Phillips Valdez Looks to Build on Successful 2020 Seasonby Jamie Gatlin December 9, 2020 2 comments
For the Boston Red Sox, 2020 was a year to largely forget as they finished last in the AL East. Despite their struggles, there were still some bright spots, such as Phillips Valdez. The Red Sox reliever began the year with modest expectations after being claimed off waivers and became one of Boston’s biggest surprises. With Spring Training only months away, the expectations will be higher for the third year reliever.
In Valdez’s first year in Boston, he made 24 appearances and posted a 3.24 ERA. In 30.1 innings of work, the Red Sox righty struck out thirty batters and only allowed one home run. Early on in the season, Valdez became Boston’s most trusted arm and had the second most appearances out of the bullpen. Ryan Brasier lead the team with 25.
At least Phillips Valdez continues to be a bright spot for 2020…
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) August 16, 2020
Additionally, Valdez was dominant in the first two months of the season. Through his first 14 appearances, Valdez only allowed two earned runs, one of which was a home run. Unlike the majority of the Red Sox pitching staff Valdez was able to limit the longball. While the Dominican native impressed in his first season with the Red Sox, he did struggle in the final month.
Furthermore, In Valdez’s first two September appearances, he allowed six earned runs. The Red Sox reliever also allowed two home runs in that span, doubling his total from the season’s first two months. However, Valdez was able to return to form and only allowed three earned runs for the rest of the month. The second-year reliever showed that he could overcome adversity on a team that was full of question marks.
Phillips Valdez just change-up'd Juan Soto to death pic.twitter.com/ID1WEtUogg
— Dan O'Mara (@Dan_OMara) August 30, 2020
Expectations for 2021
As Chaim Bloom shapes the Red Sox roster, pitching will be a priority. The bullpen is far from being completed, but there are a few options on the free-agent market. The Red Sox have shown interest in some of the pitchers available, including Trevor May before he signed with the Mets. However, having Valdez on the roster makes gives Boston an internal late innings option. He won’t be Boston’s closer, but he will most likely get a shot at the seventh or eighth inning role.
Additionally, Valdez will most likely see an increased workload next year. How he handles that will determine how successful he is as Boston looks to return to the postseason. It is a challenge that Valdez is prepared to handle as he looks to repeat his 2020 numbers. Regardless of what role Valdez is given, he will be an essential piece.