Frank Francisco won't be available for Rangers in the ALDS

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Frank Francisco was optimistic enough after throwing from flat ground last week that he hoped to return from a month-long back injury to join the Rangers’ bullpen for the ALDS, but according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that’s been ruled out.
Ron Washington told Wilson that the most recent MRI exam “showed improvement in the muscle but not enough for him to start throwing off a mound.” He could still be added to the postseason roster for the ALCS or World Series, but first Francisco will have to show that he’s healthy by rehabbing in Arizona.
Francisco began the season as Texas’ closer before losing the job to Neftali Feliz following back-to-back ugly outings in early April, but recovered to post a 2.84 ERA and 57/16 K/BB ratio in 50 innings prior to landing on the disabled list last month. He would have been a nice addition to what is already a very strong playoff pitching staff, but now he’s a long shot to pitch in October.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.