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To say the Boston Red Sox pitching staff was a disaster in 2020 would be an understatement, but there's reason for optimism heading into the 2021 season.
One positive is Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the starting rotation after the left-hander missed the entire 2020 campaign due to myocarditis. After Red Sox manager Alex Cora declared E-Rod a "full go" for this season, the 27-year-old issued another encouraging update on his status Friday.
“I feel great, I feel 100 percent,” Rodriguez said. “I feel normal…I feel the way I normally feel when I get to spring training. I would say everything is going to be fine.”
Rodriguez's presence undoubtedly will provide a significant boost, but what about the rest of the starting rotation?
Nathan Eovaldi is slotted in as the No. 2 starter, then there's veteran right-hander Garrett Richards who the Red Sox signed to a one-year deal this offseason. Martin Perez, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck will also be in the mix.
Spring training just got underway this week, but E-Rod already is hyping up the group.
"I feel like we have a really good rotation. And when [Chris] Sale gets back here, it's going to be way better," Rodriguez said. "I'm just going to say don't sleep on us ... I've been up there the last three days with the guys and we look really good, man. ...
"I've been looking at the pitchers we have, and we look really good. When the lights get on, we're going to show everybody what we've got. Right now we're in a real good spot. ... [The pitchers], we know we're going to be fine. We know we're going to be good especially when Sale gets back. We're going to be ready."
Rodriguez and the Red Sox will be waiting a while for Sale's anticipated return. There currently is no clear timetable for the ace's return to the rotation as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Even without Sale, the starting staff should fare a whole lot better than it did in 2020. Will that be enough to contend for a playoff spot? That remains to be seen.