Chris Sale injury: Red Sox ace has rib stress fracture, to miss Opening Day

Chris Sale injury Red Sox
Chris Sale
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is on the shelf once again as general manager Chaim Bloom announced on Wednesday that the southpaw has a stress fracture in his rib cage and he will miss the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time All-Star won’t throw for weeks with a timetable for his return unknown at this time.

This is the second in three years that a sizable injury is sidelining the star pitcher. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2020 that sidelined him for the entire season and limited the 2021 campaign to just nine starts.

After making 30 or more starts in four of five years spanning from 2013 to 2017, he missed nearly a month of the 2018 season due to shoulder inflammation. He was then shut down the following year in August due to an elbow issue that ultimately led to his Tommy John procedure.

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He managed to post solid numbers in 2021, going 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA, but his WHIP was notably higher (1.336) than his previous career average of 1.035 while his strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio dropped from 5.96 between 2013-2019 to 4.33. Sale still holds the MLB record in K/BB ratio at 5.33.

The questions of his durability will naturally continue — and it’s something that could throw a wrench into the progression of the career of one of the American League’s top pitchers of this generation.

Sale finished in the top-6 of the AL Cy Young Award voting in each year between 2012 and 2018 with the Chicago White Sox before joining Boston in 2017. During that stretch, he owned a 2.91 ERA and a 1.025 WHIP while leading the league in strikeouts twice — including a 308-punchout 2017 in Boston. He’s one of just 19 players in MLB history after 1900 to record 300 or more strikeouts in a season.

His absence now puts a crunch on the Red Sox’s pitching staff, which doesn’t tout much depth. After Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta, Boston’s projected fourth and fifth starters are Tanner Houck and Connor Seabold.