Eduardo Rodriguez missed the entire abbreviated 2020 season due to complications from COVID-19.
But after more than a year without baseball, he bounced back this season and has been entrusted with the ball for Game 1 as the Boston Red Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.
“I’m very proud of him,” manager Alex Cora told reporters Wednesday. “First thing’s first, last year was a very difficult year for him not being able to play because of health issues. … And the fact that he will be the starter tomorrow, I know it means a lot to him and his family.”
Rodriguez is 13-8 on the mound with a 4.74 ERA in 32 outings (31 starts) for Boston this year. Cora shared that the ALDS roster wasn’t “even close” to being finalized, but the Red Sox will try to maximize their pitching staff by getting. He’ll be backed up by Nick Pivetta in the bullpen if necessary, but the team feels good about his experience and like the matchup.
“We feel Eddie has been there, done that,” Cora said. “So he threw the ball well here before just like others on our pitching staff. So we feel very comfortable with him.”
In three games against the Rays this season, Rodriguez has a 4.71 ERA, having given up 11 earned in 21 innings pitched with 24 strikeouts and three walks allowed. He’ll throw opposite left-handed rookie Shane McClanahan, who the Rays have starting the game.
Tampa has an 11-8 edge in the season series against Boston this season, and Rodriguez will hope to close that gap a bit.
The ALDS begins Thursday with first pitch at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.
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