Red Sox: Rodriguez has earned the opportunity to start on Opening Day

Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after pitch. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after pitch. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez was lights-out all season long and he’s earned the highly coveted Opening Day starter spot for the 2020 season.

Being named the starter for the Red Sox on Opening Day is a sign of praise and confidence from a team’s manager. The last few seasons Boston has put Chris Sale on the mound and rightfully so. However, with how this past season panned out for Sale, I’m not sure he will get that call again. Another southpaw made a serious claim to the throne and I feel that Eduardo Rodriguez should be on the hill on Opening Day.

Rodriguez’s 2019 campaign was something of storybook lore. Even with the Red Sox eliminated from postseason contention he went out for every start ready to give everything he had on the mound. On the last day of the season, he marched out to the bump and did everything he could to walk away with his 20th win of the year. Sadly, a blown save from Matt Barnes would steal that win from E-Rod.

Now it’s time to turn the page towards the next chapters and that’s the offseason and then the 2020 season. Eduardo is set to earn a raise through arbitration this winter and is projected to earn around $9.5M. That’s a significant bump from his 2019 salary of $4.3M. With how his season panned out he’s more than earned every penny he has coming.

E-Rod will be carrying a 19-6 record into the winter and that’s just the beginning of what he did in 2019. Eddie Aces set career-best marks in wins (19), games started (34), innings pitched (203.1), strikeouts (213) and ERA (3.81). He also let in more runs (88) and walks (75) than he ever has before. In life, you have to take the good with the bad and Eduardo’s good far outweighed the bad this year.

The Red Sox have some massive names on their roster and especially in the starting rotation. With names like Sale and David Price, it’s hard to believe that a number three could get promoted to being the top dog. But neither Sale or Price did much of anything this past season and both are coming off injury-filled years.

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We never got an answer as to what was actually wrong with Sale at the tail end of 2018 and this year only added more fuel to the injury fire. Price had moments of brilliance but would also see himself bounce between day-to-day status and the IL. It just wasn’t a good time whatsoever for either lefty and I think it may be time we see them bump down the rotation.

Sale and Price are both aces of the highest level but they will be 31 and 34 respectively and with injuries beginning to pile up it may be time for the Red Sox to make a move. I know that sounds ridiculous but the mystery surrounding the exact issues Sale is dealing without outside of generic sports medicine terms is a bit concerning. Especially considering Boston just gave him a massive contract extension this past winter.

For that reason alone we may see Sale get the call to open the season. It’s hard to have a guy earning $30M as your number two but to me, there are just too many questions swirling the health of the Condor. There’s a counter-argument in that salary though as Price is earning even more, $31M in 2020, and has been the second in command since Sale’s arrival.

Even if it’s just for one start, just for Opening Day, Eduardo has earned that spot based on his 2019 campaign. He was the only consistent starter the Red Sox sent out to the mound all season long. Not only did he have his best statistical year but he gave Boston a sigh of relief every fifth day.  Red Sox Nation has heard for years about E-Rod’s potential and it feels like he’s finally reaching it.

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Boston is in a serious transition away from the team that we know as they are trying to shave the payroll and build toward the future. One guy that can represent that movement to a new mantra is Eduardo Rodriguez. With everything he’s done the last two seasons for the Red Sox he’s more than earned this opportunity to shine on Opening Day. If I’m in Alex Cora’s shoes, there’s no other guy I want on the mound to kick off the new season than E-Rod.