This does not come as any bit of a surprise, but the team made it official on Thursday. Eduardo Rodriguez will indeed start the season on the injured list after dealing with some dead arm issues at the end of spring. In his stead, Tanner Houck will come back up on the roster to make the start on Saturday.
Alex Cora says Eduardo Rodriguez will start the season on the IL. Tanner Houck will make the team and pitch Game 2.— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) April 1, 2021
Rodriguez is going to throw a simulated game in Worcester on Friday in hopes he’ll be ready to get on the mound for his first start on the season at some point next week.
This is obviously not great news as Rodriguez had looked so good for most of spring and was set to lead this rotation heading into the season. That said, they are obviously looking at the next six months, not just the coming weekend. So they want to make sure Rodriguez is ready to go when he makes his first start, which is absolutely the way they should approach things.
The other silver lining here is that the Red Sox pitching depth is miles ahead of where it was last year. I’m not really in the mood to go back over the pitchers they were running out for starts after injuries early in the 2020 season, but you remember. If you don’t live in ignorant bliss. I promise it’s the better route. But here, they have Tanner Houck able to step up and make a spot start, and there’s a good argument he’s at least the fifth best pitcher for this team anyway. And even after him, there are guys like Matt Andriese and Connor Seabold to step in.
So, while it’s been an inauspicious start to the year between this news and the postponement of Opening Day, at least on this front it is for the best. The Red Sox will take a turn through the rotation without their nominal ace if it makes for a better chance he’ll be productive for the long haul of the 162-game season.
As a couple of other points from Cora’s press conference this morning, he still is not committing to either Matt Barnes or Adam Ottavino as the closer.
Alex Cora still hasn't committed to a closer, at least publicly.— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 1, 2021
I still think it’ll be Barnes to start, but as Cora has said all spring and reiterated today, both will be important parts of this bullpen either way.
Additionally, after the scare with the baseball hitting him near the eye, Christian Vázquez will be ready for Opening Day tomorrow.
Cora says Christian Vázquez is ready to play on Opening Day.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) April 1, 2021
So, at least a little good news today.
Cora also shared the lineup for tomorrow. (Verdugo is in center field, not left.)
Alex Cora shares his Red Sox lineup for Opening Day Take 2 tomorrow:— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) April 1, 2021
1. Kiké 2B
2. Verdugo LF
3. Xander SS
4. JD DH
5. Devers 3B
6. Renfroe RF
7. Gonzalez LF
8. Vazquez C
9. Dalbec 1B