BOSTON (CBS) — Things haven’t been going well for the 2019 Boston Red Sox, and there’s been concerns across the board. Perhaps the biggest worry has been Chris Sale’s lack of velocity in his second start of the year.
In that start, Sale did only allow one run in his six innings of work, but his average fastball velocity dipped under 90 mph. That lack of velocity, combined with Sale’s shoulder troubles last season, had a lot of folks in the region worried.
But manager Alex Cora said the drop in speed was not without reason. Sale, he said, was sick.
“He doesn’t like making excuses, but he only threw probably 50 throws in between starts. It wasn’t the belly-button thing, but right around there,” Cora said Tuesday prior to the Red Sox’ home opener, referencing Sale’s piercing joke from October. “It was bad for a while. I hate making excuses for my players, but there’s a reason for certain things, and the fact that he went out there and pitched, it tells me a lot about Chris. The way he competed, it was amazing, and I expect him to go out [Tuesday] and do the same thing.”
Sale’s average fastball velocity through two starts this season is at 91.4 mph, down from 95.7 mph last year and 95.0 mph in 2017, per Fangraphs. Sale’s lowest fastball velocity for any season in his career was 93.4 mph in 2013. His overall career average velocity for the fastball is 94.7 mph.
In terms of results, Sale fared better in that second start than he did on Opening Day in Seattle, when he allowed seven earned runs in three innings.
Sale enters Tuesday’s game with an 0-2 record and an 8.00 ERA.