Chris Sale was pitching against the Orioles. It was his first start since coming off the DL and missing a few starts due to left shoulder inflammation. Sale wouldn’t disappoint as he’d strike out TWELVE Orioles in only five innings. He wasn’t going to be relied upon to go deep into the game. About one week later, news came out that he had to go back to another DL stint for the same reason. Sale and Cora both said it wasn’t too serious. Sale hasn’t pitched a game since that afternoon in Baltimore, but he’s finally returning… Sort of.

Chris Sale’s has a history of not being the same kind of pitcher come August and September. He kind of just burns out and doesn’t pitch the same way he did during the first four months. The Red Sox made a promise to change that this year. The plan was to limit his innings and make sure he doesn’t go deep into games when he doesn’t really need to be. That way, when September and  October roll around, he’ll be 100%. Without a good Chris Sale, you don’t have much of a shot in the postseason. Everybody knows it.

Sale’s injury was never too serious. Having a big division lead is a good luxury to have and it lets you do more things. Things such as putting someone like Sale on the DL. The team has to make sure he’s the healthiest he can be before he comes back. Now lets say the division race with the Yankees was a little closer. Sale himself said he would be pitching if that were the case. In reality, we really don’t know. Whatever the case is, Sale is going to be slowly brought back. His first game back will be Tuesday. He’s matching up against the Blue Jays and he’s going to be on a 40 pitch limit.

At the end of the day, its clear that Chris Sale is your most important pitcher on this pitching staff and just one of the most important players on the team as a whole. We’re talking about a guy who has an ERA south of 2.0 with over 200 strikeouts on the year. You need him starting games one and four of a five game series. He needs to be out there starting games one, four and seven of a seven game series. If you want to win in the postseason, you need him out there as much as possible. Its incredibly important that he’s as healthy as he can possibly be. He must be this way before you let him go out there without a pitch limit.

Alex Cora, Dana Levangie and the whole coaching staff have been doing a great job of doing so in building him back up. So the return will start on Tuesday and it will go from there. One thing is clear, if the Red Sox want to win a World Series title, Chris Sale has to be healthy. And you need to be willing to do whatever it takes in order for that to be the case.