Can Red Sox 2022 rotation survive losing Chris Sale?

(Photo: The Boston Globe)
Eric D. Schabell Contributing Writer 

The end of the world news arrived early this abbreviated Spring Training, Chris Sale out for weeks with a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

Again, the perennial number one starter will not take the ball for the Red Sox on Opening Day.

It got worse last week when it was reported that weeks would now be turning into months before Sale would be back according to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. It's devastating news if Sale is out until late May, he'll miss 40 regular-season games, about one forth of the season due to this injury. If you want to look at the glass being half full, you will have a fully rested and recovered Sale for the second half of the year and for potential postseason baseball.

What's this mean for the first few months of this 2022 season and how will the Red Sox rotation survive this setback?

The rotation

The ideal rotation was designed to be quite a one two punch:

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Nathan Eovaldi
  3. Nick Pivetta
  4. Tanner Houck
  5. Some combination of Rich HillMichael Wacha or Garrett Whitlock.

Without Sale, it's going to shake out something like this:

  1. Nathan Eovaldi
  2. Nick Pivetta
  3. Tanner Houck

The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation can be filled as needed by Hill, Wacha or Whitlock.

The offseason signings of Hill for $5 million and Wacha for $7 million were intended to provide some rotation depth and it's going to give manager Alex Cora exactly that from Opening Day. The Spring Training games have included a start by Whitlock, who came up in the Yankees organization as a starter, but he is not being stretched out which indicates more of a long relief role.

Another free agent signing was James Paxton, coming off Tommy John surgery, who is not expected back before July. Paxton signed for a $10 million deal, which includes club options for 2023-24 raising the deal up to $35 million. The Red Sox are rolling the dice to see if they can find a starter in Paxton for the next few years, but don't ask a Seattle Mariners fan about him, you'll get an ear full about his troubles staying on the field.

The Red Sox should be able to ride out Sale's injury and they will only get better as their starters return for the second half of the season. Brining back Paxton after July would be icing on the cake if he can contribute down the stretch.

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.