Chris Sale unlikely to be used out of the bullpen in ALDS Game 3

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Red Sox’ skipper John Farrell has been mulling over his options for Game 3 of the ALDS, which is scheduled to kick off on Sunday at 2:30 PM ET. On Saturday, he mentioned to reporters that he was considering using both David Price and Chris Sale out of the bullpen, the general idea being that it was “all hands on deck” during a must-win game. By Sunday afternoon, however, he changed his tune, saying that he’d like to spare Sale the relief appearance in order to prepare him for a potential Game 5 start.

That’s a pretty optimistic view for a club whose rotation has taken an 11-run beating at the hands of the Astros over Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS. The bullpen has fared little better, though it’s worth noting that Price and Rick Porcello (who’s currently tabbed for a potential Game 4 start) fired a combined 3 2/3 scoreless frames in consecutive losses.

As for Sale, he’s coming off of a disastrous start in Game 1, when he scattered nine hits, seven runs and six strikeouts over five innings. Three of those runs came via the long ball: Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve went back-to-back in the first inning and Altuve returned for a second helping in the fifth.

Doug Fister is set to take the hill for the Red Sox on Sunday, and Farrell appears to be pinning his hopes on a lengthy, run-free start from the right-hander. That’s easier said than done. Fister hasn’t recorded a full six innings since the first week of September and folded against the Astros during his last start of the regular season, taking his ninth loss of the year with three runs, five hits and five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. In the postseason, however, things don’t look quite so bleak. The veteran righty carries more clout than either Porcello or potential Game 3 starter Eduardo Rodriguez, touting a 4-1 record and 1.78 ERA over eight starts with the 2011-2013 Tigers and 2014 Nationals.