The Two Aces
Last but not least, I can’t have a list of things I’m looking forward to seeing in the upcoming season without including some pitchers. I think I speak for most, if not all of Red Sox Nation when I say that for something like the seventh year in a row, I’m not expecting anything out of the bullpen. They’re continually neglected by the front office, they are who they are, and they will most likely be as much of a liability as they have been the last several seasons.
My focus is on the (suddenly thin) starting rotation and in particular, my two favorite pitchers on the team. The first is the undisputed ace of the staff (when healthy) and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball (again, when healthy), Chris Sale.
When Sale is on and he’s dealing, he’s as dominating and fun to watch as Pedro Martinez was in his Red Sox prime. Even when he was battling injuries in 2019 and not getting any run support, Sale could deliver gems like his back-to-back starts where he whiffed seventeen in one and fourteen in the other.
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The concern with Sale is that he’s broken down in the second half of each of the last three seasons. He’s a very tall, very slenderly built 31-year-old pitcher who has a very unorthodox delivery and has battled shoulder issues.
I worry about his long-term health as a pitcher, especially as he begins the first year of the five-year extension he signed last year. The Red Sox are going to need him to stay healthy and dominant this season if they’re going to have any shot at contending.
The other pitcher I can’t wait to watch is Eduardo Rodriguez. After teasing us for years with glimpses of what he could be, E-Rod put it all together in 2019 and was the undisputed ace of the staff. He finally matured as a pitcher and had the best season of his career, even flirting with twenty wins before being let down by the always suspect bullpen in the final game of the season.
The big thing I’m looking forward to with Rodriguez is seeing if he can keep it going or get even better in 2020 (and beyond). Will his 2019 season be an outlier or is this who he is now going forward? I’m hoping it’s the latter because he’s got such good stuff that it would really help the Red Sox if he’s truly figured it all out. With Rick Porcello leaving in free agency and David Price gone in the Mookie Money Dump (TM), E-Rod is now the number two starter and the Sox will need him to pitch like it.