Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez will take the mantle of ace in 2020

The Boston Red Sox are suffering as far as their starting rotation is concerned, but Eduardo Rodriguez is stepping up to become the new ace of the staff.

The baseball world is at a standstill as the effects of the Coronavirus are being felt throughout the world. It was announced yesterday afternoon that the remainder of spring training will be halted while Opening Day will be postponed for at least two weeks. Just as things were ramping up for the Red Sox with the season on the horizon, we now have to wait.

For Boston, this could be a blessing and a curse as the regular season approaches. The delay will afford both Chris Sale and Collin McHugh some extra time to heal their respective injuries. As far as the negative sign of the coin, this may cause the Dynamic Duo of the Red Sox to cool down. Both Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi have been unhittable during spring training, with E-Rod taking massive steps forward.

The southpaw already saw a promotion to the number two spot in the rotation with the departure of David Price. Now with Sale on the shelf for the foreseeable future, he’s now slated to be the man on the mound for Opening Day. His spring training has been nothing short of spectacular as he has built upon the strong campaign he put forth in 2019.

E-Rod has a staggering 1.64 ERA through 11 IP in three starts this spring. What’s even more impressive about those numbers is his 2/20 BB/K ratio. This guy is out there sitting down ten batters for every single hitter that he walks. One of Rodriguez’s weaknesses in past seasons has been his walk totals, but it looks like that may not be an issue in 2020.

Red Sox Nation saw the emergence of Rodriguez as someone that Boston can get behind every fifth day. “Potential” was always the word used to describe Eduardo and I think through the hard work he’s finally reaching those levels. Considering how much he had to step up last season while Sale and Price were barely present and Eovaldi missed most of the season, this year should be a breeze.

We got a glimpse at the greatness that “Eddie Aces” could achieve if he put all of the puzzle pieces together. A 19-6 record through 34 starts and 203.1 innings last season put him sixth in the Cy Young voting. With what he’s done so far during spring training, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him climb in the ranks and be a top contender.

Being an ace is more than just going out every fifth day and putting in the innings. An ace is also the leader of the staff and has to be the backbone. We saw that with Sale during the 2018 World Series when he wasn’t able to pitch to his abilities. He didn’t sulk or sit in a corner, he stood up and gave his team a kick in the backside to get them fired up. We all know how that series would turn out.

Luckily for Eduardo, he’s a member of a veteran staff that has seen and done it all in this game. This will allow him to focus on his days while also motivating his fellow pitchers, pretty much the best of both worlds. The lefty will also have the ball in essentially every major game for the Red Sox this season, pending Sale’s recovery. He has another year of arbitration ahead of him before free agency in 2022, this season could mean big money.

Per Baseball-Reference, Rodriguez is projected to see fewer innings and strikeouts in 2020, while also decreasing his walk total and WHIP. So he would see some bad numbers go down while the good ones also fall. A real mixed bag performance-wise, but if we know anything about E-Rod, he will aim to prove those projections wrong.

Ahead of last season, his stated goal was to hit 20 wins as well as 200 innings. He was able to surpass that inning total but fell short on the wins thanks to a blown save in game 162. While in spring training he once again made it clear that he wants those 20 wins and to crush those 200 innings.

“ERA, wins, the rest is going to happen somehow,” Rodriguez said. “If you go 200 innings, you’re going to have a really good ERA.”

I recently wrote about how I thought Eduardo would shine with Sale on the sidelines, but after his last start, I think we may see a bit of a role reversal. With Sale’s health a massive question ahead of 2020 it’s possible he and E-Rod could flip positions. I know it sounds odd with The Condor’s hefty salary but Eduardo is earning that top-dog spot.

In what will be his final start of this rendition of spring training saw Rodriguez go 4.0IP/6H/1BB/10K, absolutely stunning stuff. He’s more than earned his slot as the number one starter going into 2020 and I honestly think it’s a role he’ll thrive in.

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The Red Sox are lucky that they have a pitcher that is ready to slot in for Chris Sale in the possibility that he won’t be back soon. Eduardo Rodriguez has grown into one hell of a pitcher and he’s showing that he can be a rock in the Boston pitching staff. Not only can he be a suitable first man in the rotation but he can also lead this team back to October baseball.