Last year, the Red Sox were the underdogs of the season. They boasted a 92-70 record and were only two wins shy of a World Series appearance before losing to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. Compared to their 2020 season, which was shortened due to COVID-19, this underdog story was extremely surprising, since Boston finished that season with an abysmal 24-36 record.
Most of this current offseason was lost due to the lockout by the owners and players union over a dispute about the collective bargaining agreement. This stopped teams from making free agency moves for months until they came to an agreement last month. Even though their start wasn’t traditional, the Red Sox made one of the bigger splashes in their shortened offseason. They brought in two-time all-star, 29-year-old Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies. Story has played shortstop his whole career but will transition to second base, as the Red Sox still have Xander Bogaerts at that position. He also provides another strong bat to an already stacked lineup.
The Red Sox also brought back Jackie Bradley Jr. to the squad after spending last year with Milwaukee. Bradley Jr. played his first eight seasons with the Red Sox, and he’ll look to add his stellar defense and streaky bat to the lineup.
Nathan Eovaldi will get the role of ace since Chris Sale is starting the season yet again on the injured list for the third season in a row. This year he suffers from a stress fracture on his ribcage which will keep him out for a minimum of two months. When healthy, Sale has the potential to be one of the elite pitchers in the AL, being a seven-time all-star, but has only made 34 starts over three years.
Joining Eovaldi in picking up the slack for Sale in the rotation are Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck and newcomers Michael Wacha and Rich Hill. Entering his second full season in Boston, Pivetta slides into the number two position in the rotation and is looking to improve upon his decent season last year. The young Houck will look to build off a solid rookie season last year where he posted a 3.52 ERA in 69 innings of work. Wacha faced the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and has had a boom or bust-like season ever since. Let’s hope this season is the first option. Hill is now 42-years-old and was formerly with Boston from 2010 to 2012. He has had a very strong career, posting an ERA above four only five times in his 17-year career.
Manager Alex Cora recently said that the bullpen is the weakest part of the roster. The team has no true closer and may try a committee approach with Matt Barnes, Garret Whitlock and Ryan Brasier. Other key contributors should include Hirokazu Sawamura, Phillips Valdez and free agents Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm. Look for them to add help near the trade deadline.
With being in the extremely tough AL East, it will be very difficult to win the division, but the Red Sox should be in contention for a playoff spot. The MLB added another wild card spot for each league, so this should help their season. They have as much talent as anyone, so prepare for a fun summer, and hopefully a long October.