Red Sox Opening Day: Predicting Boston’s 2021 starting rotation

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox high fives Nathan Eovaldi #17 and Darwinzon Hernandez #63 during a team workout on February 20, 2020 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox high fives Nathan Eovaldi #17 and Darwinzon Hernandez #63 during a team workout on February 20, 2020 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox starter Chris Sale
FT. MYERS, FL – FEBRUARY 21: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox reacts during a spring training team workout on February 21, 2021 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Red Sox Wild Card Starter

This is the part that may be the most exciting section of this whole thing. I have two wild card starters in mind that I think all of Red Sox Nation can get behind. The first for me is Chris Sale. The return of The Condor is all dependent on whether or not Boston has any chance at October baseball. It’s been made pretty clear by the organization that they won’t be rushing Sale back any time soon and if they’re well out of contention, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Sale is working his way back from Tommy John Surgery and with the wear and tear on his body, I wouldn’t think twice about holding him back for 2021 if the season is lost. Things have been progressing well for the southpaw with the nasty slider but it’s still smart to take their time if they want him strong for the remainder of his contract. On the other side of the coin, if the Red Sox are fighting for a Wild Card spot or are somehow already in the postseason, they’ll need Sale to go deep into October.

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At some point, I think we’ll see Sale back in the rotation but definitely not until the second half of the season. Boston has the weapons to get to the All-Star break which is when I believe we’ll start to hear the rumblings of The Stickman heading back to the mound.

The other wild card I have is beyond obvious, Tanner Houck. A guy who has been said to resemble a right-handed Sale blasted onto the scene in 2020 and more than impressed fans and the organization alike. He finished the year with a 3-0/0.53/17.0/0.882 line with an 11.1 K/.9, absolutely stunning for the rookie’s first go around in the Majors.

I was expecting him to make the Opening Day roster but as spring training progressed it felt like he’d be starting 2021 in Worcester at the alternate training site. But with the recent developments surrounding E-Rod, it looks like Houk-A-Mania may be running wild to kick-off the regular season. Houck is easily one of the most exciting and possibly best pitching prospects we’ve seen that doesn’t get the shine and hype. Instead, he goes out and does his job and gets the damn thing done.

Next. Houck's path to the Majors opening up. dark

The Red Sox have a big task at hand this season as they need to not only prove they’re not one of the worst teams in baseball but that they still have a strong pitching staff. With Opening Day right around the corner, the fun and excitement from spring training will soon turn to the seriousness of the regular season. Boston’s pitching staff may not be one of the prettiest in the league but Chaim Bloom has built a squad of guys that can light it up on any given night. The work has been done, the preparations complete, not it’s time to execute the game plan.