Red Sox

Eduardo Rodriguez puts forth rock-solid effort in return to the mound

Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox had a poor start to their season when they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

During that series, the Boston offense was a disaster. They were shut out in the season opener and put up just five total runs in the three-game series.

On Thursday afternoon, they outdid that offensive output entirely, scoring seven times en route to a 7-3 win that spoiled the Orioles' home opener.

In the contest, the Red Sox saw four players get multiple hits. The No. 2 through No. 5 batters combined for 10 of the team's 12 hits and proved key in chasing Matt Harvey from the game and doing some damage against the Baltimore bullpen.

But it wasn't only the offense that had a good day for the Red Sox. Their pitching staff performed well once again and continues to inspire confidence after the unit's disastrous effort last season.

And a couple of Thursday's pitchers will be prominently featured in our observations from the Red Sox's win over the Orioles.

Eduardo Rodriguez looks solid in limited action

For the first time since the 2019 season, Eduardo Rodriguez was able to get onto the mound for the Boston Red Sox. He missed the entire 2020 season with myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, and made his return after missing his first start of the season with arm fatigue.

In the outing, Rodriguez was just fine. He got off to a rocky start in the first inning and allowed a two-run homer to Orioles rookie Ryan Mountcastle, but after that, Rodriguez settled in nicely.

 

E-Rod ended up pitching five innings on Thursday and allowed three runs on four hits. Two of the hits were home runs, but all things considered, that's not bad for a guy pitching in a major league game for the first time in more than a calendar year, especially when you consider that he was pitching in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

Also impressive was Rodriguez's ability to notch strikeouts. He had seven on the day and hit his locations well while confounding hitters, as you can see via the Red Sox Twitter account.

All told, Rodriguez achieved this success with just 79 pitches, his second-fewest pitches dating back to the start of the 2019 season. The Red Sox are probably going to ease him back into action as he gets back into the swing of a full season after the myocarditis and arm fatigue. 

But if E-Rod can continue to pitch like this, Red Sox fans will certainly be pleased.

Garrett Whitlock is no typical Rule 5 guy

The Boston Red Sox added Garrett Whitlock to their roster as part of the league's Rule 5 draft, a process that allows teams to select minor league players from the roster of another team to join their 40-man roster. Often, those players are on the younger side and are inexperienced, so bringing one on board to join a major league roster is usually a risk.

But occasionally, teams can unearth gems via the Rule 5 draft. That appears to be what the Red Sox have done with Whitlock.

Whitlock, 25, was selected from the New York Yankees organization and hadn't pitched above the Double-A level when the Red Sox took a chance on him. Whitlock had posted a 3.07 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings in 2019, so the upside was there. But would he be able to jump all the way up to the major-league level in 2021 after not pitching during the 2020 season because of the COVID pandemic?

The Red Sox gambled that he would be able to find a role with the team much like they gambled on keeping the then-21-year-old Jonathan Arauz on the roster during the '20 season.

So far, the decision to pick up Whitlock has paid off. He has made two appearances for the Red Sox this year and has been superb in both of them.

On Thursday against the Orioles, Whitlock posted three strikeouts over two shutout innings. He didn't allow a hit and threw 15 strikes on 20 pitches. In his other outing, he pitched 3 1/3 innings and racked up five strikeouts, also against the Orioles.

Whitlock-ing 'em down

Whitlock's K's per 9 innings pitched
13.5

Whitlock looks like a great bullpen arm for the Sox, and his ability to pitch multiple innings is a huge asset for the team. He can be used to keep other bullpen arms fresh, but he's not just there for mop-up purposes. He could earn some opportunities to pitch in higher-leverage situations if he continues to pitch well.

Either way, it looks like Whitlock was a diamond in the rough. The Red Sox were smart to pick him up and add another high-upside weapon to their bullpen.

 

J.D. Martinez, Christian Vazquez stay red-hot

The Red Sox offense was largely lifeless through the first few games of the season, but there have been two constants for them during their first seven games.

Both J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez have been on fire to start the year. On Thursday, they continued to play very well.

Against the Orioles, Martinez and Vazquez combined to go 5-for-10 from the plate with three doubles. Martinez had an RBI and notched an extra-base hit in his seventh straight game to open the season. He is one of just five players in MLB history to do that.

Beyond Martinez's historic start and Vazquez being fourth in the MLB in batting average, the duo has provided a majority of the offense for the Red Sox. They have produced four of the team's six home runs, and they have nearly as many doubles (10) as the rest of the team has combined (11).

Hot pair of Sox

Martinez and Vazquez's batting average
.444
Rest of Red Sox batting average
.217

Martinez and Vazquez likely won't continue at this clip for the rest of the season, but it's nice to see them buoying the offense, especially after Martinez's struggles last year. It looks like these two will continue to be weapons for the Sox as the season goes along.

And in Vazquez's case, he'll cement himself as one of the best catchers in baseball if he keeps this up.