Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Boston Red Sox Pitching Analysis: 2014 Fantasy Baseball


By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Clay Buchholz") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the aftermath of a disastrous 2012 campaign, the Red Sox pitching staff was characterized by fried chicken, beer, and a whole lot of question marks. Well one year  and one Duckboat parade later, can we now say the Sox staff is characterized by consistency and depth? Perhaps we can. After seasons of perpetual upheaval, the Red Sox have turned over more sideline reporters the past 4 months than Starting pitchers (we’ll miss you Jenny). There’s no true ace on the staff, but all five of their starters figure to carry some fantasy value and their bullpen figures to be a strong suit once again. Let’s take a look at the contributors one by one.

 

The Starting Rotation

Jon Lester

While no longer a Cy Young candidate, Jon Lester appears to have settled in as a reliable innings eating workhorse capable of helping fantasy owners in stat categories across the board. Following a down year in 2012 (at least according to his surface stats) Lester rebounded with a 15 win, 177 strikeout, sub 4 era campaign in 2013. His strikeout rate has declined from the mid 20% early in his career but he’s also brought his walk rate below 8% (9.5% between 2010 / 2011) and managed to keep his FIP (defense independent ERA) in the high 3s. As someone that hasn't thrown less than 193 innings in his last 6 seasons, he’s about as safe an option as you can find at the starting pitching position. Pitching behind one of the best offenses in baseball, I’d target Lester as a #2 or 3 option on my fantasy staff.

 

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Clay Buchholz") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz has pitched in the majors for the better part of six seasons and no two of those seasons look alike. You don’t believe me? here’s a look at his ERAs from 2008 to 2013: 6.75, 4.21, 2.33, 3.48, 4.56, 1.74. Clay gives new meaning to the term inconsistent. Unfortunately, the only real constant in his career has been injuries. He’s never crossed the 200 inning plateau and has made his way onto the disabled list in each of his 6 seasons (including major stretches in 4 of the 6). In short, Clay’s a tough one to figure out. Even when he finished 2nd in the league in ERA in 2010 his results (Wins / ERA) didn't match up with his peripherals (xFIP 4.07, less than 2/1 K/BB). But as a guy who has the proverbial “great stuff” (mid 90s fastball, hammer curve, swing and miss changeup), scouts have long wondered why those peripherals didn't catch up with the “stuff”. Well 2014 was finally the year that Clay appeared to put it all together as his strikeout rate ballooned to 23% after hovering around 18% for his career. Is the improved performance sustainable? I wouldn't expect a sub 2 ERA but there is reason for optimism. Buchholz appears to have finally mastered the cut fastball he’d been toying with for years and now boasts a legitimate 4 pitch repertoire. The question then becomes, where does one target Buchholz given his injury history? I think that’s largely a matter of  personal risk appetite, but as a pitcher with ace potential likely to be backed by a superior offense, he’s a guy I’d be willing to take a flier on once I’ve solidified the front end of my staff.

John Lackey

John Lackey - The fact that it's February of 2014 and I’m writing about John Lackey as anything but a spokesman for Popeyes or Budweiser would probably have been seen as a major upset for Red Sox fans heading into the 2013 season. Lackey provided more value to the Red Sox in the 2012 season he missed recovering from Tommy John surgery than in the 2011 season when he served up batting practice every 5th day to the tune of a 6.41 era. Seriously, I don’t think we can understate just how surprising John Lackey’s 2013 campaign was. Not only was he not the worst pitcher in baseball, he was actually pretty good (189 IP, 161K, 3.52 era). And yes the wins weren’t there, but it doesn't take Bill James to figure out that winning only 10 of your 29 starts with a sub 4 ERA on a team with the best offense in baseball was nothing more than a product of very poor luck. That begs the question, was 2013 a new baseline for Big Lack, or was it a statistical outlier for an aging pitcher in decline? A closer look at the numbers reveals some very encouraging signs for Lackey and his prospective fantasy owners. In his age 34 season, Lackey posted career bests in fastball velocity, groundball percentage, strikeout percentage, walk percentage and xFIP. And given how successful Lackey once was in Anaheim, that’s no small feat. In short, there’s no reason to think that Lackey’s 2013 isn’t sustainable into 2014 and beyond. Sure he’s no spring chicken (no pun intended) at 35, and he’s always at risk of injury given the arm troubles of his past, but you should be comfortable targeting Lackey as a top 50 pitcher and a borderline every week starter.

 

Jake Peavy

No longer the dominant force he was in San Diego, Jake Peavy has remade himself into a pretty effective pitcher, albeit one who’s unlikely to cross the 30 start or 200 inning threshold. Like many hurlers in the latter half of their careers, Peavy’s sacrificed strikeouts for improved control. He remains an extreme fly ball pitcher prone to the occasional gopher ball, but his ERA isn’t likely to go too far north of 4 given his ability to miss bats and shy away from the free pass. He’s thrown more than 150 regular season innings only once since 2008, but he’s certainly worth drafting as back end fantasy starter. Don’t count on 30 starts, but with the Sox lineup behind him, 25 starts should earn Peavy double digits wins and a semi-regular spot in your starting lineup.

 

Felix Doubront

The average Sox fan’s perception of Felix Doubront’s 2013 season was that it represented a step in the right direction. They’ll say he worked more efficiently and made strides toward becoming the mid rotation starter that the Sox had long hoped. In reality, Felix’s 2nd full year was about as effective as his first. He shaved a half a run off his ERA, primarily thanks to a reduction in his previously astronomical home run rate, but didn’t miss nearly as many bats and again struggled with his command. That said, Felix is only 26 and the fact that he’s struck out nearly a batter an inning in over 350 MLB innings shows that he has the raw ability to be a successful major league pitcher. With Dempster choosing to step away from the game in 2014, Doubront is assured of a regular spot in the rotation, and he should be drafted as a matchup play with some hidden post-hype upside.

The Red Sox have an abundance of talented young arms not too far away from the big leagues. We’ll take a closer look at them in a couple weeks in our prospects review, but with above five names all but etched onto the 25 man roster, it's hard to imagine any of the prospects cracking the year in the Show unless someone gets injured.

 

The Bullpen

Koji Uehera

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last eight months, I’ll take a sentence to summarize the spectacle that is Koji Uehera. He is a 38 year old, 190 pound, 89 mph throwing, high five making Japanese ball of energy who is coming off one of the most dominant relief seasons in MLB history. Is Koji likely to repeat his 2013  performance in which he accumulated a 41 to 1 (41 to 1!) strikeout to walk ratio after the all star break including a stretch that saw him nearly throw the equivalent of perfect game and a half? No, but his 2013 performance shouldn't have been as surprising as many think. The reality is that Koji was one of baseball’s most dominant relievers in the 3 years before his magical 2013 run - only injuries and opportunity prevented him from becoming a household name (2.36 ERA, 10.76 K/BB). As a matter of fantasy philosophy, I prefer to pass on the upper tier closers in hopes of eventually finding a star on the cheap (as I did last year with both Koji and Trevor Rosenthal in 2013), but if you're hell bent on nailing down an elite bullpen, don’t hesitate to target Koji after guys like Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman are drafted. Short of injury, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a top 5 reliever for a 2nd season running.

 

Junichi Tazawa

The Sox return 8th inning man Junichi Tazawa who figures to again be counted on in high leverage situations. Tazawa isn’t your classic overpowering reliever, but he’s very good. He’ll strikeout about a batter per inning. won’t walk many and should get plenty of hold opportunities. Whether or not he would get save opportunities should something happen to Uehera is hard to say. Junichi struggled in a brief cameo as closer last year and complicating matters is the fact that the Sox brought in former cardinals closer Edward Mujica. Mujica, was spectacular for stretches last year before falling out of favor with Mike Matheny. He’ll be in the mix with Tazawa for 7th and 8th inning duties and may potentially be next in line for saves.

Having now covered the Sox’ big league lineup and rotation, we’ll take a closer at the Farm System in the coming weeks .. . .




More Recent Articles

 

Week 12 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Colts Conundrum: What To Do With Marlon Mack Hurt

Hello, my name is Eric Samulski, and I spent all my FAAB on Brian Hill last week. Phew! I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now that that’s on the table, we can talk honestly about this week's biggest running back decision: How the Colts will replace Marlon Mack, who just underwent surgery on... Read More


NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 12) - Targets and Avoids

Sunday was one of the worst Sunday's Vegas has had all season and remaining entrants in survivor pools nearly had the same fate. However, the Vikings rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit, the 49ers scored late, and the Cowboys win was much narrower than it should have been. The Saints, Bills, and Ravens took care... Read More


Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 12

Apologies for not making it out last week. I welcomed my daughter into the world, and while I would have loved the distraction of looking at the ability of offensive lines, that wasn't going to happen. Moving onto Week 12, the outcome of your season-long leagues is now taking shape and you know if you... Read More


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Kenny Golladay

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More


Wide Receiver Leaderboards Entering the Final Stretch - NFL Next Gen Stats

We've consumed our first "double-digit week" set of games. That means we've entered the final part of the season and, in fact, the fantasy football playoffs are closer than you may realize. There are just three more weeks to go until we hit Week 14 and celebrate our presence in the run for the chip,... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Jeff Driskel, Deebo Samuel, Kenyan Drake

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 12

Rotoballers, if you're not active on the waiver wire this time of year, there are only two reasonable explanations: 1) You're sitting at 3-8 (or worse) and don't find it enjoyable to play spoiler to your league mates, or 2) You're 8-3 (or better) and have nothing but matchup-proof studs on your starting lineup and... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 12 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Week 12 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

This could be the most exciting installment of waiver wire adds in a while. Not that any of these choices are necessarily league-winners but at least we have a bunch of new names to ponder. Bye weeks are nearly over but this one will be particularly tough with the high-scoring Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, and Cardinals... Read More


Week 12 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Almost out of time to make that last push for the playoffs--no time like the present to squeak out a win because you picked the right defense. Below are RotoBaller's Week 12 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 12 of the NFL and... Read More


Week 12 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

It's Week 12, and the fantasy football playoffs are just around the corner. Teams are jostling for playoff position both in the real world and the fantasy world. You gotta have the right kicker at the right time in the right matchup, and it matters now more than ever. The margin for error in these... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 12. Some of you are concentrating on building lineups that will commandeer a spot in the fantasy playoffs, while others are making slight adjustments to teams that have already secured their place in the postseason.... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

Week 11 is behind us and we're getting closer and closer to the end of the fantasy regular season. For some of us, Week 12 represents the final chance to get into the postseason, while for others we have another week or two left. Here, to help you get ready for the playoffs, is a... Read More


Week 12 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

With fantasy football leagues only a couple weeks away from their playoffs, this is not the time for teams to be short a tight end. Not only do fantasy footballers have no Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry during this crucial week in their fantasy seasons, they do not get to take advantage of using a... Read More