People like to say the Boston Red Sox have a lot of issues, but Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Evoaldi are a firm anchor for the 2020 season.
I admittedly am not a Boston Red Sox fan, but just like I recognize great players and teams outside of New England in football, it's impossible to deny great talent in baseball as well.
I think most Red Sox fans just want to forget the 2019 season. Coming off a World Series Championship in 2018, last year fell apart quickly for the Sox, and they found themselves third in the AL East. They were 12 games back of the second place and Wildcard Tampa Bay Rays, and a full 19 games behind the AL East leaders the New York Yankees.
There are a lot of things you could point to, but pitching was a big problem for Boston. Eduardo Rodriguez was a bright spot with his 19 wins and 3.81 ERA, outside of Rodriguez the pitching was awful. Rick Porcello seemed like a shell of the guy who won the Cy Young award in 2016. He finished the season with 14 wins and a 5.52 ERA. David Price who had been a disappointment since signing his seven year $217 million contract in 2015, started only 22 games, picked up seven wins, and finished with a 4.28 ERA. Of course Chris Sale had better years than 2019. The seven time All Star only started 25 games and sported an ERA of 4.40 and only won six games.
That was last season, this is 2020. The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are still streaked with questions, but a one, two, three, of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi should be more than enough for the Red Sox to compete for the East.
Tampa Bay comes back pretty intact and should be a competitive team. The Yankees have streaky power hitters and questionable pitching, they just learned yesterday that they're losing Luis Severino for the season. The Toronto Blue Jays made some moves this offseason and have a core of youngsters, but they're probably still a season out from being true contenders, and Baltimore is Baltimore. Nobody in the East pops as the surefire leaders, and the Red Sox have a top of the rotation that can keep them competitive.
We already know what Sale and Rodriguez are, and I wouldn't be worried about Sale at all. I expect the dominant lefty to be just that come opening day.
"Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is coming off of a season filled with injuries and bad outings, but he can prove the doubters wrong in 2020." - Brian Mizgala, BoSox Injection
This season for the Red Sox comes down to Eovaldi. He's an underrated middle of the rotation guy who when healthy can toy with batter's from the bump. What the Red Sox need out of Eovaldi is a repeat of his 2018 World Series outings.
"During the World Series, Eovaldi pitched an inning in each of the first two games (followed up) by a masterful six-inning performance in Game 3. Eovaldi allowed two runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits while striking out five and allowing just one walk. He was superb, to say the least. Sox ownership rewarded that performance with a four-year deal worth $68 million dollars going through 2022." - Brian Mizgala, BoSox Injection
Obviously middle relief and starting is very different, but when you look around the East, he's better than all teams fourth options, and better then some third options.
The Red Sox really shook up their lineup at the end of the offseason trading away Mookie Betts and David Price to the La Dodgers, and for most teams I would have written them off for the season, but not this Red Sox team. Their interim manager Ron Roenicke is pushing his players a little bit harder this spring, and he’s stretching out his pitchers.
The Red Sox have a solid top of the rotation, and very solid lineup despite Betts no longer being a part of the team. Though he won’t help much with the stick, the Kevin Pillar move could be very underrated. While he was with my hometown Blue Jays, Pillar was given the nickname Superman, because of his acrobatic catches, and just flat out amazing defense. It’s difficult to assign a number to what a defensive player like Pillar does for a pitcher's ERA, but it will be helpful.
Today is February 26, and opening day seems so far away, but that gives Boston some time to figure some stuff out, and despite some negativity surrounding the team, I wouldn’t be counting out the Sox just yet.