Chris Sale was originally supposed to pitch Thursday’s series finale against the Yankees. But manager Alex Cora said Monday that the lefthander will be pushed back to Saturday when the Sox are in Toronto for a series with the Blue Jays.
“Rest. That will be good for him,” Cora said before the Sox’ series opener against the Yankees was rained out at Fenway Park. “He’s just working on a few things during the week and will be ready for Saturday.”
The Sale news comes behind the recent announcement that James Paxton will miss the remainder of the season because of a nagging knee injury. The Sox pushed Paxton back before his most recent start, hoping that a bit more rest, similar to Sale, would fuel him moving forward. But the Royals pounded Paxton, limiting him to just 1⅓ innings where he allowed six runs.
Sale missed much of the summer as he recovered from a shoulder fracture. He returned in early August with the hope that he could help bolster the club’s starting staff as it attempted to make a playoff push. That, of course, didn’t happen.
Sale underperformed, as did the Red Sox. In six starts since being reinstated from the injured list, he has a 5.58 ERA. In his Saturday start against the Orioles, Sale yielded six earned runs in just four innings and the Sox lost, 13-12.
“You see flashes of [the ability to pitch effectively] and then it kind of disappears for a little bit. Pitch to pitch, inning to inning, you know it’s in there. It’s just, you’re kind of scrounging around the bottom of a barrel trying to find it,” Sale said Saturday. “I’m just not getting it done. [I have to] find a way to find a way. I’m supposed to be something on this team, and I’m not. Anybody that knows me knows that that’s just unbelievably frustrating and disappointing.”
Cora did not name a starter for Thursday to replace Sale.
Heat’s on bullpen arms
In Friday’s convincing 11-2 loss to the Orioles, the four Sox relievers — Joe Jacques, John Schreiber, Brennan Bernardino, and Brandon Walter — averaged just 9.0.9 miles per hour on their fastballs. The Orioles, meanwhile, churned out three relievers averaged 95.1 m.p.h. on their heaters.
It was a tale of two bullpens: One harnessed elite velocity while the other did not.
“Obviously, velocity plays at this level,” Cora said. " I can go back to the meeting before the ALDS in 2018 talking about certain guys. One of them was Joe [Kelly, the former Sox reliever] and he was throwing 100 [m.p.h] and [some thought we should] leave him off the roster. And I was like, ‘You can’t teach 100. We’ll find a way to get this guy there. Velocity plays at this level. Obviously, there’s other stuff that comes into it.”
Certainly, velocity isn’t everything. Bernardino has put together a fine season without elite velocity. His funky delivery and the shape of some of his pitches can make him a tough at-bat. And, in fairness, the Red Sox ranked 11th in average fastball velocity at 94.7 m.p.h. while the Orioles ranked 10th at 94.7.
Yet following the All-Star break, the Sox ranked 22nd in the majors in reliever velo. It is, in part, an employment issue without much variance. The Sox have too many lefties that rely on craftiness over firepower. Remember, the Red Sox acquired Richard Bleier in a trade with the Marlins (for Matt Barnes) last offseason and released him in early August. Another part of the issue is overage, with the Sox having to lean on the bullpen for more outs due to injury and their starters’ inability to go deep into games.
The Red Sox amplified their bullpen last offseason with the nice additions of Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin. But there’s still work that needs to be done.
“When you throw hard, it’s hard to make decisions at the plate,” Cora said. “Velo is something that we’ll talk about in the offseason. It’s not a must but you can’t have the same pitcher all the time.”
Reyes to be activated
Infielder Pablo Reyes (elbow) will be activated off the injured list Tuesday … The Fenway grounds crew used five tons of quick dry Sunday so the Sox could get their game in with the Orioles. “Yesterday they did an outstanding job. That was unreal,” Cora said … The Sox wore FDNY and NYPD hats Monday night in honor of 9/11 … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said infielder Oswald Peraza is day to day with inflammation in his left knee . . . The Yankees officially placed outfielder Jasson Domínguez on the injured list with a tear in his right UCL. Boone said the expectation is Domínguez would be out 9-10 months once he has surgery. He was 8 for 31 with four homers and seven RBIs over eight games before the elbow injury was detected. Outfielder Estevan Florial was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.