Evaluating the bright spots so far for the 2020 Red Sox.
It still feels weird that the 2020 MLB season is underway with no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Boston Red Sox have already completed 13 percent of the schedule without having a positive case since the season opened.
While the Red Sox remain in New York to take on the Yankees, they are currently 3-5. There have already been several ups and downs for Boston. The Red Sox played extremely well on Opening Day before dropping their next four games. They managed to win two straight against the Mets before dropping the first game against the Yankees. Although it’s been very frustrating at times for Red Sox fans, there have been many bright moments.
First of all, Nathan Eovaldi looks very good. After a horrible 2019 season where he was plagued with injuries, he has played very nicely to start the season. The Red Sox have won both of the games that he has started. On Opening Day, he gave up 5 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings to earn the win against the Orioles. In his second start, he went 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 2 earned runs to the Mets.
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If the Red Sox look to make the expanded playoffs in 2020, they are going to need success from their starting pitchers. Although the Red Sox only have three of them, seeing early success from Eovaldi is very refreshing for fans to watch.
Even though the other starters and the majority of the openers used thus far have not been great, Martin Perez can end up being another bright spot for this rotation. He really struggled in his start against the Orioles which was very frustrating to watch, but he did earn his first win of the season on Thursday. He pitched very well against the Mets, giving up only 2 hits and 2 earned runs in 5.2 innings. If he can get his stuff together for future starts, he should also be fun to watch.
The bullpen is another area that is still filled with many question marks. Some pitchers have really shined thus far while others have been very disappointing to watch.
On the bright side, Phillips Valdez has looked extremely good. Before the season started, most assumed he wouldn’t even be included on the active roster. Instead, he has appeared in three games thus far and has given up 4 hits and 0 earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched. The skinny right-hander has caught many people’s attention as he looks to sticks around on the major league roster for the whole season.
Another newcomer in the bullpen who has pitched very well is Zack Godley. The Red Sox just signed him on July 17 and he has only made one appearance this season, but he looks really good. After four scoreless innings, while striking out 7 on Monday, the Red Sox have added him to the rotation. He will get the start for the Red Sox today as they take on the Yankees. Although he only has a small sample size this season, he could end up remaining in the rotation if he continues to pitch well.
Out of the pitchers in the bullpen who have been on the team for several seasons, Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman (especially in his second appearance) both look good. Hembree has made 4 appearances this season and has already earned a win. He has only given up 1 hit and 0 earned runs in 3.1 combined innings. Hopefully he can continue to play well for Boston.
In Workman’s first three appearances (all in the Mets series), he has already earned two saves. He has given up 4 hits and 1 earned run in 3 innings pitched. After giving up a run in the 9th a day before, he pitched a scoreless inning on Thursday. He is 2-for-2 with save opportunities thus far. If he plays like he did last season, he will help the 2020 team out a lot.
For the batters, many of the newcomers have looked really good out of the gate. Kevin Pillar is one batter who has started the 2020 season hot. He was even promoted to the lead-off spot for yesterday’s game. So far this season, he is 9-for-22 (.409 average) with 1 home run and 5 runs batted in. He has been very pleasant to watch.
Alex Verdugo has also had a strong start to the season. He has slowed down a bit after going 3-for-4 in his first appearance this season, but he can be huge down the stretch for Boston. Hopefully he could face more at-bats with players on base, since he has no home runs and no runs batted in.
Jose Peraza has also caught many people off guard. He has started in every game thus far and has been moved around the lineup (even appearing as the lead-off batter). He is currently 9-for-32 after going 4-for-5 in his Red Sox debut. He has 3 runs batted in so far this season. Although Brock Holt is dearly missed, Peraza’s presence helps Boston out a lot.
Out of the returning batters for the Red Sox, most of the players that have exceeded expectations were unexpected. Christian Vazquez is currently tied for the most home runs in the majors. Right now, he is 8-for-23 (.348 average) with 4 home runs and 8 runs batted in. He is killing it right now.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has also played very well. He has started every game and has gone 8-for-23 with 3 runs batted in. He has had some very nice diving catches as well.
Although Mitch Moreland has only appeared in 4 games so far this season, he has also played well. He is 5 for 14 with 2 home runs and 5 runs batted in.
With the season still young, there is a lot to look out for, despite Boston’s under .500 winning percentage. Since 16 teams will qualify for the 2020 Postseason, the Red Sox would most likely have to perform around .500 in order to clinch a spot. Even though it’s been frustrating to watch at times, if the Red Sox get hot, they can definitely do damage this year.