After a strange 2020 season, the 2021 MLB season will be starting on time. Currently, teams are slated to play all 162 games which means pitchers’ workloads will return to normal. More innings and more batters on more teams mean pitchers will actually have time to ramp up, unlike in 2020. During spring training, teams will need to start getting a feel for what their rotations might be. Here is an early look at the Boston Red Sox projected 2021 pitching rotation.
1. Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi rose to prominence during the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series run. He was traded to Boston that season and started 11 games for them that season, earning an ERA of 3.33. Since then he has been a seminal piece of the rotation.
In 2020, Eovaldi posted an ERA of 3.72 in 48.1 innings pitched. His win-loss total was 4-2 over nine starts and he struck out 52. He deserves to be at the top of the rotation due to his consistent production. With championship aspirations after a disappointing pandemic-shortened season, Eovaldi is a great choice at the top.
2. Garrett Richards
2021 will be Richards’ first year in Boston. The former Angel and Padre has a career 162 game average ERA of 3.62 with 152 strikeouts. The 33-year-old is sorely needed in Boston after their incredibly disappointing 2020 campaign.
In 2020, Richards had a higher than normal ERA, at 4.03 in 14 games (10 starts). But that does not suggest a steep drop off, considering the circumstances. He makes sense at second in the lineup, as you need some solid production in the three middle spots. Richards can give the Red Sox that in spades.
3. Eduardo Rodriguez
Rodriguez did not pitch during the 2020 season, but if the trend that caught many pitchers up in its web also affected him, then it likely saved him some worse-than-normal numbers.
In 2019, however, Rodriguez led the MLB in games started, at 34. Despite that huge workload, he posted an ERA under 4.00. He was also a member of the 200 strikeout club (213), but unfortunately also led the MLB in walks, at 75.
In short, Rodriguez is a workhorse pitcher. That is perfect for the middle of the Red Sox lineup. They need someone who can eat up innings and never miss a start if they hope to return to playoff baseball, let alone the World Series.
4. Chris Sale
Speaking of workhorses, Chris Sale may be a head above the rest in the American League. He also missed the 2020 season, but that was likely a good thing as his numbers in 2019 took a bit of a dive.
The seven-time All-Star has been in the top 6 of Cy Young voting seven times. He led the MLB in innings pitched in 2017, and led the league in complete games twice (2013 and 2016). His 2018 season was incredible, posting a 2.11 ERA in a massive 27 starts.
As stated earlier, if one scrubs his 2019 downturn from his career, there is no reason Sale should not be in the lineup. Fourth in the rotation may even be a little low, but he should earn his way upward soon after the season begins.
5. Martin Perez
Perez, the long time Texas Ranger, is entering his second season with the Red Sox. In 12 games and 62 innings pitched, he posted an ERA of 4.50. Add to that 46 strikeouts to 28 walks. Those numbers are actually some of Perez’s best (if stretched out to a full 162 game season).
Bottom of the rotation pitchers are flexible and replaceable, of course. But Perez earns the last spot here sheerly due to his time served in the MLB. He has been employed by a team since 2012, and keeps earning his way onto rosters for a reason, so why wouldn’t Boston try him out here?
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