After winning the World Series in 2018, 2019 was a bit of a down year for the Red Sox. While they finished with and above .500 record, they still finished 19 games behind the Yankees and 12 games out of the Wild Card. For a team with the payroll and talent that the Red Sox have, this is definitely a major disappointment.
With the loss of Chris Sale for the season even with it starting late, David Price traded to the Dodgers and Rick Porcello heading to the Mets, this will be one of the weaker rotations in recent Red Sox history. Even so, there is some hope, especially near the top of the rotation.
Here is a look at what their rotation may be if the 2020 season is not fully canceled due to COVID-19.
Rodriguez will be the Opening Day Starter and truthfully there is no competition. He has been a stalwart for Boston since his inaugural season in 2015. When looking at his 2018 and 2019 stats, one could argue that he is nearing ace levels anyways. A solid 3.82 and 3.81 ERA respectively and 32 wins compared to 11 losses.
Don’t forget that he also increased his strikeouts from 146 in 2018 to 213 in 2019 because he was able to play a full season.
Eduardo Rodriguez will have to be the pillar for this rotation to stand on. If he struggles even a bit, then the entire season could be lost very quickly. Unfortunately, 60 games do not allow for pitchers to have more than maybe one or two bad starts at a maximum considering they will only get 11 or 12 starts all season.
2.) Collin McHugh
After having to resign himself to the bullpen due to Houston having an absolutely stacked rotation, Collin McHugh could become a consistent starter for the Red Sox. Unfortunately for Boston, they do not have many other options to fill the number two spot. When McHugh is at his best he can definitely be an asset for the Sox.
Between 2014 and 2016, McHugh averaged 14 wins, a 3.65 ERA, 180 innings and 168 strikeouts. These are not Ace stats but they are definitely solid. It is clear that McHugh still has plenty of gas even though he has been in the bullpen for the past two seasons. While 2019 was not exactly kind to him, he still struck out 82 batters in only 74.2 innings. Also, his 2018 season was elite with a 1.99 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 72.1 innings.
McHugh will finally get his chance to be a top-level starter again. He needs to show up and maybe this opportunity can help him leverage a multi-year deal either in Boston or elsewhere.
3.) Nathan Eovaldi
Eovaldi is in year three of his four-year $68 million contract. This year will arguably be his most important one where he can make all the money Boston paid him worth it. If he struggles or gets injured this year then the deal will have been a complete flop.
Eovaldi was moved to the bullpen last season and it did not help too much. He still finished the year with a 5.99 ERA, a batting average against of .276 and a WHIP of 1.58. There is no doubt that Eovaldi has electric stuff and that is proven by his more than one strikeout per inning. That said, he has to find a way to limit hitters who do make contact from getting on base.
If he cannot do this then it’s going to be a very long season for Eovaldi and the Red Sox.
4.) Martin Perez
There is a real argument that could be made to have Perez be the third starter but it feels like the Red Sox will want to put Eovaldi near the top due to his contract. As for Perez, they signed a pretty average pitcher who has standout moments but has never really put everything together.
Perez’s best full season was in 2016 where he went 10-11 with a 4.39 ERA and coincidentally had his lowest batting average against, .270. He does not strike out many hitters and works to try to get grounders. Even still he averages about 20 homers given up per season.
There is no reason to believe that Perez will be a top-line starter for the Red Sox. At best he will eat some innings and try to get things to the bullpen.
5.) Ryan Weber
There is a major question mark for this spot in the rotation as no one really stands out. Ryan Weber made a few starts near the beginning of last season with very mixed results. In his first game he was solid going six innings and only giving up one run. Then the wheels fell off and he went only four innings giving up seven earned runs.
Weber does not strikeout many batters and averages about one homer given up per start. He had his best season in 2019 but it was nothing to write home about.
If the Red Sox went with a four-man rotation that would not be the worst idea in the shortened season. Unless they see something in Ryan Weber that no one else including themselves did previously, then having him start every fifth day when every game counts may not be the best idea.
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