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Red Sox ace Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery, miss the entire 2020 season

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

The Boston Red Sox delivered some bad news about Chris Sale on Thursday. The team’s ace left-hander is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his ailing elbow.

It has been a long and winding road since Sale first reported discomfort in his elbow last August. Though he didn’t require surgery at the time, he ended up missing the final six weeks of the regular season with a flexor tendon strain.

The Red Sox hoped the offseason would allow Sale to heal up, but the elbow gave him problems again almost immediately in spring training. After being shut down for three weeks, Sale attempted to begin a throwing program on Wednesday. Now, just 24 hours later, his 2020 season is over.

Recovery time from Tommy John surgery can take 12-15 months. It’s possible Sale will miss significant time in 2021 as well.

Chris Sale has been a workhorse

This is the first major arm injury Sale has suffered during his MLB career. Since his first full season with the Chicago White Sox in 2012, Sale has been as dominant and durable as any pitcher in MLB.

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale will require Tommy John surgery, ending his 2020 season before it began. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Even after breaking his foot in spring training in 2015 and missing six weeks last season, he’s made at least 25 starts in every season and has topped 190 innings five times. During that time, Sale was selected to six All-Star games and finished top six in the AL Cy Young voting six times.

His best season was his first season in Boston. Sale finished runner up in 2017 AL Cy Young voting after finishing with an MLB-best 308 strikeouts.

Where do the Red Sox go from here?

The last few months have been tough for Red Sox fans to digest.

First, the team traded former MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a cost-cutting move. Now Sale, who has five years and $145 million remaining on his contract, will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

That doesn’t even take into account the pending investigation into the team’s alleged illegal sign-stealing and the firing of World Series-winning manager Alex Cora, who was deeply connected to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scheme. A lot has happened in a short time, and none of it has been good for Boston.

On the bright side, they still have plenty of talent. Most teams would love to have a Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers or Andrew Benintendi to build around. J.D. Martinez is still around to provide some power, too. The pitching staff. Well, that’s another story. Without Sale, it’s awfully thin. That’s bad news in a loaded AL East.

Given the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the league shutdown, which will extend into at least mid-May and possibly far beyond, the Red Sox will have time to regroup. But their chances of competing in 2020 have taken a massive hit.

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