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Can the Red Sox sustain early season form?

The Boston Red Sox were deemed a rebuilding team before the start of the 2021 campaign. The franchise was forced into a re-shuffle of their roster after losing key components of their drive to the 2018 World Series. Although manager Alex Cora returned to the fold after serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, Boston had seen Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr, and David Price, while the erstwhile Dustin Pedroia announced his retirement from the game.

As a result, expectations were low ahead of the new season, especially considering All-Star pitcher Chris Sale would be unavailable in the early months of the campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020. However, after a difficult start to the campaign, where Cora’s men lost three games in a row, the Red Sox have emerged as one of the dominant teams in the American League.

They are backed in the MLB odds on bet365 at +900 to win the American League and reach the World Series for the fifth time since 2004. There is a long road ahead of the club, but there are positive signs across the board to prove that their fast start to the term is not a false dawn.

J.D Martinez was outstanding following his move to the Red Sox in 2018. He was one of the driving forces alongside Betts in their triumph in 2018. The 33-year-old saw a slight decline in his form in the 2019 season, but he was still more than effective at the plate.

His 2020 campaign sent alarm bells sounding at Fenway Park. Martinez’s average dropped to a staggering .213, scoring only seven runs in his 54 games. The right-hander has been resurgent and has already surpassed his home run total from the 2020 campaign this term in half of the games. After 28 games, he averaged .361, which would break a career-high and certainly set him on the path towards the AL MVP.

Martinez has been ably supported by Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop has always been reliable, but has taken on further responsibility amid the departures of Pedroia, Benintendi, Bradley Jr, and Betts. Rising stars Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers, and Christian Arroyo have all enjoyed excellent starts to the campaign. They all need to sustain their form to ease the burden on Martinez and Bogaerts, with Devers suggesting more than most that his dip in 2020 was only temporary.

The pitching performances have been even more surprising, although Nathan Eovaldi’s problems in 2020 were down to injury. The 31-year-old is healthy once more and putting forward stellar outings as the club’s number one. Eduardo Rodriguez has returned to action after missing the entire 2020 campaign.

He has battled injury problems throughout his career, but he has been on point to date. Rodriguez has always boasted potential, but now faces the challenge of fulfilling it as the Red Sox’s second starting option. Boston’s pitching depth was one of the reasons for pessimism regarding their fortunes for the campaign.

Nick Pivetta has risen to the occasion for Cora and his team, winning all three of his first starts. If the 28-year-old can sustain that form, the Red Sox should remain in contention throughout the campaign. The potential return of Sale to the fold could give Cora four quality pitchers, while leaving the option for Chaim Bloom to deal in the trade market to supplement their ranks should a World Series surge beckon in the latter stages of the season.

The Red Sox have enjoyed an excellent start to the 2021 term. There are question marks whether they can sustain their form, but there are signs of encouragement that were not present before the start of the campaign.