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Chris Sale to undergo Tommy John surgery

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After a troubled 2019 and painful spring, the ex-White Sox goes under the knife

Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox
Worst news: Former White Sox ace Chris Sale is undergoing TJS.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

A bad spring for Boston just got worse.

Chris Sale’s unusual pitching motion defied injury for the first nine years of his career, including seven in Chicago. However, on the cusp of his 31st birthday, The Condor has succumbed to chronic elbow pain and will go under the knife.

He’ll miss all of 2020 and likely see his 2021 season truncated.

Per 162 games, Sale has pitched 204 innings in his career, so durability was rarely an issue. He pitched out of the bullpen in 2010-11 for the White Sox, but from there became one of the most dependable starters in baseball — leading the league with 214 ⅓ innings in 2017. Sale started breaking down in Boston, though, as he chased that 214 ⅓-inning season with a shoulder-shortened 2018 (158 innings) and elbow issues ending last season midway through August.

That 2019 season was the worst of Sale’s career, as he went 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA and 3.39 FIP, both career highs. Including the 2020 season, Sale is owed $145 million through 2024.

The Red Sox, already reeling from the luxury-tax swap of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, would have a 2020 rotation centering around Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and lots of prayers for rain.

Sale has amassed 45.4 bWAR in his career, with seven All-Star berths and Top 5 Cy Young finishes, as well as four top-22 MVP votes.