The Boston Red Sox are looking to win their fifth game of the season on Friday and notch their first winning streak of the 2019 campaign. The Baltimore Orioles will come to town for a four-game series starting on Friday, and the lineups for the first contest are out.
The major note about the lineup this time out is that Dustin Pedroia will not be playing. Pedroia had played in the previous two games after being activated from the injured list, but he will get a day off on Friday. This may be a pattern for the Red Sox, as they could be reluctant to play Pedroia in back-to-back games as he slowly works his way back into the lineup.
Eduardo Nunez will start at second base in place of Pedroia, as Brock Holt is still on the injured list with an eye injury.
The Red Sox will start Eduardo Rodriguez on Friday, as he looks to become the first Red Sox pitcher to notch a victory during the 2019 season. Rodriguez has struggled to an 0-2 start this year with a 12.38 ERA, but he pitched well against the Orioles last year. The Red Sox had a 4-1 record in games that he pitched against Baltimore and E-Rod's personal record in those contests was 3-0.
The main note for the Orioles lineup is that Chris Davis will not be playing. Davis was once one of the game's most feared sluggers, but his play has fallen off immensely. This year, he has gone hitless in a major-league record 53 consecutive at-bats. The Orioles are giving him some time to work through the issues that have led him to this point.
BOSTON RED SOX (4-9)
1. Andrew Benintendi LF
2. Mookie Betts RF
3. Mitch Moreland 1B
4. J.D. Martinez DH
5. Xander Bogaerts SS
6. Rafael Devers 3B
7. Eduardo Nunez 2B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
9. Christian Vazquez C
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (5-8)
1. Jonathan Villar 2B
2. Joey Rickard RF
3. Trey Mancini 1B
4. Renato Nunez DH
5. Dwight Smith Jr. LF
6. Hanser Alberto 3B
7. Jesus Sucre C
8. Richie Martin SS
9. Cedric Mullins CF
David Hess RHP
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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.
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.