Thursday, March 5, 2015

A reason not to fret about Chris Sale's injury: The early-season schedule

It was not good news earlier this week when the White Sox announced that ace left-hander Chris Sale would miss three weeks with an avulsion fracture in his right foot. The injury reportedly occurred at home when Sale was unloading his pickup truck, and it seems unlikely he'll be ready to start Opening Day when the Sox open the season at Kansas City.

Obviously, the Sox would like Sale to make 34 starts this season, but realistically, the team has to assume he'll miss his first two or three starts of the year as a result of this mishap.

But here's the good news: The schedule is set up as such that the Sox can get by with just four starting pitchers until April 21. There are three off-days the first 10 days of the season. Assuming Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Hector Noesi all remain healthy and are ready to go when the bell rings in April, here's how the pitching rotation may work for the first two weeks of the season:

April 6 at Kansas City: Samardzija
April 7: Off-day
April 8 at Kansas City: Quintana
April 9 at Kansas City: Danks
April 10 vs. Minnesota: Noesi
April 11 vs. Minnesota: Samardjiza
April 12 vs. Minnesota: Quintana
April 13: Off-day
April 14 at Cleveland: Danks
April 15 at Cleveland: Noesi
April 16: Off-day
April 17 at Detroit: Samardzija
April 18 at Detroit: Quintana
April 19 at Detroit: Danks
April 20 vs. Cleveland: Noesi
April 21: vs. Cleveland: ?????

As you can see, the early-season off-days would allow the Sox to use their other four guys on regular rest during this stretch. Naturally, if Sale is ready before April 21, he's going to pitch. But it's at least somewhat comforting that the Sox aren't going to have to rush Carlos Rodon into the rotation, or force someone else who doesn't belong to start a couple games, if Sale's injury happens to linger until mid- to late April.

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