Chris Sale getting Tommy John might be beginning of end

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale is undergoing Tommy John surgery, and at this stage, could this be the inflection point of his career?

Chris Sale is turning 31 years old in two weeks. He won’t pitch on a Major League mound again until he’s 32 and change.

Sale is undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, putting him out for all of 2020 and likely half of 2021. The Red Sox have to hope their lithe superstar bounces back, but they should have ample concern.

After starring with the Chicago White Sox from 2010-16, Sale was dealt to the Red Sox for a quartet of prospects including Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. Moncada has turned into a second baseman, hitting .315 with 25 home runs last year. Kopech, 23, is one of the biggest pitching prospects in the game, and is believed on the verge of a breakout campaign.

Then there’s Sale. The seven-time All-Star has been brilliant most of his career, pitching to a 109-73 mark with a 3.03 ERA. Sale has struck out 2,007 batters over 1,629 innings pitched.

However, 2019 was a struggle for flame-throwing southpaw. Sale made 25 starts, the lowest number since moving out of the bullpen in 2012. In those games, Sale pitched to a 4.40 ERA, going 6-11 while surrendering 24 home runs.

It’s reasonable to believe Sale will have the surgery, regain his velocity and become a frontline pitcher for Boston once more. Still, it can’t be discounted that the 6-foot-6, 180-pounder hasn’t been his vintage self since 2018, and likely won’t be throwing a meaningful pitch until the midway point of 2021. It’s a long span to bridge.

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