Return of Boston’s Ace

Chris Sale, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since Aug. 13, 2019, is nearing a return — and it could be massive for a first-place Boston team locked in an AL East dogfight.

The seven-time All-Star went 3.2 innings in a rehab start for Double-A Portland on Tuesday: He didn’t allow a hit, struck out six, and walked one.

He finished within the Top 6 in AL Cy Young voting each year from 2012-18 and helped them win the 2018 title.

The Red Sox have been patient with the lefthander, and for very good reason: They are in it for the (very) long haul with Sale.

  • In 2019, he signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension with a base salary of $30 million in 2021. 
  • Sale will receive $50 million in deferred payments — $10 million per year — from 2035 through 2039, when he’s 50.

The addition of MLB’s all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1) could put the Red Sox over the top in their quest for a championship.

While they rank second in hits, fourth in runs, and fifth in average, they’re just 13th in ERA and 25th in opponent average.

The Red Sox lead the Rays by one game and have the third-best record in the AL. They currently have the sixth-best odds (+1,000*) to win the World Series.