With Opening Day a mere weeks away, the Red Sox will be looking to turn the page on 2020. The Boston roster looks very different than just a year ago, thanks to offseason moves and some familiar faces returning from injuries.
One player who will be key to Boston’s success is Eduardo Rodriguez. The veteran starter missed all of 2020 due to COVID-19 and myocarditis. Without one of their best rotation arms, the Red Sox struggled and should get a boost with his return.
Heading into last season, Rodriguez was coming off of his best season in the majors, winning a career-high 19 games and striking out 213 batters in 2019. The Venezuelan proved his value and was Boston’s top pitcher. Despite missing all of last season, he will enter 2021 as the staff ace.
Though the lefty is in uncharted territory, he has arrived at Spring Training at 100 percent and ready to contribute.
— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) December 16, 2020
Last season, Rodriguez’s health was the first priority. The Sox will be cautious with him as he rebuilds his arm strength and resumes baseball activities. The key rotation cog has arrived at camp motivated, and when asked about the team’s playoff chances, he said “Don’t sleep on us.”
As the 2021 season progresses, Rodriguez will be watched closely. Although he will be eased back into the rotation, his presence should provide a significant upgrade. The pitcher has been able to throw bullpen sessions without experiencing fatigue; a welcome sign. The Red Sox also re-hired Alex Cora, with whom he has a strong relationship.
So far in Spring Training, the left-hander has passed every test. In a bullpen session on Tuesday, he was reportedly in 2019 form and did not have any issues. The Red Sox are hoping that becomes a common trend as Opening Day inches closer.
Red Sox notes, per Cora:
* Rodriguez, Pivetta, Mata threw live BPs today
* Rodriguez looked good, like 2019 form
* Pivetta has a lot of upside, and keeps improving
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 23, 2021
During the offseason, Boston has focused on improving their depth, with additions like righty Garrett Richards. If Rodriguez can return to his previous form, that will arguably be their biggest addition. Regardless of how he performs in the coming weeks, he will be the Red Sox’s most closely watched player.
As the club prepares for the 2021 season, Rodriguez will be looking to prove that he is fully healthy. After a long recovery, he has placed himself in a position to succeed, and thus far the Red Sox have had only positive news about one of their key players.