After 10 games of the abbreviated 2020 MLB season, it is apparent that the Red Sox as a whole are trending down. While it was presumed to be a tough season in Beantown after losing Alex Cora, trading Mookie Betts, and losing Chris Sale, most Red Sox fans did not expect things to be so bleak at the 10 game marker. With a 3-7 record early in a 60 game season, it is tough to believe that this season isn’t already lost, especially with how terrible the pitching staff has been. With that being said, there are still some very exciting players on the team who are worth monitoring.
Christian Vasquez – Arguably the brightest spot on the roster so far this season, Vasquez has been hot at the plate from the jump. With a .323 average and 4 early home runs, Vasquez has been mashing the baseball, and proving what a steal his contract extension was in 2018 (3 years, 13.3 million). In one of the Red Sox few wins, Vasquez hit two home runs at an empty Citi field to help the team to a 4-2 victory. Despite the struggles of the team, It is quite clear that Vasquez has been doing his part.
Kevin Pillar – As one of the newcomers to the team this year, Pillar has been quite the pleasant surprise. After starting 7 out of the first 10 games, Pillar is hitting .387, playing solid defense, and even producing extra base hits (4 doubles, 1 HR). Pillar was signed with the expectation that he would be an average hitter with an elite glove in right field and center field, but he has been producing at the plate from the jump, and looks like a player that Chaim Bloom may want to keep in Boston beyond this season.
Xander Bogaerts – As one of the best players on the team, if not the very best, it is expected for Xander’s stock to stay up. After a big two-homer night in New York on Sunday Night Baseball, Bogaerts is now slashing .333 and is tied for the team lead in RBI’s with 9. While his production has not necessarily translated to wins, Bogaerts still features a sweet swing. Xander will be on the Red Sox for years to come and is nothing less than one of the best shortstops in the MLB. Regardless of the teams record, he is a foundational player for the future, and it is important to see him confident and at the top of his game.
Nate Eovaldi – With Eduardo Rodriguez having COVID-19, Eovaldi was thrust into the role of the ace, and started for the team on opening day. So far, Eovaldi has delivered. The team is 2-0 when he starts and his stat line has to have the coaching staff optimistic after a tough last season for Nate. He is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA over 11 innings pitched. Eovaldi is the currently the best healthy pitcher on the team, and gives the team the best chance to win on the nights he pitches.
Andrew Benintendi – To call a spade a spade, Benintendi has been downright awful at the plate. After a disappointing season last year, this was a big season for Benny to prove whether he was the star many thought he would be. So far, he’s hitting .083 and has struck out 10 times in 10 games. He has looked quite overmatched at the plate multiple times, and after starting the year as the leadoff hitter, he has been moved down to the bottom of the lineup to attempt to find his stride. In a shortened season, the time is ticking for Benintendi to get it going.
J.D. Martinez – It is probably a bit early to worry about one of the best hitters in baseball, but he has certainly not been producing runs as much as the team had hoped. With a .222 average and only 3 RBI’s, it will be interesting to see if Martinez can return to being the hitter he has been consistently year in and year out. It’s definitely too soon to press the panic button on Martinez, but the start to the season has certainly not been what was hoped for.
Rafael Devers – After a phenomenal 2019 season, many expected Devers to pick up right where he left off. There were rumblings from the coaching staff in summer camp that his conditioning may have been a slight concern. His start to the season has been less than desirable, but he has already slowly been heating back up after a very poor start. He’s hitting .222 currently, but did slug his first home run of the season in New York on Sunday night on what was a no-doubter. Hopefully Devers can continue this momentum and get himself going, as he also is a large part of the Red Sox future plans.
The Pitching Staff – Other than Nate Eovaldi, the starting pitching staff is an absolute mess with only three actual starters in the rotation. Martin Perez had one solid start and one very poor start, while Ryan Weber has been tough to watch both times he pitched. When it comes to the bullpen, besides Heath Hembree and Marcus Walden, the group has been rather horrendous. Almost everyone has struggled at times so far, and the issues seemed to come to a head in New York on Sunday night when Matt Barnes quickly allowed a 7-6 lead for the Red Sox to become 9-7 Yankees. Barnes, Brandon Workman and Matt Hall have all struggled with throwing strikes which has killed them and the team. With only three starting pitchers in the rotation, the Red Sox have attempted using the opener strategy. Unfortunately, when your bullpen stinks, it is tough to put together 6-8 innings worth of consistent pitching. Everyone knew this was a problem for the 2019 Sox and they did very little to address the issues. It is tough to believe that the pitching staff can improve enough to get themselves off the trending down list any time soon.
Photo: (Kathy Willens – AP Photo)