Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale set to battle for Opening Day

MESA, AZ - MARCH 26: Chris Sale #41 and Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox look on before a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on March 26, 2019 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - MARCH 26: Chris Sale #41 and Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox look on before a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on March 26, 2019 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Which Red Sox ace will get the nod or Opening Day?

Baseball is back and it is so damn wonderful to be able to say those words. Finally, we can actually talk about reality and leave speculation in the past. The lockout has been lifted and the Red Sox are in Fort Myers as spring training is now underway. While the work is just beginning for the organization one narrative should be a focus of camp, who’s getting the ball for Opening Day.

The other night I tweeted on the BSI account that we’ll be seeing Chris Sale take the mound for the Red Sox in their season opener against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees in the Bronx. Now, I got plenty of support for my idea but many of you were quick to offer up another name, Nathan Eovaldi. First, I love Nasty Nate and he’s been more than we could’ve ever expected these last two years while carrying the rotation, but it’s hard to not get excited for Sale on Opening Day in New York.

It’s an awesome story when you look at it from a few different angles. Sale was the ace of the staff until injuries forced him to step aside to get healthy. In that time, Eovaldi emerged as the top dog in the rotation and carried the pitching staff for the last two seasons. Both have had to undergo Tommy John and are well aware of the gift that is their careers. The lefty can opt-out of his contract after this season while the fireballing righty is in the final year of his current deal.

Whether you’re Team Sale or Team Eovaldi, you won’t be disappointed. I can fully understand if Alex Cora goes with Evo once camp breaks due to what he’s done recently as the workhorse of the staff. On the other hand, what we saw from The Boogeyman after he made his return and marched through October is nothing short of inspiring and should get you amped up.

I will also toss in the salaries of both pitchers though I’m sure we’re all exhausted with money talk at this point. The southpaw is set to earn a cool $30M in 2022 with the right-hander coming in at a much less staggering $17M. Both command ace starter money but with Sale nearly doubling Eovaldi’s wage it’s hard to not factor that into the discussion. You’re not paying the man $30M to not be your top starter.

Salary shouldn’t be a deciding factor but I could see it being in the equation with the way Chaim Bloom runs this club. Each has a history with getting the ball for the Red Sox on Opening Day and is more than ready to give it their all to earn the honor again in 2022. Sale most recently got the call to kick off the 2019 season and Boston’s championship defense while Eovaldi had the ball to open both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

In their most recent attempts at getting Boston off on the right foot each faltered and the team would walk away with the loss. The Condor was battered by the Seattle Mariners and lasted a mere three innings where he gave up seven earned on six hits. Nasty Nate would have a slightly better day tossing 5 1/3 innings while giving up just one run on four hits in the losing effort.

So where do we go from here? Each has their claim to the spot in the starting rotation and I don’t think anyone is expecting either to back down in spring training. The two have a great relationship and I for one am looking forward to the friendly rivalry that may form with Opening Day on the line. At the end of the day both have the same goal in mind, win.

We’ve seen each man empty their gas tanks and pitch their damn arms off for this club and I expect nothing less in 2022. I have full confidence in both and will be rooting for either one of course. But, I will say that I’m pulling a little more in Sale’s direction, it would be the perfect punctuation to his comeback story. Obviously, adding another Commissioner’s Trophy wouldn’t hurt but I think adding Opening Day starter to your resume again after what he’s gone through is a hell of a start.

Next. 10 reasons to get excited for the 2022 Red Sox. dark