Keeping up with the 617: Evaluating the future of the Boston Red Sox

The 2020 Boston Red Sox season was nothing short of a disappointment; the powerhouse offense that many analysts praised fell short of expectations and the pitching staff was a dumpster fire. Although the losses of Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez did hinder the pitching staff, the Red Sox were scraping the bottom of the barrel for pitching help. This team continued to break the hearts of Red Sox Nation, finishing last in the AL East standings. However, the future still looks bright for the Red Sox.

 

Questions at manager:

Prior to their season finale against the Atlanta Braves, the Red Sox fired Ron Roenicke, who was promoted in February to interim manager following the suspension and dismissal of Alex Cora. Although the team’s record never reflected Roenicke’s baseball IQ, he was the perfect manager for this disastrous season. He experimented with various lineups and pitching styles, developed young players and never exposed his ballplayers to the media. Now, as Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox organization look to move forward at the managerial position, they should look to sign a fresh, young face who understands the modern game of baseball. If not, Alex Cora is still available!

 

Pitching staff shows promise

This headline might seem contradictory; as a team in 2020, the Red Sox had the third-worst ERA at 5.58. They gave up the most home runs, at 98, and had a whopping 1.60 Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched — these are not numbers that the organization should be proud of. However, there were some bright spots toward the end of this season; Tanner Houck, the ninth-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system, was lights out in September. In three starts, he was 3–0 with a 0.53 ERA against three current playoff teams. As Sale and Rodriguez work their way back from their respective ailments, the Red Sox pitching depth has a more promising outlook for the 2021 season.

 

Offense remains strong but needs more consistency

Coming into the 2020 season, offense was not a problem for the Red Sox. This year, they ranked third in team batting average at .265 and had many bright spots in the lineup. One is Alex Verdugo, who came to the Red Sox as a part of the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade and exceeded expectations. Verdugo hit a .308 batting average and racked up 62 hits, leading the Red Sox in both categories. Prospects Bobby Dalbec and Yairo Munoz contributed down the stretch and showed promise for a weak farm system. The Red Sox need more consistency out of J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, but this offense is in a good position to make some noise next season.

As much as I believe that the Red Sox will have a better outcome in 2021, optimism can only go so far. Many questions remain regarding the strength of the bullpen, and the pitching staff could take yet another step back next season. If their new manager is able to squeeze the most out of their talented roster pool, this could be yet another year where the Red Sox surprise the baseball world and clinch a playoff spot, or they could break the hearts of Boston again and sputter toward a .500 finish. Let’s hope it’s the former this time around.


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