Elite pitchers like Chris Sale and Max Scherzer only come around once in a generation. I mean, Scherzer and Sale have pitched a combined 4,258 innings in their combined experience of 26 seasons. There's a reason we are still talking about them as their careers have both reached their twilight side. Both have missed significant time in 2022.
Scherzer has been on the rack since May 18th, when he left his start against the Cardinals with a strained left oblique. Before his injury, Scherzer was 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA. His ERA+ was a sterling 158. He had 59 strikeouts in 49 innings. If anyone thought Scherzer was washed up, they were sorely mistaken. The drama around his injury in October when he was a member of the Dodgers is a story for another time, but it did bring up concerns when Scherzer signed a 3-year $130 million contract. Scherzer's age of 37 is not a factor that anyone missed when he signed this contract, but as they say, Father Time is undefeated. Scherzer may be defying Father Time for now, but hopefully, for the Mets, this injury is an outlier.
Scherzer will be pitching for Binghamton Rumble Ponies (I love minor league team names) against the Reading Fighting' Phils in Binghamton on Tuesday. He's expected to pitch three or four innings and hopefully be back in the Mets rotation by Sunday. The Mets have a 5 and a half-game lead in the NL east with a 45-24 record. The NL East juggernauts will be even scarier once they get their ace back.
Sale's journey is much different. Sale last pitched in the 2021 ALCS against the Houston Astros. In February, Sale fractured his right rib. This is a delicate injury for any athlete, especially a starting pitcher. On Monday night, Sale pitched an inning for Boston's Florida Complex League team in Port Charlotte. Good news for Sox fans, Sale threw 22 pitches and was clocked throwing 96 MPH. The plan for Sale is to pitch several more minor league starts, so that his build-up slowly gets up to a 5-inning count. Boston Red Sox manager Joey Cora already spoke of the excitement of getting Sale back in the near future and the need for patience in that regard.
"I know people get excited when he gets on the mound, but we've got to be patient. We've got to go through the whole process, and just getting him on the mound in a game, now we can see it, right? He'll be here at one point and he's going to contribute."
The Red Sox are currently 3rd in the AL East, a competitive division, with a 37-31 record. They got off to a slow start but have slowly formed themselves into a winning team. The Red Sox are currently 8th in MLB overall with a 3.62 ERA, and 7th in runs scored. Sale's return (which is likely to still take at least a few weeks) will be a welcome sight for Red Sox fans, as his presence in the rotation will be helpful as the summer grinds along.
With the shortened spring training, the MLB season started with a lot of pitcher injuries and a lot of pitchers not fully built up for the long grind of a season. Scherzer's absence was disappointing for Mets fans, but the silver lining is that a month of Scherzer resting his arm isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Sale starts his MLB season in mid-July, his arm is fresh like the season just started when in fact the season is smack-dab in the middle of it. Pitching is going to win the World Series, as it always does. The team whose best pitchers are healthy in October will be sitting pretty.