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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups: Boston Red Sox Edition


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

There Is A Casting Call For Young Live Arms In Boston

Prior to the July 31 trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox held a complete fire sale of their starting pitchers, dealing away four out of five of their opening day rotation. Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey and Felix Doubront were all shipped out of Beantown, and it's hard to believe Clay Buchholz will remain in the rotation for very long. That will leave several open rotation spots open for some of Boston's younger pitchers. The BoSox have a plethora of young arms fighting for an opportunity, and in this week's column, I will examine the three that have the best chance of making a fantasy impact over the final two months of the 2014 season.

 

Rubby De La Rosa

Owned in 7% of Yahoo! Leagues, 5% Owned in Fleaflicker Leagues

Rubby De La Rosa has been a bit of a project, having signed with the Dodgers as an 18-year-old in 2007. In his first year in rookie ball in 2009, he posted a 6.06 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in just 16.1 innings pitched, but dominated every level at which he pitched over the next three seasons. He was called up for a short stint in 2011, during which he tossed 60.2 innings for Los Angeles and proved himself competent, allowing a 3.40 ERA over that span.

After being dealt to Boston prior to the 2013 season, De La Rosa struggled a bit in Triple-A, but found his way to the majors in May of 2014 in place of Clay Buchholz; De La Rosa has done everything he can to remain with the big club for good. In 54.1 frames to date, he sits at 3-4 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, with five of his nine outings going for quality starts. Since the move to Boston, De La Rosa has developed his secondary pitches, most notably his slider and change-up, and has improved his overall command tremendously. With his strikeout ability and likelihood to pick up wins with an improved Boston offense, the 25-year-old flamethrower can be considered a viable fantasy option in all AL-Only leagues, with his value likely to improve as the season progresses. De La Rosa will be taking the mound for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

 

Joe Kelly

Owned in 14% of Yahoo! Leagues, 9% Owned in Fleaflicker Leagues

Joe Kelly came over to Boston from St. Louis in the John Lackey deal, and he'll be thrown into the middle of the Boston rotation. Having been an on-and-off fifth starter in St. Louis, Kelly should get a chance to prove himself by being able to take the mound every fifth day. Additionally, in the case that the struggling Buchholz hits the disabled list again or is simply removed from the rotation, the 26-year-old Kelly will become the seasoned veteran of the Red Sox staff.

Looking past his 4.37 ERA in seven starts in 2014, there is a lot to like about the way Kelly has been pitching. Interestingly, despite his career-worst ERA, he has posted an above-average SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) of 3.73, the best of his young career. His ground ball to fly ball ratio sits at 2.51, up from 1.81 in 2013, and his K/BB ratio is up from 1.80 to 2.50. While his raw numbers are not ideal, Kelly is a very solid pitcher who could see his stats improve as he gets the ball on a consistent basis. Going forward, he can become a very legitimate fantasy option in AL-Only leagues and possibly in very deep mixed leagues. Kelly makes his Boston debut on Wednesday.

 

Brandon Workman

Owned in 1% of Yahoo! Leagues, 2% Owned in Fleaflicker Leagues

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Brandon Workman") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe soon-to-be 26-year-old  Brandon Workman has been a spot starter for the Red Sox all year, with nine games started spanning past 11 weeks, but he's another Sox pitcher who will likely be taking the mound every fifth day from here on out, barring injury. Unlike Kelly and De La Rosa, Workman has had no real major league experience prior to 2014, but he might have more upside than both of those pitchers.

Workman has a large frame that allows him to dial his fastball up to 95 or 96 mph, and his curveball has proven to be a strong second pitch. He has shown signs of improved command, but needs to continue to work on keeping the ball down in the zone and out of spots for hitters to jump on. He has gotten hit way too hard, as evidenced by his above average line drive percentage (21.8%) and fly ball percentage (39.6%) this season. If he can continue to improve his command, he would inevitably see a decrease in those numbers, which would help his overall statistics. For now, Workman is nothing more than a deep AL-Only fantasy option, but owners will want to keep track of how he pitches when given a consistent big-league opportunity, as his value could increase exponentially if he gets more comfortable on the mound. He will close out the series against the Cardinals Thursday night.

None of these starters is exceptionally appealing to a fantasy owner, but these guys all have potential to become quality starting pitchers before season's end, and each can be useful in a deep league where any arm will be of assistance. Chances are at least one or two young guys in the Red Sox rotation will finish the season on a strong note, but it is difficult to tell whom that will be, considering the lack of consistent success across the board. Still, they are each worth tracking and potentially adding in deep leagues. Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo are two other young pitchers in Boston's farm system to keep an eye on going forward.