Boston Red Sox early surprise performances from 2020 spring training
By Sean Penney
On the pitching side, the most notable performance has been from Nathan Eovaldi. We know what he’s capable of but expectations were low after last year’s disaster. He looks healthy this spring with his fastball sitting in the upper-90s with pinpoint control.
Eovaldi hasn’t allowed a run in five innings of work, tallying eight strikeouts without issuing a walk. Boston is counting on him to boost their thin rotation and his dominance this spring has fans excited that he can reach his potential.
The No. 5 spot in the rotation is up for grabs and Ryan Weber has emerged as a clear candidate. He’s also tossed five shutout innings in two appearances, striking out seven without a walk.
Brian Johnson has put himself back in the picture. He leads the team with 6 1/3 innings pitched and has allowed only two earned runs for a 2.84 ERA to go along with eight strikeouts and one walk. Johnson is no longer on the 40-man roster but the Red Sox might need to find room for him considering their lack of pitching depth.
An underwhelming track record suggests Johnson is nothing more than a spot starter but he could eat some innings while the rotation deals with injuries. He could be in the mix if the Red Sox utilize the opener strategy, although Johnson’s 7.96 ERA in 26 career first-inning appearances should make us question if he can adapt to that role.
Pitchers are harder to evaluate this early in spring since their workload has been limited and they never pitch more than a few innings at a time. Pitchers also tend to be ahead of hitters early in camp.
Spring training results don’t necessarily predict regular season success but it can make a difference for those fighting for a roster spot or for players with something to prove in the wake of a disappointing 2019 campaign. These players may not stay hot for long but their early success could lead to more opportunities once the Red Sox wrap up camp at the end of the month.