It’s no secret that the key to the Red Sox season, in all likelihood, lies with the rotation. The team should score enough runs, but whether or not they’ll be able to keep opponents off the board is a different story. They have talent at the top of the rotation, but they are all wildcards to varying degrees in terms of both consistency and with health. Chris Sale is, of course, among that group, but he won’t be to start the season. According to Alex Speier, Ron Roenicke indicated on Thursday that the Red Sox ace would indeed start the year on the injured list. The manager says Sale is about two weeks behind.
Roenicke says Sale will be on injured list to start season. Says he’s about 2 weeks behind.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) February 27, 2020
This is obviously not great news! The Red Sox already had a major question mark with their fifth rotation spot as Ryan Weber has been the favorite to claim that spot. Now they have two open spots available for the large group of fringe pitchers looking to make the roster. Roenicke again said he would consider using an opener for the opening, and now he says he’ll do so for both, but as I said earlier this week that doesn’t really answer the question.
There is some good news. Or, maybe not good news but better news, relatively. That is that right now it does not appear this will be a long absence. There is no indication this has anything to do with the health of his arm, and in fact Roenicke said again on Thursday that Sale’s arm is doing well. Instead, it’s because the southpaw had camp delayed due to pneumonia and they don’t want to rush him back. It’s a reasonable strategy, but it obviously hurts the roster early in the year.
To that point, the last thing I’ll say is that the Red Sox will not be able to go with a four-man rotation early. That is an option in a lot of seasons because there are typically more off-days in the first couple weeks of the season, but not this year. The Red Sox start their season off with eight games in a row. There is, of course, more chance of rain outs in late March and early April, but that’s not something you can really plan on when building the roster. So, hopefully this isn’t a long-term concern, but it’s not the news you want to hear one month away from Opening Day.