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    OPINION By Kalvin Tragethon

      After pitching 59 pitches in his start against the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale was taken out of the game with a shoulder injury.

      This injury is a big blow to the Red Sox, as they have lost their ace in the pitching rotation for the foreseeable future. However, this injury is not a result of bad luck for Sale and the Sox, as most injuries in baseball tend to be categorized. This injury is the continuation of a horrible and sad deterioration in the body of a 6’6”, 183 pound man whose body is physically worn down from years of side arm deliveries that have put an immense amount of strain on his throwing arm. 

      The laundry list of injuries to Sale started in late July 2018, when he went on the 10 day injured list (IL) for left shoulder inflammation.

      In the 2018 offseason, the Red Sox gave Sale a 5 year, $145 million extension with the team, letting the front office think they landed an ace through the 2024 season. 

      But in 2019, the pattern of injuries became apparent. On August 17, Sale was once again placed on the 10 day IL, this time, again, with shoulder inflammation. The injury ended up being more severe then the Red Sox originally let on publicly, and Sale was transferred to the 60-day IL list on September 1, at which point the Sox realized he needed Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. This surgery resulted in Sale missing the entire shortened 2020 and most of the 2021 season. He didn’t pitch again until August 2021. Sale would struggle in the Red Sox playoff run that season, as he allowed 8 runs during his 9 innings of work during the postseason. 

      The next season, the Red Sox were hopeful that Sale was going to have his first healthy season in 4 years. However, Sale suffered, yet again, another injury, this time to his ribs in Spring Training, and he was forced to the 60 IL and didn’t come back until July, where he would pitch one outing before taking a pitch off of his left pinky finger. Then in August, fans were told the already injured Sale fell off of his bike and broke his wrist, requiring an additional surgery, though there are speculations that the story isn’t entirely truthful.
      All of these injuries that piled up should have shown the Red Sox that Sale was not capable of being a reliable ace for the Red Sox, however, going into the 2023 season, the Red Sox listed Sale as their number 1 starting pitcher on the team. Coming into this year, the Red Sox pitching staff around Sale was a big concern. Corey Kluber, the Red Sox Opening Day starter, played for the Tampa Bay Rays last year, and posted a pedestrian 10-10 record with a 4.34 earned run average (ERA). As for the rest of the rotation, it features many young, inexperienced players such as Tanner Houck, who has struggled in the early part of this season, posting a 5.46 ERA. 

      The middle of the rotation features more young pitchers in Garrett Whitlock and Bryan Bello. For Whitlock, he found great success in the bullpen in the first couple of years of his major league career, but due to the lack of pitching depth in the Red Sox organization, he has been thrown into a starting role and in that starting role, he has put up a 2-2 record in 5 starts, with an ERA of 5.61, which is his highest, and therefore the worst of his career. Finally, Bello, who the Sox feel is a future top pitcher for the club, has put up the best numbers in the starting rotation, as his record is currently 3-3 and he has a 3.83 ERA, which is lower and therefore better than the average in the new age MLB.

      The Red Sox have made a huge mistake by putting all of their eggs into the basket of Chris Sale, and if the Red Sox want to continue to save money by relying on old, beaten down or young unproven pitchers as they have done this year, then they will continue to live in last place in the strong AL East.