When the Red Sox claimed Phillips Valdez off waivers last season, it was not seen as a major move. Valdez was coming off a solid major debut but had been designated for assignment by two teams. In 2020, however, he was one of the team’s best relievers and will enter the 2021 season with high expectations. As the Red Sox look to return to the postseason, pitching will be key. Valdez will be one of the arms Boston relies on.
In Valdez’s first season with the Red Sox, he posted a 3.26 ERA in 24 appearances. The Red Sox righty also struck out 30 batters in 30.1 innings of work and allowed three home runs. Although batters hit .282 against Valdez, he only allowed eleven earned runs all season. In a bullpen that was one of the baseballs worst, he was one of the few reliable pieces.
At least Phillips Valdez continues to be a bright spot for 2020…
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) August 16, 2020
Through two major league seasons, Valdez has posted a 3.50 ERA. In 2020 Valdez’s statistics improved as his workload doubled, which is an encouraging sign. The Red Sox reliever saw his home run and hard-hit rate decrease. He also showed an ability to limit runs even though a rough September caused his ERA to rise from 0.89 to 3.26. However, despite Valdez’s struggles in September, his overall performance in 2020 should secure him a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. In Spring Training, however, he does a couple of things to improve upon.
Adjustments Valdez Needs to Make
As Valdez enters his third big league season, consistency will be key. Last year the Dominican native improved against lefties but got worse against righties. He will also have to improve his walk rate and get more ground balls. While Valdez was able to limit runs, he struggled in high leverage situations towards the end of the 2020 campaign.
In the offseason, general manager Chaim Bloom has focused on improving the Red Sox depth. As a result, competition in Spring Training will be higher even for players like Valdez, who had success last season. If Valdez can make adjustments, then he could again find himself in high-leverage situations. Although Spring Training has just begun, he is a player fans should keep an eye on.
With Opening Day just weeks away, Valdez will likely get a shot a the seventh-inning role to start the season. If he can improve his splits, then he could earn an elevated role. The righty has shown that he can have success at the major league level. If he can make adjustments, then he should again be an important piece in 2021.