Whether you love it or hate it we're going to have a baseball season. With the announcement of the 60-game schedule recently those that are hoping the Red Sox would just go away had no such luck. The Sox will not only be playing, but they'll be at Fenway Park this year as well.
With that in mind, it's worth noting that the original spring training feels like a lifetime ago. The departure of Mookie Betts, the managerial issues and cheating scandal all played a part in diminishing people's baseball excitement.
Still, it's hard not to get excited about how a 60-game season might look. It will be the definition of a sprint and not a marathon, and despite a severe lack of pitching the Red Sox lineup could be dangerous.
Here's a look at a few important things to watch out for once baseball starts on July 24:
This will be the main reason the Sox contend if they do indeed contend this year.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers could and should be a phenomenal 1-2 punch for years to come. That is as long as Devers doesn't get complacent. Meanwhile J.D. Martinez is in an odd spot, technically playing in another contract year.
Andrew Benintendi needs to have a rebound year. Mitch Moreland and Michael Chavis should be a strong platoon at first. Jose Peraza and Chavis can both handle second as well. JBJ is set to be a free agent, and as someone who's never believed in him I'd love to see Kevin Pillar eventually take over.
As a whole this lineup is still very talented. The Sox pitching staff is not, which means the lineup will need to carry them this season.
Speaking of that rotation. Yikes. With Sale out for the year it's E-Rod's team. I have personally been a huge believer in Eduardo Rodriguez, but it's now or never for him. He's had the luxury of working with Pedro Martinez over the last few years. If that guy can't get you motivated to go be an Ace of a staff then no one will.
I have no faith that Nathan Eovaldi can stay healthy, but if he does he could be a game changer. Martin Perez and Collin McHugh are interesting signings, but haven't been guys you can rely on for legitimate shut down games.
12 starts from E-Rod and Eovldi this year are going to be magnified due to the lack of games. It'll be interesting to see how they both hold up.
Brandon Workman is presumably your closer, and Matt Barnes is the eighth-inning guy. Then what? There isn't much there, but this is where fans need to try and trust Chaim Bloom to make some moves at the deadline or in the 2021 offseason.
Ideally a young guy or two emerges as steady middle-relief candidates, but this is going to be a problem all year.
I actually think this team can compete, but it's solely based on what the rotation does. This lineup is going to hit. If starters can keep them in games then making a postseason push isn't out of the realm of possibility. The schedule pits the Sox against A.L. East and N.L. East teams only this season. Those N.L. East rotations are no joke, and will pose a problem to most lineups.
No matter what happens we have some baseball to talk about. For those of us that still love the game it's better than nothing.