The 2021 Boston Red Sox reached the American League Championship Series! Can you believe it? No. No, you cannot believe it. The Red Sox took the Houston Astros, a team that has been in the ALCS five times in a row, and reached the World Series in 2017, 2019, and yes, 2021, to a game six. Cheating scandal aside, the Houston Astros, have been an elite franchise since 2017.
Ahead of the Curve
Watching your favorite team lose in the playoffs is never easy. Watching said team only two wins away from a World Series berth, and not sealing the deal, is extremely painful to watch as a fan. Red Sox fans however should not be discouraged with the team being bounced from the 2021 playoffs. After a disastrous 2020 season, the Red Sox making the playoffs in 2021 was an accomplishment for a rebuilding franchise, getting to the ALCS, was the icing on the cake. The Red Sox organization is ahead of their championship window. Most will tell you the Red Sox being an elite team will begin in 2023, and quite frankly, the 2021 team showed flashes of being elite.
The 2022 Red Sox will retain starters Chris Sale and Nate Eovaldi to anchor the first two spots in the rotation. Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, and Garrett Whitlock will also be in-house rotation options for the 2022 ballclub. Look for the Red Sox to give free-agent starter Eduardo Rodriguez a qualifying offer. If Rodriguez accepts the offer, or the Red Sox negotiation a new contract with him this offseason, the three-headed monster of Sale, Eovaldi, and Rodriguez can be a darn good one for the Red Sox. Houck showed flashes of brilliance in 2021, and Pivetta took a step forward in his development.
The true starting wild card will come in the form of Garrett Whitlock. Whitlock was dominant in his rookie campaign coming out of the bullpen. Whitlock pitched to a 1.96 ERA, 2.96 xERA, 2.84 FIP, and a 3.22 xFIP in 46 appearances. Whitlock, prior to having Tommy John Surgery in the Yankees minor league system, was a starter, and most likely will be transitioned back into that role for the 2022 season. Sale, Eovaldi, Pivetta, Whitlock, and Houck are the five starters the Red Sox control for the 2022 season.
Left Side. Strong Side.
What else can fans get excited about? The left side of the Red Sox infield is the definition of elite talent. Rafael Devers is under team control through the 2023 season, and Xander Bogaerts can opt out after 2022. A contract extension for Devers should be Chaim Bloom’s priority number one this offseason.
When Dave Dombrowski took over control of the Red Sox front office in 2015 he did exactly what was expected. Dombrowski took an extremely viable farm system and sold off assets for major league talent. He did so, and in 2018 the team won a World Championship. Dave Dombrowski did exactly what he was hired to do. Chaim Bloom has picked up the pieces and not just ran with it, but rather ran the speeds of Usain Bolt. Thanks to Dombrowski, the Red Sox have a foundation of Tanner Houck, Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Brayan Bello, Gilberto Jimenez, Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, and Noah Song. Dave Dombrowski also did a fine job of building the system. Chaim Bloom added the likes of Alex Verdugo, Garrett Whitlock, Marcelo Mayer, Nick Yorke, Jeter Downs, Connor Seabold, Blaze Jordan, Josh Winckowski, Connor Wong, and Ronaldo Hernandez.
Come the beginning of 2023, if the Red Sox retain Xander Bogaerts, there could very well be an entire infield of homegrown talent. The sky is the limit for the talent that is being built at the minor league levels. The future is something Red Sox fans should be very excited about. The 2021 season was a small taste of what is to come. Chaim Bloom does not want to just build a sporadic winner, he wants to take the Boston Red Sox and turn them into a team that chases a title year in, year out.
Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports fans!
main image credit: Embed from Getty Images