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Chris Sale Nears Return To Boston Red Sox

Chris Sale

Chris Sale

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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Chris Sale is on the cusp of returning to the Red Sox after recovering the past 16 months following Tommy John surgery. The 32-year-old’s latest stop on his journey back to the major leagues was a rehab start with Double-A Portland on Tuesday.

A capacity crowd filled Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine to see Chris Sale dominate minor league batters, and he did not disappoint. The southpaw tossed 3 2/3 hitless frames, touching 98 miles per hour while generating six strikeouts. This is tremendous progress from the reported 94 miles per hour that Sale has tallied during his previous outing.

The former all-star had a rough 2019, posting a 4.40 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 147 1/3 innings before being placed on the injured list on August 17 with left elbow inflammation. Before being sidelined Sale was a perennial stud and among the Cy Young finalists each and every season.

Boston finds themselves alone in first place on Tuesday, July 21 with the Tampa Bay Rays nipping at their heels. Chris Sale would be the ultimate trade deadline addition the Red Sox could be looking for to give them an edge down the stretch in the race for the American League East title.

Fantasy managers who drafted Sale have waited an awfully long time for a payoff. Unfortunately, as with anyone coming off serious surgery, expectations need to be kept in check as Sale works his way back to full strength. Outings will be short and there will likely be a few blow-up innings along the way. That being said, it will be great to have the veteran left-hander back on the mound and intimidating opposing hitters. [[ad:athena]]

If Chris Sale is somehow floating around on your league’s waiver wire, be sure to rectify that immediately. The time draws near and Boston’s ace will likely be returning to the big time very soon.

Pitchers with an EDGE

Shane McClanahan vs Orioles

5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K

McClanahan generated 22 swings and misses during the game for a 43 percent whiff rate and 39 percent CSW. Outside of an RBI single by Pedro Severino in the second inning, the 24-year-old shut down the Orioles. McClanahan now carries a 3.88 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 65 innings this season.

Wade Miley vs Mets

6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 8 K

The only damage came via a Pete Alonso solo blast in the first inning and an unearned run in the seventh due to a Joey Votto error. The veteran earned 17 called strikes in the game to only 12 whiffs but was in control for most of the contest. Miley may not be on the Reds long with the trade deadline approaching, but the veteran southpaw has posted a solid 2.72 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season.

James Kaprielian vs Angels

5 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2BB, 7 K

The 27-year-old continues to be impressive in his rookie campaign, generating a 30 percent whiff rate on his four-seam fastball with a 30 percent CSW overall versus the Angels. In fact, all seven strikeouts on Tuesday came on a four-seam fastball. Kaprielian has at least earned his way into the Rookie Of The Year conversation at this point, even if he has an upward climb to get there.

Luis Garcia vs Indians

6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 8 K

Garcia allowed back-to-back one-out hits in the second but went on to retire the next 10 batters he faced and kept the Indians’ offense off-balance. The 24-year-old generated 17 swinging strikes and tied a season-high with his eight strikeouts.

Hitters with an EDGE

Jose Abreu vs Twins

3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 Runs

The White Sox star finished a single short of the double. Yes, Jose Abreu legged out a triple during the contest. After an atrocious June, Abreu is batting .328 with five home runs and 21 RBI through 16 games in July.

Jose Altuve vs Indians

2-for-4, 2 HR, BB

The former MVP took Indians starter Triston McKenzie deep twice in the game, including a lead-off blast in the bottom of the first inning and another leadoff shot in the third. This was only the second two-hit game in Altuve’s last 20 contests.

Freddie Freeman vs Padres

2-for-4, HR

Freeman smashed a tie-breaking solo home run in the sixth inning off Padres ace Yu Darvish which proved to be the game-winner. The reigning MVP now has five home runs in his last seven contests and is batting .427 with six long balls in his last 21 games.

Randy Arozarena vs Orioles

2-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 Runs

Randy has been in a lengthy slump recently, so this performance was great to see. Over the last week, Tampa Bay’s coaches noticed that Arozarena’s bat appeared to be quicker after the outfielder narrowed his stance at the plate. The long ball was the 26-year-old’s first home run in a month and is now batting .251 with 11 homers and 11 stolen bases over 331 at-bats.

Matt Olson vs Angels

2-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, 2 Runs

Olson has now collected a base hit in 11 of his last 13 games and has homered in each of the last two games. The 27-year-old is now batting .295 with seven home runs and three stolen bases over his last 30 contests with a .385/.467/.962 line over his past seven.

Priority Pickup

Madison Bumgarner (Available in 75% percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues)

This is not exactly a ringing endorsement to aggressively add the veteran southpaw, but Madison Bumgarner does present an intriguing streaming option on Wednesday versus the Pirates. The 31-year-old missed the last month of the season with shoulder inflammation but came back from the injured list with six strong innings of one-run ball against the Cubs. Pittsburgh has not been quite as bad recently but still sport the second-lowest wOBA against left-handed pitching this year and have scored the fewest runs in major league baseball.

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Closing Time

Will Smith vs Padres

1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K (19th Save)

The Braves tasked their southpaw to hold on to a one-run lead on Tuesday. Smith quickly retired the first two batters on a popup and strikeout before allowing a Wil Myers double. Atlanta’s closer was then able to put the game away after getting Victor Caratini to ground out to lock down the victory. Smith is now 19-for-21 in save opportunities.

Amir Garrett vs Mets

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K (7th Save)

The 29-year-old is 7-for-11 in save opportunities this season, but it has been a rollercoaster to get this point. Multiple blown saves, along with Garrett’s 6.75 ERA in 41 appearances have made fantasy managers very nervous all season long.

Aroldis Chapman vs Phillies

1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K (17th Save)

Chapman, who has been shaky at best in recent outings, was able to lock down his 17th save despite allowing a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen. The southpaw struck out the other three batters he faced. The save was Chapman’s first since June 20 against the Phillies.

Brad Hand vs Marlins

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (20th Save)

Greg Holland vs Brewers

1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K (6th Save)

Kendall Graveman vs Rockies

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K (9th Save)

Graveman surrendered a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Raisel Tapia but was able to get Garrett Hampson to chase three pitches for the first out. The 30-year-old was then able to generate a ground ball to short before fanning Trevor Story to end the threat. Graveman has had a tremendous season, converting nine of his 11 save opportunities with a 0.90 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over 30 frames.

Alex Reyes vs Cubs

1/3 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K (1st Blown Save)

Reyes was summoned with a 6-1 lead when the Cubs loaded the bases. The Cardinals closer then proceeded to walk in a pair of runs before bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. Javy Baez singled in two and Ian Happ then completed the comeback with a two-run double. This ended Reyes’ streak of consecutive saves, but his poor control was going to catch up to him at some point.

Craig Kimbrel vs Cardinals

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (22nd Save)

Kimbrel made quick work of the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth, striking out a pair while throwing just 13 pitches to cap off a tremendous comeback.

Gregory Soto vs Rangers

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K (9th Save)

Soto needed just 13 pitches (11 strikes) to strike out the side on Tuesday (Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Eli White, and Adolis Garcia). All three hitters went down swinging. Soto is now 9-of-10 on save opportunities and carries a 2.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP across 38 frames this season.

Thursday’s Match Of The Day

Logan Webb (4-3, 56 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 60 K)

Julio Urias (12-3, 112 IP, 3.78 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 122 K)

Over his last five starts, Logan Webb has earned a 1.13 ERA, 2.21 FIP, and a 28.1 percent strikeouts rate with a 59 percent ground ball rate. Opposing batters have been able to barrel the ball just 3.2 percent of the time over that span in what had made Webb one of the most effective pitchers in baseball recently. That recent success will be put to the test against Julio Urias the Dodgers. Urias is having his own breakout season and finally adding the strikeout numbers that fantasy managers have been waiting for (122 K over 112 IP).

American League Quick Hits: Yankees promoted prospect Estevan Florial on Tuesday who ended up collecting his first major league home run vs the Phillies … Luis Arraez is day-to-day after tweaking his knee … Chris Sale tossed 3 2/3 hitless innings during his rehab start with Double-A Portland … DJ LeMahieu was scratched on Tuesday due to flu-like symptoms … Spencer Turnbull will require Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season and most of 2022 … Royals placed Danny Duffy (left flexor) and Brady Singer (shoulder) on the 10-day injured list … Bobby Bradley left Tuesday’s game with lower back spasms.

National League Quick Hits: Kris Bryant left Tuesday’s game with right hamstring fatigue … The latest MRI on Ketel Marte’s left hamstring “looked good” according to manager Torey Lovullo … Carlos Carrasco allowed five runs over 1 2/3 innings on his latest rehab start in Triple-A Syracuse … Mookie Betts missed another game due to an ongoing hip issue … Marlins placed Sandy Alcantara on the bereavement list … Mets manager Luis Rojas told reporters that he has given no thought to removing Edwin Diaz from the closer’s role … Justin Turner left Tuesday’s game with an apparent knee injury.