The Boston Red Sox surprised a lot of MLB pundits in 2021. A team coming off a horrendous, yet mercifully short season in 2020, the Sox appeared to have a lot of questions surrounding their lineup. Could they compete at the .500 level? What’s Chaim Bloom constructing here? How much longer can they hold Xander Bogaerts? Are Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe and Kiké Hernandez close to filling the shoes of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Andrew Benintendi?
The answer is a resounding yes, but not for the reason you may think.
“To me, my favorite story is the Sox getting Whitlock for nothing from the Yankees AND the Yankees giving the Sox a prospect to take Ottavino,” quipped Red Sox outsider Terry Cudmore. “I feel like the Hernandez signing could be it, but… everyone is saying that now.”
While Whitlock, Ottavino and Hernandez have made waves, it’s another Red Sox acquisition who has made the biggest impact according to Cudmore.
“The biggest surprise for the Red Sox has been the massive upgrade in the starting rotation that was simply done by adding MLB talent.” Cudmore added that one pitcher, in particular, was the biggest change for Boston in 2021. “Nick Pivetta is part of this too, where they traded Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree for Pivetta and Philadelphia prospect Connor Seabold, who is the #8 prospect on SoxProspects. Actually, Nick Pivetta is the most overlooked part of the 2021 Red Sox.”
“Pivetta threw 30 starts, 8+ relief innings vs. TB in the ALDS, and posted a 2.6 WAR in 2021. They are not where they are without him.”
When asked why Boston’s pitching gets overshadowed by the loud Red Sox bats, Cudmore had the perfect metaphor. “The increase in pitching talent allowed the offense to carry this team to an ALCS berth. Last year their pitching was the equivalent of driving a three-wheeled car, and I think it mentally affected the offense. Now, they’re driving a fully functioning 4-door sedan. it’s age-appropriate and gets great gas mileage.”
And now, that four-door sedan is two wins away from a World Series appearance.
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