Cora's Opening Day Lineup
Red Sox skipper Alex Cora announced that the lineup the team put out against the Braves on Wednesday's Spring Training game (in which our starters put up 9 runs in 4 innings) will likely be their opening day lineup. Here is the first look at what to expect on April 7th in the Bronx
Nathan Eovaldi - SP - We have actually known this for quite a bit. Even before it was announced that Sale would start the season on the IL, it was expected that Eovaldi would make the Opening Day start. On a lot of teams he would be their clear number 1, and there is no one on the staff that I would rather give the ball to start the season.
Kiké Hernandez - CF - Again, no surprise here. Hernandez was unstoppable in the second half of the year, especially in the playoffs. Last year I was under the impression he would be moving between second base and center field. This year, I have no doubt that he will be the every day center fielder.
Rafael Devers - 3B - This seems to be where the analytics are moving. Put your overall best hitter in the 2 hole to get them the most at-bats possible with a runner on. Wherever you put Raffy, he is going to rake.
Xander Bogaerts - SS - I actually had Xander at the 2, as I prefer power in the 3-spot and average in the second spot. That being said, you would struggle to find a more consistent hitter and someone you want at the plate with RISP, so I get the idea here.
J.D. Martinez - DH - We don't talk about JD enough. He has been the ideal player to have as your DH for his time in Boston, and I am not quite sure why people are so quick to want to part ways with him. He had a good bounce back year last year from his terrible COVID season, but a lot of that has to do with him being able to make in-game adjustments using the video monitors. With the introduction of the DH in the NL, I hope we never see him in the field. His splits when he is just hitting versus playing OF are staggering to say the least.
Alex Verdugo - LF - I thought this was going to be Story. A lot of people are down on Verdugo after last year, but it was really just a one-month stretch where he could not get the ball in the air. He did not see much time at all in the playoffs, but I expect his lefty bat to be able to crush righty pitchers as he usually does in the 5-spot.
Trevor Story - 2B - The big question with Story is how will his power translate from the thin air of Denver to Boston. We all know that big signings are judged quickly in Boston, and while the reaction has been all positive thus far, asshole radio hosts will crucify Story and Chaim Bloom if he struggles over the first couple of weeks. I usually don't put too much stock into guys moving out of Denver because, as Story said in his introductory press conference, "It's still baseball."
Bobby Dalbec - 1B - Bobby batting in the seventh spot is going to be deceiving for pitchers. It reminds me a lot of what the Rays did in the playoffs. Spread out the power so pitchers really can't catch a break in the lineup. He is going to be a problem for opponents, especially with Story's ability to get on base in front of him.
Jackie Bradley Jr. - RF - JBJ patrolling Fenway's right field is going to be the first time I am really comfortable with our defense out there since Betts. His bat is not what it used to be, and what it used to be is super average with 2 week spurts of looking like Ted Williams. He also has shown an inability to hit lefties, so it will be interesting to see how this changes when we are facing a lefty SP. Possibly Refsnyder if he makes the opening day lineup?
Christian Vazquez - C - In his last year of his contract, I think Vazquez could actually do quite well out of the 9 spot. He has power, and he shows it for some reason in the highest leverage spots. He also is, in my opinion, one of the best defensive catchers in the league. Anytime you have a guy like that batting ninth, your lineup is pretty stacked.
Not much more to say beyond that. I trust Alex Cora more than every member of my immediate family, so whatever he says is going to work I am willing to give a shot.