offense

J.D. Martinez explains how Mookie Betts' absence will impact Red Sox offense

Will the Boston Red Sox score enough runs to be a playoff-caliber team in 2020 after trading superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers?

The Red Sox offense was not the problem in a disappointing 2019 season. Boston was one of four American League teams to score 900-plus runs, coming in fourth with 901. The Red Sox also led the AL in hits, ranked No. 4 in total bases and No. 2 in on-base percentage. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers both had tremendous seasons, and these young stars are in the early stages of their primes.

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Betts is an MVP-caliber player and won a batting title, three AL Silver Slugger awards and an AL MVP over his career in Boston. Losing him will no doubt make the Red Sox offense less intimidating for opposing pitchers, but as J.D. Martinez told reporters at spring training Monday, Boston's offense still has the potential to be quite potent.

"Mookie's a great player," Martinez said. "He's one of the best players in the game. Obviously, you're going to feel it, in a sense, but I think we have a lot of really, really good players. You look at the guys who had breakout years last year, guys come back. I don't know what our numbers were offensively, but I would say one of the top-three, top-four offensive teams in baseball. Obviously, it's going to take a hit, but I really believe in the guys we have, and if guys continue to get better, I think we'll be really good."

The likeliest issue for the Red Sox in 2020 will be pitching.

No one knows what the Red Sox will get out of Chris Sale. When healthy, Sale has the talent to be one of baseball's best starting pitchers. Staying healthy has been an issue for him throughout his Red Sox tenure, though. Eduardo Rodriguez had a breakout 2019 campaign, and his next challenge is showing he can pitch at a high level consistently.

David Price wasn't always stellar, but he pitched pretty well when healthy. He was thrown into the Betts trade, opening up another hole in Boston's rotation. Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez will likely be the third and fourth starters, respectably. 

Baseball is super tough to predict -- who could have imagined the Washington Nationals winning the World Series last year? The Red Sox could surprise us this season, but for that to happen, the pitching must be much-improved from what it was in 2019.

Tomase: Sale iffy for Opening Day, but he sounds optimistic

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale turned 31 on Monday. He also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow on that same day. The procedure will sideline him for at least the rest of the 2020 season and beyond. 

But when exactly can we expect Sale back? Boston Red Sox chief of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, wouldn't confirm to an exact date, but he did provide some insight into how long Sale might be sidelined.

"We don't know exactly," Bloom said, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Typically you see around that 14-15 month range."

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Okay, so maybe that's not the most specific answer, but it at least gives us a ballpark idea of when Sale could return.

A 14-15 month recovery period would have Sale return sometime between early June and early July in 2021, if his recovery goes well. Of course, there are so many variables to take into account about how Sale may be progressing but also about how the Sox may be faring. If they aren't doing well, the team could take an extremely cautious approach with Sale in hopes of having him fully healthy for the 2022 season.

But Bloom's estimate at least gives Sox fans an initial target for Sale's potential return. The target date will certainly be fluid especially considering that some pitchers take 18 months to return from the surgery.

But no matter what, Sale won't be suiting up for the Red Sox until mid-2021 at the earliest. And that's bad news for the squad considering their lack of starting pitching depth.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale's long road to recovery from a pesky elbow injury began on Monday.

The Boston Red Sox officially announced that Sale underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday to reconstruct the UCL in his throwing arm. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.

The Red Sox and Sale decided that he would need to have the surgery about a week and a half ago. The coronavirus crisis made it a bit uncertain as to when Sale would be able to have the procedure done, but now, it is in the books.

Sale won't pitch at all in 2020 and it's likely that he will miss time in 2021 as well. In fact, he could miss that whole season given that a typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes about 18 months.

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Either way, the Red Sox will be without Sale long-term and as a result, their starting rotation looks very thin. Eduardo Rodgriguez will slot in as the team's ace while Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are the Nos. 2 and 3 starters respectively.

The other two rotation spots are up for grabs but before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was assumed that Ryan Weber had the inside track for the fourth starter position. The fifth starter role was much less settled and the team may have used an opener strategy given their lack of starting pitching depth.

Without Sale, the Red Sox will likely have to rely a lot on their offense to carry them to victory moving forward. But we won't get a chance to see how they look until the MLB returns. And at this point in time, it's unclear when that may be.