What Happened to E-Rod?

For the fourth time in five games, Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez failed to pitch five innings. While he struck out eight Atlanta Braves hitters in only four innings, he gave up six hits and four runs. After seeing his ERA stand at 3.82 on May 7th, E-Rod has seen that number jump up to 6.21. For a guy that was suppose to be the team’s ace with Chris Sale injured, it’s been a really tough year for the lefty. Nobody seems to have an answer either.

After last night’s game, manager Alex Cora could not offer any explanation on what’s going on with Rodriguez.

“Right now, I don’t know. Honestly, I think stuff-wise he’s good. The changeup was good, velocity was good, elevated fastball was good,” Cora said according to NESN. “He wasn’t able to finish them off in that spot and he needs to be more aggressive in that situation with the ninth hitter there with a pinch-hitter. And that walk put us in a bad spot.”

E-Rod

So, what has changed since we saw Rodriguez win 19 games in 2019 and had an ERA of 3.82?

Bad Luck?

Rodriguez currently has his highest career K/9 rate (10.53), and his lowest BB/9 (2.43). His 1.35 HR/9 would tie his career high but that’s not far from his norm. While his ERA is 6.21, his fielder independent pitching (FIP) is 3.63, indicating that he has done better than his ERA suggests.

This season hitters are batting .294 against Rodriguez, much higher than his career average of .248. Opponents are also hitting an absurd .380 on balls in play, a full .076 higher than throughout Rodriguez’s career. That high figure could indicate that he is suffering from some bad luck and a not-so-great defense. It is realistic to expect those figures to drop as the season goes on.

More Line Drives

While Rodriguez has been fairly good a limiting fly balls and home runs, he is not getting the same number of ground balls that he usually does. In 2019, 19 percent of batted balls against him were classified as line drives, whereas 48.5 percent were ground balls, according to Fangraphs. This season line drives have jumped to 25 percent and ground balls have dropped to 41.7 percent. What is Rodriguez doing different this year to allow that?

Fewer and Slower Fastballs

For one, he is throwing his fastball at an all-time low and is relying on his off-speed pitches more often. According to Fangraphs, this is the first season where Rodriguez is throwing his fastball less than 50 percent of the time. He went from throwing his slider 4.3 percent of the time in 2019 to 9 percent in 2021. His change-up percentage is also at a career high at 24.6 percent. It is important to note that his average fastball velocity is under 93 MPH for the first time in his career as well at 92.5.

Maybe E-Rod is still working back from his elbow inflammation early in the season. Maybe he is still working on mechanics after missing a full season. There is no way around how bad a 6.21 ERA is, but it’s unlikely to stay that high all year. At some point, those line drives are going to average out and he will give up fewer hits. Even with the dip in velocity, it’s not far from his average where he can’t bring it back up. It’s been a bleak season for Rodriguez, but there is still plenty of time and potential to turn things around.

The Keys to Beating New York

While it may not be a battle for first place, this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees will be a major test for the Red Sox. With a relatively easy schedule up to this point in the season, Boston will be tested against some of the AL’s best teams in June. Despite New York going 3-7 in its last 10 games, Boston can’t afford to slip up. Up 2.5 games on the Yankees, the Red Sox will need to win at least one game to hold onto second place. Ideally, if Boston can win the series, they will be able to separate themselves and solidify their spot in the Wild Card race. In order to prepare yourself for the series, here are a few keys for Boston to win this series.

1. Score Early as Possible

Boston is fortunate that New York’s best two starters, Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber, won’t appear in the series. Instead, they will face Michael King, who has started only one game this year. They’ll also face Jameson Taillon, sporting a 5.10 ERA, and Domingo German. It will be important for Boston to get ahead early because New York’s strength lies in the bullpen. Yankee relievers have a combined 2.82 ERA which is third best in the league. Closer Aroldis Chapman has 12 saves to go along with 0.41 ERA.

Yankees

2. Shut Down the Big Hitters

Due to injuries throughout the lineup, the Yankees offense doesn’t look as scary as it did earlier in the season. Nevertheless, Red Sox pitchers will need to focus in on a few hitters in order to shut down New York. Aaron Judge has been as dangerous as ever. The outfielder leads New York in just about every major offensive category, including home runs with 13 and batting average at .289. Third baseman Miguel Andujar has also been hot lately. He has hit three home runs and is hitting .292 in his last seven games. If Boston can keep the ball in the ballpark and shut these two down, the Yankee offense will have a tough time scoring.

3. E-Rod Returning to Form

Out of the three starters Boston is sending out in the series, Eduardo Rodriguez is the only one with an ERA over 5.00. The lefty has lost his last four outings and gave up six runs against Houston earlier this week. With a lineup hitting almost exclusively from the right side, this will be the one game to expect Yankee hitters to be aggressive. Rodriguez doesn’t have to be perfect, but Boston will need him to keep the game close for 5-6 innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen.

Reevaluating the Starting Rotation Two Months into Season

After a disastrous 2020 season where Red Sox starters finished the season with a 5.34 ERA, the rotation has stepped up in a huge way. This season, the rotation has improved its ERA to 4.03, over a full run better. Whereas 16 guys made a start for Boston last season, the team has not had to experiment with different starters and has basically used five guys throughout the season. While the starting rotation is far from perfect, it’s refreshing to have starting pitchers who give the team a chance to win every game. Let’s take a look at how each starter has fared so far this season.

Eduardo Rodriguez

His last few starts have been bad, but having E-Rod back has been big for this team. The rotation was a mess last year without him and Chris Sale. Nobody expected him to be an ace, but Rodriguez is capable of improving on his 4.70 ERA. With an FIP of 3.29, he may be a victim of bad luck and could see improvement later in the season.

Garrett Richards

Expectations weren’t huge for Richards coming into the season and many were ready to cut him after a terrible first start of the season. It wasn’t until his 10-strikeout game against the Mets that Richards was able to prove his value. Once Chris Sale returns don’t be surprised to see Richards take on a role in the struggling bullpen.

Nick Pivetta

Pivetta is the biggest surprise on this team and has a case to be the team’s best pitcher. The Red Sox are 8-1 in games he’s started and he is currently 5-0 on the year. He leads the team in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.4 and has the second best ERA with 3.59.

Martin Perez

Perez has also improved greatly from last season. Despite having an ERA of 4.50 last season, the Red Sox re-signed him to fill out the end of the rotation for 2021. Perez has rewarded Boston with improving his ERA by about one run, currently sitting at 3.55.

Nathan Eovaldi

Ironically, the guy tabbed to be the ace of team is one of two starters with an ERA over 4.00. Despite the high ERA, Eovaldi leads the rotation in strikeouts and has been fairly consistent all year. He has been great keeping the ball in the ballpark, giving up only one home run to this point in the season.

This is far from a great starting rotation, but it is good enough for the team to be competitive.  With an above average offense, the Red Sox just need their starters to keep the game close for 5-6 innings. This the return of Chris Sale and potentially Tanner Houck on the horizon, the rotation will only get better for the second half of the season.

Looking At The 2020 Red Sox Roster

We are closing in on Opening Day for Major League Baseball. The 2020 Red Sox roster will look different this season, mainly because of the protocols that are in place for COVID-19. Major League teams will be allowed to carry 30 players on the active roster, while having other players at an alternative site. For the Red Sox, that alternative site will be McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. Here, players will be waiting for the call up to Boston. At McCoy, players will be able to workout and practice so that they will be ready in case they have to go to Boston.

Like 2020, this season will be different for the Red Sox. The 2020 Red Sox roster will startred sox roster 2020 off with 30 players, then go down to 28, and end with 26 after a month. While there won’t be an All-Star Game, and we won’t get a chance to see certain teams like the Astros or the Dodgers, there will be a trade deadline at the end of August. The fun begins on Friday, so let’s see what the Red Sox will be bringing to the table.

Breaking Down The 2020 Red Sox Roster

At the catcher’s position, odds are the Red Sox will have Christian Vazquez, Jonathan Lucroy and Kevin Plawecki on the roster. The Red Sox brought in Lucroy and Plawecki this past offseason on one year deals, following the trade of Sandy Leon. They will be fighting for the prime backup catcher position once the rosters go back down to 26, unless Ron Roenicke plans to keep all three catchers.

The infield will have many familiar faces in it. Mitch Moreland will be at first base, Xander Bogaerts at short stop, and Rafael Devers at third base. Michael Chavis will be on the roster, and most likely be platooning with Moreland at first. The Red Sox brought in Jose Pereza this past offseason to play second base. Tzu-Wei Lin and Jonathan Arauz will also be key utility infielders for Boston.

The Red Sox outfield has a few new faces in it. Joining Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr are Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar. Red Sox fans will remember Pillar, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants. Verdugo, who came to Boston in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade, will be looking to make a name for himself in the outfield.

The Red Sox have their designated hitter in slugger JD Martinez. After signing a five-year deal prior to the 2018 season, Martinez has decided to stay in a Red Sox uniform for the 2020 season, despite the opt out option in his contract.

The Starting Rotation and Bullpen

Right now going into the 2020 season, the Red Sox have Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber and Brian Johnson in their starting rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez will be joining the rotation at some point during the season, but there isn’t an exact timetable on that yet. Rodriguez didn’t report to camp until recently due to recovering from COVID-19. The Red Sox brought in Collin McHugh in March to fill in for a rotation spot, but he opted out of the 2020 season due to an arm injury. McHugh, who had elbow issues entering the season, didn’t think he would be ready for the 2020 season.

The Red Sox bullpen will look similar to last season, with a few new faces in the mix. Closer Brandon Workman is back for his role with the Red Sox. So will Matt Barnes, Ryan Braiser, Marcus Walden, and Colten Brewer. Newcomers Josh Osich, Jeffrey Springs, Chris Mazza, Austin Brice and Matt Hall will be looking to make a name for themselves in Boston this season.

The Week Ahead

The Red Sox play two exhibition games starting Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Ryan Weber will get the ball for Boston, and Nate Pearson will get the ball for Toronto. Both games will be at 7:30pm.

The Red Sox will have an off day on Thursday, before welcoming the Baltimore Orioles to Fenway Park for Opening Day. Ron Roenicke announced recently that Nathan Eovaldi will be the Opening Day starter for Boston, since Eduardo Rodriguez is still getting ready for the season following a delayed start. John Means will be Baltimore’s Opening Day starter this season.

A Week Away From Opening Day 2020

Yes, we are officially one week from Opening Day 2020. While the Red Sox won’t be starting on July 23rd, they will be starting on July 24th at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Unlike in previous seasons, this one is a bit unusual for the average baseball fan. For one thing, the Red Sox will be playing against the American League and the National League East. Also, it’s July, who had Opening Day in July on their COVID-19 Bingo board?

Back in March when the season was put on hold, we never thought that this day wouldopening day 2020 come. Well, here we are a week away from Opening Day 2020. Pitchers in the zone looking for that strikeout, hitters looking for that game winning hit. Fans, well, fans won’t be apart of the 2020 season in the stadiums. While COVID is still here, MLB won’t be allowing fans inside of any of the stadiums during games. I know, it’s not normal. However, it’s 2020.

Opening Day 2020 for the Red Sox

The Red Sox will be starting the season at home, with three games against the Baltimore Orioles and two games against the New York Mets. This Opening Day won’t have a 2pm start time. The games for most MLB teams will either start at 7:30pm or 1:30pm. This is mainly due to the fact that MLB wants more fans to watch at home. Also, Opening Day is on a Thursday and a Friday this year, which is also a first. Thursday’s Opening Day lineup will consist of the Yankees vs the Nationals, and the Giants vs the Dodgers. The rest of Major League Baseball will begin on Friday.

While the Red Sox don’t have a clear vision of what their rotation will look like, it is looking as though Nathan Eovaldi is going to be named the Opening Day 2020 starter vs Baltimore’s John Means. Eovaldi, who will be entering his second full season with the Red Sox, was 2-1 last season in 23 games, 12 of which were starts. Between Spring Training and the Summer Camp at Fenway, Eovaldi looks like a clear cut candidate to have the ball on opening day. Also, with the Red Sox placing Eduardo Rodriguez on the ten day injured list, it’s a no brainer.

 The Rest of 2020

When Major League baseball came out with the improved 2020 schedule, it was known that teams will be playing within their division and their areas. For the Red Sox, they will be playing 20 interleague games, first against the Mets at Fenway Park, then against the Phillies in August. The Red Sox will finish off the season with a three-game series in Atlanta against the Braves.

This is going to be a challenging season for the Red Sox. With the loss of Rick Porcello to the Mets, and with Mookie Betts and David Price being traded to the Dodgers, the Red Sox will look a bit different this season. One thing that the Red Sox need to do though is find a way to beat the Yankees. Right now, the Yankees are on a revenge tour of sorts. After losing the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros last October, the Bronx Bombers are looking to get back into the postseason, and win their 28th World Series Championship.

How Will the Red Sox Fair in 2020?

We are one week away from the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. For teams like the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees, that means getting back into the playoffs. As for the Red Sox, they are not looking like postseason contenders, even with a shorter season. How will the Red Sox fair in 2020? Well, right now, the World Series odds for the 2020 Red Sox are actually worse than what they were back in March. This past offseason saw some big names leave the Red Sox organization, with Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, and Mookie Betts and David Price were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rival New York Yankees on the other hand, signed the biggest fish in the free agency pond in Gerrit Cole. 

During the offseason, the Red Sox had to rework their system. With the firing of Davered sox fair Dombrowski in September, they needed a new President of Baseball Operations. Near the end of October, the Red Sox got their guy in Chaim Bloom. Prior to joining Boston, Bloom was the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. Now the Chief Baseball Officer for the Red Sox, Bloom was tasked with trying to get the Red Sox back into the postseason. From trading catcher Sandy Leon, to signing infielder Jose Peraza and pitcher Martin Perez, fans were left scratching their heads. Key players like Rick Porcello and Brock Holt signed with new teams, and the Red Sox did not look the same prior to Spring Training. 

How the Red Sox Fair in 2020 Is a Matter of Chance

In January of 2020, the Red Sox were hit by the Houston Astros cheating scandal, when former manager Alex Cora was named in the report in regards to Houston’s involvement in cheating during the 2017 season. Cora was the bench coach for Houston at the time, and was one of the main people who was involved in the scandal. This lead to Cora resigning from the Red Sox, and left a hole in the manager position with less than a month before Spring Training. Between finding a new manager, and trading Mookie Betts and David Price, the Red Sox seem to be in rebuilding mode. 

While the rest of the American League East has fallen silent, the New York Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. They brought back veteran outfielder Brett Gardner with a one year contract, and signed Gerrit Cole to a massive nine year, $324 million dollar contract. This contract is the richest contract that has ever been given to a Major League Baseball player. Cole finished the 2019 season 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. While he didn’t get a ring with the Houston Astros, he did pretty well in the 2019 season. The new ace of the Yankees is looking to improve upon his 2019 season in 2020. While the Yankees are down one starting pitcher with Luis Severino out with Tommy John surgery, they still have plenty of weapons in their arsenal. 

The Difference Between the Red Sox and the Yankees

With Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, David Price being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chris Sale having Tommy John surgery in April, the Red Sox only have three reliable starters in Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez. Granted, the Red Sox did sign starting pitcher Collin McHugh before COVID-19 shut down the season. However, manager Ron Roenicke stated that McHugh might not be ready for the start of the season.  The Yankees on the other hand, have a full five man rotation, plus a few relievers that can start at a moment’s notice. Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have been scrambling to try and find a few good starting pitchers for the Red Sox, but as of now, there is currently an audition in Boston to see who will be starting this season. While the Red Sox do have a solid starting lineup with JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, pitching, whether it’s from the starting rotation or the bullpen, is what is going to be important in this short season. 

For the Yankees, they too have a solid starting lineup with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit. Over the past few seasons, the big three of the New York Yankees have been a force in their lineup. Catcher Gary Sanchez has been a force in the Yankees lineup since he came onto the scene in 2015. Last season, despite committing fifteen errors as a catcher, he was named the American League All Star for the second time. Sanchez also hit 34 homeruns with 77 RBI’s. His career fielding percentage is .988% in his four seasons so far with the Yankees. Aaron Judge is the big name around the Big Apple, and last season kept crushing it both defensively and offensively. The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019, as well as hit his 100th career home run. In total, he hit .272 with 27 homeruns and 62 RBI’s in the 2019 campaign. Luke Voit, unlike Sanchez and Judge, didn’t start his career with the Yankees. The Yankees acquired him from the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 2018 trade deadline. In 157 games with the Yankees as a first baseman, Voit has 35 homeruns and 95 RBI’s, and he only keeps getting better and better each time he steps up to the plate. 

A few things have been keeping the Yankees apart from the Red Sox over the past few years. The Red Sox have won two World Series Championships since 2010, but the Yankees haven’t won since 2009. The first thing is the Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. The signing of Gerrit Cole this past offseason, as well as the signings of DJ LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton prior to the 2019 season are proof that the Yankees want to add championship number 28 to their circle. In a way, the Yankees keep looking for that new puzzle piece, whereas the Red Sox keep looking to rebuild after winning a championship. 

How Will The Red Sox Fair in 2020?

Will the Red Sox do well in the short 2020 season? Only time can tell that. Right now, it’s not looking good for the nine time World Series Champions. With the schedule being mainly the American and National League East teams, it will be an uphill challenge for the Red Sox, especially with the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals in their schedule. The Yankees on the other hand, are out to win. After losing to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship series last postseason, many on the Yankees are looking to climb over that hurdle and make it into the 2020 World Series. Bringing in Cole to their rotation, and having a healthy lineup and bullpen is what will set them apart from the rest of the teams in the American League East. Many might say to not count the Red Sox out of the race, however, statistics don’t lie, and as of right now, the Red Sox have a mountain to climb.