Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Boston Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced Saturday that Nathan Eovaldi will be the team’s Opening Day starter.
According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Roenicke made the decision after ruling Eduardo Rodriguez out for Opening Day. Rodriguez is making progress but isn’t yet back with the team after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Red Sox will open their 60-game regular-season slate Friday when they host the American League East rival Baltimore Orioles.
With Chris Sale out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Rodriguez is Boston’s clear ace. He went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA last season, and Boston’s rotation is littered with question marks aside from him.
Eovaldi is among them, as the 30-year-old veteran struggled mightily last season. He began the season as a starter before getting moved to the bullpen and ultimately appeared in 23 games, 12 of which were starts.
In those outings, Eovaldi went 2-1 with a 5.99 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He also struck out 70 batters over 67.2 innings.
It was a major drop-off for Eovaldi, who was great for the Red Sox in 2018 after they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays. In 12 appearances (11 starts) for the Red Sox during the 2018 regular season, Eovaldi went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA.
Then, during Boston’s run to a World Series title in 2018, Eovaldi went 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in six playoff appearances, including two starts.
Aside from Rodriguez and Eovaldi, the Boston rotation is expected to be comprised of Martin Perez, Collin McHugh and Ryan Weber. The team’s pitching depth took a major hit during the offseason not only because of Sale’s injury, but also due to the trade of David Price along with outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Red Sox went 84-78 and missed the playoffs last season after winning the World Series in 2018, and they are in danger of missing out again in 2020 because of their poor rotation.
Boston has a supremely talented lineup, however, so it could have a fighting chance in a 60-game season.
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