The Boston Red Sox have nothing to lose in a shortened season.
There will be Boston Red Sox baseball this year. After weeks of speculation, Tuesday evening saw an agreement take place between MLB and the MLBPA on the 2020 season being played. July 1 has now been set as the date for players to report to training camp, with the regular season beginning on either July 23 or 24.
The regular season will consist of a 60-game schedule, largely including teams facing division rivals, with games outside of teams’ divisions being played against teams in similar geographical location, in order to reduce travel.
Since Jeff Passan and many other reporters got the news out, the deal was completed and we heard confirmation of this from numerous sources, including the MLBPA itself. With this news that everybody in baseball has been waiting on for months, we can finally look ahead to what remains of 2020 and begin to talk about the live baseball that is coming up.
For Boston, the shortened season will provide the club with an opportunity to make some noise on the field. There’s been so much said about the Red Sox since a baseball was last thrown whether it be linked to the sign-stealing scandal or the new front office and how they’ve gone about starting this rebuild with a number of large-scale moves. But, for the roster, this upcoming season is a chance to do some talking themselves on the diamond.
Nobody really predicted that the Red Sox were going to do anything of note in 2020. A lot of analysts had them around .500, some not even tipping them for third place finish in the AL East. A 60-game season could completely change what the Sox are going to be able to do now this year.
This short format could be beneficial for the team as it seemed like it was going to be a year where they weren’t going to make a legitimate run at the playoffs. We’ll never know if that was the case or not, but having to play significantly less games will allow a Sox lineup, which is still extremely good, to flourish straight off the bat and for the few months that we do have of the season.
The changed lineup which still includes the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and Andrew Benintendi will welcome in a fresh face in Alex Verdugo, who came over to Boston from Los Angeles in the Mookie Betts trade. Verdugo has been dealing with a stress fracture in his back which would’ve seen him miss the start of the MLB season. However, he’s now had three more months and will hopefully be ready to go come next month.
Now, Verdugo isn’t Betts, by any means, but as he takes the reigns in right field, his power bat will give the Sox lineup the weapon they so desperately need to take some of the workload that was left by Mookie’s departure.
With Chris Sale remaining out for the long-term, due to undergoing Tommy John surgery, earlier in the year will still mean that there are glaring weaknesses in the Red Sox rotation to go with their already thin bullpen, but with Eduardo Rodriguez expected to keep it going from his breakout year in 2019 and Nathan Eovaldi looking to bounce back, there’s still talent there as far as the top of the rotation goes.
Whatever positives came from this season, they were always going to have to be from an offensive standpoint and that doesn’t change three months down the line. The Red Sox are going to have to get hot out of the blocks if they’re going to want to change the narrative on this season and they definitely have the personnel to do so.