Now the season now underway, and the Red Sox are in the midst of their opening series with the Baltimore Orioles. Let’s look at the top Red Sox stories from around the mound in April.
Top Story: Infield
Will Bobby Dalbec Cement Himself in the Rookie of the Year Talk?
On Friday, Throbby D made his first career opening day start at first base. This rookie became one of the most notorious young power hitters in Red Sox history last season. Dalbec hit 6 home runs in 10 games last season, a feat which he followed up by leading the Grapefruit League in homers this spring. The hype train has begun, but will it gain enough steam to matter?
My optimism has to hope so. Don’t get me wrong, competing with top prospects like Seattle’s Jared Kelenic and Randy Arozarena, and Wander Franco in Tampa will be tough, but not impossible. The trick is that Dalbec must get off to a hot start in April. If he can outplay Arozarena in April, he will have a clear edge on Kelenic and Franco when they are called up later this season. This will require a lot from Dalbec. Not only will he need to mash the ball like he did this spring, but he’ll need good plate discipline, something he didn’t have when he struck out twice on opening day.
Top Story: Outfield
Amidst all the Red Sox outfield turnover, one of the top Red Sox stories is someone who barely plays the field. For the better part of a decade, J.D. Martinez was one of the best hitters in baseball. Between 2014 and 2019, Martinez hit 207 home runs with a 152 OPS+. Now, 2020 was an unfortunate slip-up. Over 54 games, Martinez had a .213 BA, .680 OPS, and an 81 OPS+. Martinez later claimed on multiple occasions that he didn’t feel right mechanically as the heat of the shortened season got the best of him. I wouldn’t be worried about such a consistent player if it weren’t for the fact that he only managed one home run in spring training.
Martinez is one of the top Red Sox stories in April because if he doesn’t get off to a hot start, he could spiral out of control again. A new season provides a clean slate, but if it starts as more of the same, it could be detrimental to his season as the more he struggles, the more he’ll begin to press.
Top Story: Pitching
Going into the 2020 season, things were great for Eduardo Rodriguez. He had just come off a 19 win season with a 3.81 ERA in 2019 and was slated to start opening day in place of the injured Chris Sale. All that changed when rare complications from COVID-19 caused him to miss the season.
Rodriguez will be back on the warpath once he’s cleared of dead arm. Eddie Aces back in action will be a brilliant show for fans. Starting with a strong April, Rodriguez will show that he’s furthered his development into the form of a future ace. If Rodriguez can remain healthy this season, he has all the talent required for a 20 win season. It will happen this year.
There’s one more story that’s important in April. In fact, it’s the biggest winner of the month, the fans. 12 percent capacity will return to Fenway Park this month, and more fans will be in many other stadiums. After a year where so much was taken from us, we now have some sense of normalcy. Win or lose, let’s embrace it.