Red Sox biggest weakness heading into the 2021 season

There continues to be one clear weakness for the Red Sox

Opening Day is approaching and the Red Sox are set to host the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game set to get the 2021 season underway. The Sox finished the Spring with a 16-11 record but it was mostly credited to their lineup putting up runs in bunches on a consistent basis. That is what the Red Sox will have to worry about when entering this season, as their starting pitching is clearly their biggest weakness heading into the season.

With Chris Sale on the shelf for at least the first couple of months recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez most likely starting the year on the injured list, Boston has a lot of question marks regarding their rotation.

Nathan Eovaldi will be the Opening Day starter followed by Tanner Houck, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez.

There is not one guy on that list that has the ability to become an ace at the moment. The guy most likely to hold down the fort is Eovaldi, as he was asked to do that last year without both Sale and E-Rod, and put together a solid campaign with a 4-2 record with a 3.72 ERA.

Houck has promise and in a small sample size last year produced a 3-0 record with a 0.53 ERA, suggesting he can be exactly what the team needs. However, is it so unknown if he has what it takes to pitch an entire season, and put up respectable numbers. The most innings he has ever pitched in the minors was 119 which dates back to the 2018 season.

His command is also something that is a little concerning. Houck walked 11 batters in 10.2 innings during the Spring and posted a 5.06 ERA. Of course, it is no fair to judge off a bad Spring but at the same time with Houck, it is because there are not a lot of statistics to support that he will come in and be a sure thing.

Pivetta is a similar story and his track record does not make you feel comfortable depending on him every five days, at least until E-Rod returns. He hasn’t logged 100 innings or posted an ERA under 5.00 since 2018. He is basically somebody you are just going to have to hold your breath every time he toes the rubber.

Then you have Richards who barely hit 200 innings combined since 2016, and we all know how he has trouble staying healthy. All we can hope is that he can show some signs of his 2014 and 2015 seasons and manage to avoid any long-term injuries, as it will be the first 162 game season for him since coming back from elbow surgery.

Lastly is Perez and there is honestly not a whole lot of concern, but he is not someone who is going to carry your rotation by any means. He will eat innings, which the Sox desperately need, as he has gone over 160 innings three times since 2016. His best ERA in that span is 4.39 but we already know his role as he has always been viewed as a bottom of the rotation type of pitcher.

The club, of course, has a lot more strengths than you would think but we have to be concerned that this starting rotation could make or break their season. They must start hot and not fall behind early because their arm talent is simply not good enough to bounce back if they do start slow.

There’s a lot relying on not just the rotation but the bullpen as well and they will have to be prepared to go in at any point of the game because you just do not know how these guys will perform. Luckily they go against the Orioles for the first three games, so it will be a nice team to go up against and ease into the season.

After their starting five, there is not much depth in the event that one of these guys goes down with an injury. If that happens, it will be 2020 all over again. The only other player that could be considered to start games is Matt Andriese. However, he just seems like a better fit and would be more effective in the long reliever role. Alex Cora already wrote off bullpen games this year so that means he is at least confident in the rotation that he has right now.

Not trying to be a Debby Downer here but we must understand and keep in mind that this is not a flashy pitching rotation. They need at least one or two of these guys to exceed expectations and over perform if they want to compete in the AL East.