MLB Team News & Rumors: Boston

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Boston Red Sox

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Boston Red Sox Team Projection

Below are my fantasy baseball player profiles for the entire Boston Red Sox starting rotation and bullpen.

1. SP Jon Lester

Jon Lester fantasy baseball

Lester bounced back last season, but he didn't pitch at the elite level he established from 2008 to 2011.? His command (2.8) was the key reason for improvement, but it didn't lead to a higher K rate (7.5%).? In 2009 and 2010, Lester had 450 K's.? Jon pitched well in April and May (3.53 ERA), but was a complete train wreck in June. He allowed 8 HR's and 16 walks in 28.3 innings, which led to a 7.62 ERA.? After more bad results in July and his first start in August (4.25), Lester found his rhythm over the last 10 starts (2.19 ERA) to somewhat save his season.? Jon went 5-1 in the postseason with a 1.56 ERA.? He pitched his best in the World Series (0.59 ERA with 15 K's in 15.3 innings).? Lester's skill set looked almost the same as 2012.? His AFB (92.7) was in line with his 2 previous seasons.? He throws a cutter as his #2 pitch followed by a changeup and curve ball.? It appeared Lester was overthrowing his off speed pitches.? The addition of Jon Farrell to the team was a huge upgrade to the pitching staff across the board.? Last year, Lester threw a career high 248 innings.? He pitched better as his workload increased.? His shorter K rate and high WHIP eliminates him from being a top 2 fantasy starter in 2014.? A solid arm pitching in a contract season, but I would temper my expectations this year.?

2. SP Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz fantasy baseball

Buchholz had a great season in 2013, but he missed half of the year with a right shoulder injury.? His AFB (91.9) has declined in the last 3 seasons, and his pitching repertoire was the same as his poor 2012.? The big change in his success was probably due to better command (3.0) and an improved cutter.? Clay dominated LH batters (.187) and had a career high K rate (8.0).? Buchholz does a very good job of limiting the number of fly balls given up (31.8%), which helped him set a career low HR/FB rate (4.5%).? When he returned in September, Clay pitched well (3-1 with 1.88 ERA).? He complained of shoulder fatigue in the playoffs, but tried to gut it out for the Sox.? Buchholz had a 4.35 ERA in the postseason, but didn't win any games.? Clay is in the last year of his contract with Boston.? He didn't need to have surgery in the offseason to correct his shoulder issues and has pitched two elite seasons in the majors (2010 - 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA and 2013 - 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA).? Buchholz has never had over 129 K's in any season during his career (on pace for 160 last season if he pitched 180 innings).? His low ERA will most likely pump up his draft value this season, but his underlying shoulder issues will keep me from over paying for him.?

3. SP Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy fantasy baseball

Peavy pitched well over his first 9 starts of the year (2.97 ERA with 63 K's in 60.7 innings).? He was bombed in back to back starts, which may have been a result of a non-displaced rib injury that needed 6 weeks to heal.? The White Sox traded him to Boston at the trade deadline.? Jake wasn't the same pitcher for the Red Sox.? His command (2.6) declined and his K rate (6.3) was 2+ K's less than his time with Chicago in 2013.? Peavy pitched poorly in September (5.40 ERA) and the playoffs (7.11 ERA).? His FB rate (46.6%) was a career high and his GB rate (32.7) was a career low (has declined in 4 straight seasons).? Peavy's AFB (90.7) has been about the same over the past 2 seasons.? Last year, he threw a career high 21.4% cutters.? The value of his slider is on the decline.? Jake also throws a curve ball and changeup.? Peavy has only had one season with an ERA under 4.00 in his four seasons since leaving San Diego.? He has also pitched short innings in four of his last five years.? Jake is a gamer and a professional pitcher.? The rib injury could have been reason for his lack of effectiveness late in the season.? I expect him to pitch very well for Boston this year with Farrell and Co. fine tuning his pitching motion.

4. SP John Lackey

John Lackey fantasy baseball

Lackey came into 2013 motivated to make a step forward.? He was in very good shape, which led to him having his best season since 2007.? Lackey had a slight scare in early April after John suffered a right bicep injury in the 5th inning of his first start of the year.? Overall, he allowed 3 runs or less in 21 of his 29 starts.? He had the best command (1.9) of his career and his K rate (7.7) was his highest since 2006.? His AFB (91.7) was the highest it has ever been.? He relied mainly on his slider, which he threw a career high 30% of the time.? For most of his career, his curve ball has been his #2 pitch.? Lackey struggled with HR's over the 2nd half of the year (1.4 per 9 innings).? Much of his success was driven by his ability to throw a higher volume of strikes (67% - career high). John went 3-1 in the postseason with a 2.77 ERA and 25 K's in 26 innings.? Lackey is a solid major league pitcher with plus command.? He is in his last year of his contract, so I expect him to pitch well again this year.? Possible 15 wins with a 3.75 ERA with 150+ K's.

5. SP Felix Doubront

Felix Doubront fantasy baseball

Doubront gave Boston some good innings at the back of the rotation in 2013.? He allowed 3 runs or less in 22 of his 27 starts.? His command (3.9) continues to hold him back from making a step forward.? Felix's inability to throw 1st pitch strikes (53%) was the reason why his K rate (7.7) regressed from 2012.? His AFB (90.5) was 2+ mph less than 2012.? Doubront throws a curve ball as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a solid changeup.? His command against RH batters needs to improve.? Doubront's K rate declined in every month last season (April - 11.2, May - 8.3, June - 7.3, July - 7.1, August - 6.7, and Sept - 5.7).? From May 16th to August 10th, Felix allowed 3 runs or less in 16 straight starts (2.76 ERA).? Doubront pitched poorly in 3 of his last 4 appearances, which led to his ERA dropping from 3.74 to 4.32 over the last month of the year.? Doubront has some upside, but he really needs his command to make a step forward.? He tends to be a soft player that needs better conditioning.? In 2014, he will need an injury or trade to earn a starting job.

6. SP Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster fantasy baseball

Dempster has been a tough ride in his 41 starts in the American league over the last 2 seasons (4.72 ERA and 1.448 WHIP).? Last year, he really struggled with his command (4.1 K rate - highest since 2006).? His AFB (89.2) has declined in each of his last 3 seasons.? Dempster throws a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by a split-finger fastball.? His HR/FB rate (13.8%) was a career high with Boston.? Furthermore, his high salary will almost insure that he will be the 5th starter for Boston in 2014.? His lack of success against RH batters (.280 with 16 HR's allowed) will be his downfall again in 2014.? Dempster has surprised in the past after a poor season, but father time has eroded away his fastball.?Update: Dempster has decided to take the year off to spend time with his kids, but he isn't retiring. This leads me to believe there is an underlying health concern somewhere. He has no value in 2014.

7. RP Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa fantasy baseball

De La Rosa was handled with kid gloves last year at AAA.? He made 20 starts, but rarely pitched into the 5th inning.? Ruby averaged less than 3 innings per game.? His K rate (8.5) was below his career average in the minors and his command (5.4) was poor.? His AFB was 95.2 in his 11.3 innings in the majors.? His 2nd best pitch is a changeup and he is trying to develop a slider.? His lack of command will force him back to the minors in 2014. De La Rosa had Tommy John surgery in August of 2011.? He has had plenty of time to recover, but the injury has hurt his development time.? His big fastball and lack of a 3rd pitch may lead to him pitching in relief in the majors.?

8. CL Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara fantasy baseball

Uehara was electric in the 9th inning for the Red Sox last season.? He was the 3rd option to close and there were concerns about him pitching back to back games.? Koji engineered a Dennis Eckersley type of season with his plus command (1.1).? He only had 9 walks in 74.3 innings (2 intentional).? His K rate (12.2) was a career high. Uehara converted 21 of 24 save opportunities in the regular season, plus 7 of 8 chances in the playoffs.? In the postseason, he had 16 K's with no walks in 13.7 innings and a 0.65 ERA.? Last year, he pitched in the most games since moving to the U.S. and threw a career high 88 total innings.? Uehara has a short fastball (89.2) and only threw it 46% of the time.? His high K total is a result of a plus split-finger fastball (48.3%), which he threw more than his fastball last season.? Koji is a flyball pitcher who has struggled with HR's in the past.? As good as his season was, many fantasy players will be skeptical in 2014.? He'll start the year at age 39 with a high volume of innings on his questionable arm.? I have to respect his success, but I will bail on him on the first sign of a sore shoulder in spring training.?

9. RP Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa fantasy baseball

Tazawa wasn't as electric as Uehara last season, but he did give Boston a huge boost late in games after Bailey and Hanrahan went down with injuries.? He has had excellent command (1.6) over the last 2 seasons with an improving K rate (9.5).? He threw 68% of his pitches for strikes, which is a very good sign for him going forward. His AFB (93.5) is strong enough to pitch in the 9th inning if Koji had a problem, but Junichi will need to keep the home runs under control.? His 2nd best pitch is a split-finger fastball as well, and his command was solid against both RH and LH batters.? However, he didn't dominate either side of the plate and faded in September (6.48 ERA).? He did bounce back to pitch well in the playoffs (0.96 ERA).? Solid bullpen arm with command which gives him a chance to be the next in line for saves.

10. RP Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica fantasy baseball

Last year, Mujica emerged as the closer for the Cardinals in April after Jason Motte went down with a elbow injury.? The closing job was expected to go to Trevor Rosenthal, but he struggled out of the gate in 2013.? Mujica took the job and ran with it for 5 months before fading in September.? Just like Uehara and Tazawa, Mujica's best pitch is a split-finger fastball and he throws it more than his fastball (91.9).? Edward had more success against LH batters (.232) last season.? Mujica has plus command (1.4) but a weak K rate (6.4).? He has had problems with HR's during his career, which is another reason he doesn't belong in the 9th inning.? He may be next in line to close just based on his success last year, but I don't trust him long term.


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