The Red Sox had a pair of games on Monday with their squad splitting up. Some headed to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays while the rest went across town in Fort Myers to play the Twins. They couldn’t pick up any wins on the afternoon, tying the Rays with a 2-2 score and losing 3-2 to the Twins. Some notes!
Nathan Eovaldi looks solid
In Fort Myers against the Twins, we got our first look at Nathan Eovaldi in 2020. He is obviously coming off a disappointing year filled with both injury and underperformance, but the first spring start went well. The righty ended up tossing two scoreless innings, allowing a pair of singles while striking out four. I think the line is probably a little bit better than he looked as there was some hard contact including one out that went to the warning track, but overall is was encouraging. His velocity was up in the high-90s and his command was solid enough. Health is going to be the key for Eovaldi and two innings in February can never tell us a ton, but as far as a building block with which to start the season, it certainly could have gone a lot worse. Boston needs Eovaldi to at least be average this season in the middle of their rotation.
Today’s Fifth Starter Update
The battle to watch the most this spring is the one for the final spot in the rotation, and there were four feasible options pitching on Monday, with some obviously having better chances than others. Tanner Houck is one of the longshots, and he got the start against the Rays. The young righty tossed two scoreless innings with a strikeout, though he did walk a pair and allowed a double to former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot. I’d be surprised if he didn’t start the season in Triple-A, and I’d guess he’ll be used more as a reliever when hee eventually makes the majors. Jeffrey Springs, who came over from the Rangers earlier this winter, came in after Houck. The lefty is also more of a reliever but has started earlier in his professional career and even more recently has been a multi-inning guy. He allowed a homer to Yoshitomo Tsutsugo for the only run he over two innings, striking out three and giving up a couple more singles.
In the other game, Kyle Hart followed Eovaldi. He has a better chance of making it than the other two mentioned, but without any major-league experience his time is more likely to come later in the year. He didn’t do himself any favors in this game either, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk in just an inning of work. Two of those hits were homers, too, with one Nelson Crúz and the other to Gilberto Celestino. The standout of the day, though, was Hector Velázquez. He had a rough 2019, but he had been solid in the couple of years before that. He’ll get a chance to prove he can rebound, and he got off to a good start on Monday. The righty tossed two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Andrew Benintendi goes deep
With Mookie Betts no longer on the roster, the Red Sox need a new leadoff hitter and Andrew Benintendi seems most likely to fill that role. The left fielder has struggled in that role in the past, but he’ll be looking to prove that was just some fluky bad luck. The early returns this spring have gone well. In his first game he smacked a base hit in his first at bat in the game, and this time around he topped that. Facing Kenta Maeda, who was traded to from Dodgers in a deal adjacent to the Betts trade, Benintendi ripped a solo homer to start off Monday’s game. This certainly isn’t a sign he’ll succeed in the leadoff spot, but it’s better than going 0-2.
- Jarren Duran showed off his speed again, getting a base hit against the Rays, moving to second on a single, a third on a fly ball and then scoring on an error on a pickoff throw.
- Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of hits today in the two hole behind Benintendi as he looks for a big season before he hits free agency.
- Austin Brice had a nice day on the mound as he looks for one of the bullpen spots for Opening Day. The right tossed an inning and a third, allowing a base hit and a walk while striking out four.
- Getting hits on Monday who haven’t been mentioned yet are: Jonathan Arauz, Roldani Baldwin and Michael Osinski, who all had doubles, and Kevin Pillar, Joey Menses, Brett Netzer, Tzu-Wei Lin, José Peraza and Juan Centeno, all of whom had singles.
- The pitchers not mentioned yet were: Trevor Hildenberger, Robinson Leyer, Rio Gomez, R.J. Alvarez, Daniel McGrath and Eduard Bazardo. Only McGrath allowed a run.
BOX (vs. MIN)
BOX (vs. TB)
The Red Sox are at home on Monday to take on the Orioles, who will be in a split squad game themselves. The game will not be available to watch locally or on MLB.TV, but you can listen on 850 AM WEEI. Ryan Weber gets the start, and first pitch is at 1:05 PM ET.