Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling says the Red Sox won’t have a shot in the postseason if their ace Chris Sale is not 100 percent.
“From the outside looking in, I only have one concern and that’s Chris Sale,” Schilling said on an episode of Barstool Sports’ Section 10 podcast that aired Tuesday. “Nothing else to me matters because if he’s not healthy, I don’t think there’s any chance they can win the World Series.”
Sale hasn’t pitched since Aug. 12, when he struck out 12 batters in five shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 18 (retroactive to Aug. 15) with mild left shoulder inflammation — the same reason that landed him on the DL just a few weeks prior.
“Based on the last outing I saw him throw, I would argue it would be very hard for something severe to be wrong,” Schilling said. “I also don’t view him as a guy who would be like, ‘Eh, it’s OK, put me on the DL. I’ll miss a couple starts.'”
Manager Alex Cora said Tuesday the team doesn’t have a target return date for Sale in mind, but he expressed confidence that the All-Star be ready to go in September. The tail end of the regular season has historically been a tumultuous period for Sale over the course of his nine-year career. The 29-year-old is 9-15 with a 3.84 ERA in regular-season games played in September and October.
Schilling told Section 10 he encountered a similar trend in his career. He said a coach pulled him aside, showed him a spreadsheet with his stats from the last six Septembers — as Schilling put it, “the numbers weren’t flattering — and they proceeded to re-arrange the way he worked. Schilling said part of the changes included “more water work” and “more plyometric stuff.”
“It has nothing to do with work ethic,” he said, acknowledging that Sale is known to be a workhorse. “Some guys are just physically different.”
The Red Sox and Sale did modify their approach to spring training this season, incorporating extra rest into the pitcher’s schedule. Schilling is concerned, however, how they will handle these final months. He stressed going on and off the disabled list is not a sustainable plan and hypothesized the team is giving Sale some rest in August so that he can be “a full go” in September.
“When you’re on the DL and you’re not pitching, you’re not pitching,” Schilling said. “Coming off the DL to pitch every 10 days, there’s no way to work a rhythm. There’s no way to get into a groove. So I worry about that. … You can’t consistently take 10 days off and pitch and be a stud.”
The Red Sox have 28 games left in the regular season, which means Sale has fewer than five remaining starts. Boston holds a 6 1/2 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Schilling thinks there’s no reason the Red Sox, even without Sale, shouldn’t be able to hang on to win the division.
“For you not to win the division, you have to cost it yourself,” he said. “No one can take it from you. I think they’re too talented to give it away.”