Red Sox 2022 Season Preview
8 Days. We are just over 1 week away from the greatest day of every year. It ain't Christmas. It ain't New Years. We are talking about opening day for Major League Baseball, and more specifically the Boston Red Sox. A day in which all of Boston can come together, start drinking at noon, and watch our great nation's pastime. Then, 90% of those people who watch opening day can go back to not caring about baseball until mid-July. Around then they will come back with their terrible takes on which of our team's superstars we should trade away for a bag of balls and refills of the vending machine. Fortunately, I am in that 10%, surrounded by middle-aged to elderly men, right where I feel most at home.
I have been inundated with discourse on the Bruins and the Celtics, with friends calling them "teams of destiny". I pay attention to both through Twitter and will occasionally watch if the mood strikes, but while Jaylen Brown decides which defender's forehead he will be resting his nuts on, I am thinking about Ryan Fitzgerald taking pitchers' souls down in the Fort. While I sip on my Sunday Mimosa and talk about the terrible decisions of the weekend, images of Jaren Duran swiping home from second on a sac-fly dance through my head, split-screened with Brayan Bello being the next Pedro. The Sox are a drug, and since the lockout was lifted I have been injecting it directly into my bloodstream.
With the season rapidly approaching, I thought now would be the best time to dip the quill in the ink (wipe the grease off my fingers from by SEC breakfast sammy) and give the people what they want, my hottest takes for the 2022 season.
The Hot Corner
*I just thought of the name for this section, and I am positive that no baseball writer has ever used it before. Suck it Shaughnessy. Anyways, these are some hot takes, not necessarily predictions. I don't feel like saying "Devers will be good" because that's like saying the sun will come up. Lets get weird with it.*
Leading off, we are going to talk about the Sox rotation. I actually am more optimistic than most on the rotation. Eovaldi stays healthy, Pivetta looks like he did in the playoffs, Houck takes a step forward and starts to show more consistency, then Hill and Wacha eat innings in the back end. I think all of that can happen while we wait for Sale to come back in mid to late May, then Paxton later on in the summer. We won't speak about the relievers, as I happen to be in a good mood today and would like to keep that going. All of this to preface my first take - Nick Pivetta will receive Cy Young votes this year.
The moment the lockout was lifted, we saw pictures of Pivetta on the timeline being the first one at Sox camp. Usually, I don't put much stock into who shows up when in Spring Training, but I think Pivetta is riding a high from his unbelievable post-season in 2021. Cora trusted him in the most high leverage of situations, similar to how he trusted Eovaldi in 2018 to come through for him. I do not think a season similar to Rick Porcello's 2016 is out of reach for Pivetta in 2022. The top 2 things that he can do to help the team are limit the walks, and go deeper into games. If he can do that, expect to see truly reliable number 3 in our rotation late in the season.
Among the biggest questions this year is when we will see the moose named Triston make the move from AAA to be on the big league roster, and when it inevitably happens, what will we do with Bobby Dalbec. This leads me to take #2. Bobby Dalbec will start over 150 games for the Red Sox this season. I think the overwhelming consensus from Red Sox fans is that when Casas comes up, he is platooned with Dalbec at first. Before that happens, Bob will have prove to AC that not only does he belong in the lineup, but he is must-have in the starting 9. I expect him to show that when we bring up Casas, we make it a priority to find him some spot in the lineup. Dalbec changed his approach with 2 strikes this Spring, opting for a shortened step and looking for contact rather than the long ball. If he can get on base more in between launching 4,000 foot bombs that get mistaken for Russian ICBMs, then I think we will have no choice but to keep him around.
Finally, the last hot take I have is dependent on the second take. It is no secret that our outfield has had its fair share of ups and downs since the 2018 killer B's. We shipped off Renfroe for JBJ and 2 prospects (Binelas being the biggest part of the deal in my opinion). Bradley Jr. outright refuses to put the bat on the ball against lefties, so that makes him being our every day corner outfielder a rather large problem. Verdugo is a good bat to have in the lineup, but has struggled defensively at times. Kiké (it took me 15 minutes to try to find out how to type the e with the accent so it is copy and pasted) seems like he will be the every day center fielder and is going to bat leadoff. I hear people saying that this is all just until Duran is ready to be in the outfield every day. I do not see it that way - in fact, I think Jarren Duran will not finish the year on the Red Sox. I think we end up trading Duran and another prospect for a true closer. I have no issues with Jarren, I actually quite like him. The pop I heard in Fenway when he hit an inside the park home run last year was among the loudest I have ever heard. With that being said, I think Bobby Dalbec moves to becoming a mainstay in left field when Casas comes up, and we see Verdugo and Bradley Jr. splitting time in right field. Of course, this entirely depends on us being contenders at the deadline, but I have no issue with everything hinging on that.
So that's it. Thanks to anyone that read this. This team is going to be fun to watch. 162-0 is still a possibility. See you at Fenway.