Chris Sale Won't Make Next Red Sox Start After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2021

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale delivers against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

The Boston Red Sox told reporters Friday that pitcher Chris Sale has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not make his scheduled start against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

After missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, Sale made his highly anticipated return to Boston's rotation in August.

Sale has looked the part of an ace in five starts, going 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 25 innings.

Since making his MLB debut in 2010 with the White Sox, Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.

In seven seasons with the White Sox, Sale was a five-time All-Star and finished fifth or better in the American League Cy Young voting four times.

He got traded to Boston prior to the 2017 season and has earned two All-Star nods and finishes of second and fourth in the Cy Young voting in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Sale's production dropped off in 2019, as he went just 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts before getting shut down with elbow inflammation, which eventually led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Starting pitching has been a major issue for Boston over the past few seasons, but Sale is a true ace who has helped stabilize things.

The 32-year-old lefty has made 317 regular-season appearances during his career, including 237 starts. He owns a career record of 112-73 with a 3.02 ERA and averages 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Boston is in the midst of a tight playoff battle in the AL, holding a one-game lead over the rival New York Yankees for the No. 1 wild-card spot.

The Toronto Blue Jays are just 1.5 games behind the Red Sox, while the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners trail by 3.0 games.

Every game is huge for the Red Sox down the stretch, so missing Sale for one or more starts represents a significant loss.

That is especially true for Sunday since the Red Sox will be facing a White Sox team that leads the AL Central and owns the third-best record in the American League.

Until Sale is able to return to the rotation, Boston will primarily lean on Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and Tanner Houck.