BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora has decided to expand to a six-man rotation at the end of this turn through, and that means that slumping ace Chris Sale will pitch the first rivalry game of 2019 at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
Otherwise, Sale (0-3, 9.00 ERA) would have started the finale of this four-game series against the Orioles on Monday, which has an 11 a.m. ET start for Patriots Day.
Hector Velazquez, who did a stellar job (three shutout innings) when used as a sixth starter on April 7 at Arizona, will go Monday unless he is needed in the bullpen before that.
The decision to pitch Sale against the Yankees is interesting. Though Sale has obviously started the season in a funk, the lefty has traditionally dominated against the Yankees.
In 15 career starts against New York, including the postseason, Sale has a 1.75 ERA.
Cora said the plan to insert Velazquez for a turn was designed to give all the starters a breather, not just Sale.
After an off-day on Thursday of next week, the Red Sox are scheduled to play 20 straight days.
“So that's the last time we can actually give those guys a breather,” said Cora. “It's by design. There's nothing going on. Hopefully Hector, we don't have to use him a lot over the next few days, and he'll be the guy on Monday.”
Pedroia gets a rest
Dustin Pedroia, who made his season debut on Tuesday and started again on Thursday, was out of the lineup on Friday.
“He's good,” said Cora. “Just staying away from him in the early part of the game today. If we need him late, we'll use him. He should be back tomorrow. But nothing wrong with him. He actually did a good job yesterday. That was pretty cool for him to be involved [in the comeback] and we're very pleased where he's at right now.”
The Red Sox will continue to protect Pedroia from himself as he comes back from a major left knee injury.
“He feels that he can play 162,” quipped Cora. “We've just got to be careful with him. It's smart from our end. We can't push him that hard. It's different. You can go to Double A, Triple A, but at this level, there's a lot of stuff going on and the game is faster, and your moves are quicker, and it's a lot different.”