Why the Red Sox Will Be Better in 2021


Josh Linnehan

The Boston Red Sox just started Spring Training a few weeks ago and they are officially less than a month away from Opening Day on April 1st. Red Sox fans are excited to see the team back in Fenway Park, especially because fans are back in the stadium, though it’s limited capacity. However, the 60 game sprint that was the 2020 MLB season was one to forget as the Red Sox finished last in their division with a 24-36 record. The team was riddled by pitching injuries and allowed the 2nd most runs last year. In the offseason, the Soxs made a lot of moves that should put the team in a better spot, and possibly make the postseason.

Out of all MLB teams in the offseason, the Red Sox made the most moves to improve their team. They traded for Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino, signed Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, and veteran reliever Matt Andriese to beef up a below average bullpen. They signed a World Series champion on the Dodgers in super utility man Kike Hernandez and former Minnesota Twin, Marwin Gonzalez, who is also a super utility man as he plays almost every position. They also signed Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, Starting Pitcher Garrett Richards, and traded Andrew Benintendi for Franchy Cordero. None of these signings are big names, but all these players have different skill sets that can really make an impact on this team. The only deal I feel that may have lost was the Benny trade, but Cordero has a lot of talent; the thing holding him back is his rich injury history, so hopefully he stays healthy.

All of these new players join a pretty talented roster, especially on the hitting side. They have young stars in 24 year old Third Baseman Rafael Devers, and 24 year old Outfielder Alex Verdugo. Returning to the team is their superstar Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez, who is looking for a bounce back season after a rough 2020. It was incredible to see Starting Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez back on the team after he suffered a rare heart condition due to COVID in 2020. E-Rod is an essential piece to this team, as he should be their best Starter. Left hander Martin Perez, and right handers Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta round out a rotation that needs to pitch well if they want to have a good season. Other factors in place is young starter Tanner Houck, who was amazing in just 3 starts in 2020, but he is not set to be in the Red Sox rotation on April 1st; and their true ace, Chris Sale, could possibly make an appearance this season as he battles Tommy John surgery. After serving a one year suspension, manager Alex Cora is coming back to Boston, which has Red Sox fans excited after he won the 2018 World Series.

To give another perspective on the Red Sox’s 2021 season, I interviewed one of my friends who is a diehard baseball fan, Richard. When asked how many wins did he think the Red Sox will have this year, he replied “I think they will be around 70 to mid 70s… the pitching is so questionable… I think it honestly depends on when Sale comes back, if he comes in late I don’t think they’ll get 80 wins.” Richard went on to discuss possible breakouts from the team this year:  “Tanner Houck. I think he can do something, especially if Sale can mentor him, that would be insane.” Finally discussing whether or not the Sox had a chance to be a sneaky wild card team this year, he concluded, “the thing for me is the pitching because the offense is definitely not the problem… you don’t really have anyone to rely on, like Nathan Eovaldi can’t be a top starter on the team… and the offense can’t score 7 to 8 runs a game.”

While the Red Sox could have a great 2021 season, there is always the possibility that it could go downhill. With all the new players they picked up, it could be hard for all of them to fit into the system right away, and figure out a lineup that works. Their pitching as previously stated is still very questionable, and with Chris Sale potentially missing another whole season, it could be hard for Boston to win games if they’re allowing 5 to 6 runs a night. Also they are in a very tough division in the AL East. Of course the Yankees are there, and they are still one of the best teams in the league. The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the best lineups in the game, and they can definitely give the Red Sox pitching a rough time; and the Tampa Bay Rays were just in the World Series last year and have a great manager in Kevin Cash. I have a strong feeling that this team will be much better in 2021 compared to 2020, but I still don’t see them as a wild card team. This season will be very important for GM Chaim Bloom after he gave up a generational talent in Mookie Betts. This is his opportunity to gain the trust of the Red Sox fans and staff, and I believe he has assembled a really solid team. However, I still think they are a few years away from being back in the playoffs.