2023 Preview: Boston Red Sox

An in-depth fantasy breakdown and preview ahead of the 2023 Red Sox season

Rafeal Devers Boston Red Sox

Legendary fantasy expert Shawn Childs will be breaking down all 30 teams ahead of the 2023 MLB season. This is the kind of deep-diving, advanced information you can only get from FullTimeFantasy. Next, Shawn’s 2023 Preview: Boston Red Sox.

Also, check out Shawn’s extensive breakdown of his unique FPGscore, which gives you a huge edge over the competition. Plus, you’ll learn more about other advanced metrics like Average Hit Rate (AVH) and Contact Batting Average (CTBH.) 

2023 Boston Red Sox

Twice over the past two seasons, the Red Sox have been the cellar dwellers in the AL East. They no longer have the foundations of aces to compete for a World Series title, and Boston has seen some of their best bats move to other teams over the past few seasons. 

Last year, they slipped to 25th in ERA (4.53), with a lower ranking in the bullpen (33-33 with a 4.59 ERA, 39 saves, and 627 strikeouts). Michael Wacha (3.32 ERA with 104 strikeouts over 127.1 innings) was their only asset in the starting rotation. 

Their pitching future lies in the development of Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock, and Tanner Houck. In addition, the Red Sox need Chris Sale to pitch like an ace or move him to a contender for some developing arms. James Paxton should prove to be a value after missing all of 2022 with his recovery from TJ surgery. When rebuilding a major league team, it makes no sense to spend on offense when your pitching isn’t ready to contend. 

Boston slipped to ninth in runs (735), 20th in home runs (155), and ninth in RBIs (704). They only stole 52 bases (26th). Their best assets came in batting average (.258 – 3rd) and doubles (352 – 1st).

The Red Sox lost SS Xander Bogaerts to the Padres, and OF J.D. Martinez signed with the Dodgers. Boston gave 3B Rafael Devers an 11-year contract extension worth $331 to be the face of their franchise. 

In the offseason, they added 3B Justin Turner, SP Corey Kluber, CL Kenley Jansen, and OF Masataka Yoshida. They signed RP Chris Martin, RP Joely Rodriguez, and 2B Niko Goodrum in minor deals. Boston moved on from SP Rich Hill, SP Nathan Eovaldi, RP Matt Strahm, 1B Eric Hosmer, and OF Franchy Cordero.

This season, Boston hopes to be in the wild-card hunt while waiting for their next generation of bats to develop in the minors. However, they can’t compete this year with the Yankees and Blue Jays, and Tampa continues to have a top-tier pitching staff. So, the Red Sox’s next big move will be finding a front-end ace via a trade or free agency.

Starting Lineup

OF Masataka Yoshida

In early December, Boston signed Yoshida to a five-year deal worth $90 million. Over his seven seasons in Japan, he hit .326 with 425 runs, 135 home runs, 474 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases over 2,759 at-bats. His best asset has been his hit tool and plate discipline (427 walks and 307 strikeouts). 

Over the past three seasons, Yoshida missed 79 out of a possible 432 games due to various injuries. He projects as a defensive liability with minimal speed. His contact batting average has had a floor of .360 over the previous five seasons, leading to his edge in batting average over this span. Yoshida had been on base more than 45% of the time in 2020 and 2021, but his run rates (32 and 26) over this span don’t project well.

Fantasy Outlook: I see a line drive/groundball swing path that will lead to many singles. Yoshida should enjoy using the wall at Fenway, but I expect many of his flies to right field to end up as outs instead of in the stands. His ADP (251) in early January in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship ranks him 57th in the outfield. I only see help in batting average, making Yoshida a four-category drag in the fantasy market. My conservative bar is .290 with 75 runs, 15 home runs, 60 RBIs, and five steals with 500 at-bats.

2B Trevor Story

In his first season with Boston, Story missed 68 games, with two stints (wrist and heel) on the injured list. He struggled over his first 72 at-bats (.208/8/0/6), followed by sensational production (.252 with 21 runs, nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and six stolen bases over 107 at-bats). Over his next 32 games, Story lost his approach (43 strikeouts and five walks), leading to a step back in results (.203/20/6/18/3 over 128 at-bats). He hit .340 over his final 50 at-bats, with one home run and eight RBIs. 

His launch angle (17.8) has been home run favoring six of his seven years in the majors, and Story saw his barrel rate (11.3) rise for the third consecutive season. He has never had a flyball rate (45.2 in 2022 and 44.8 in his career) lower than 42.3%. Over the last three years, his HR/FB rate (13.4, 13.9, and 14.8) failed to match his 2018 (19.9) and 2019 (19.9) seasons with the Rockies.

Story continues to have a slightly better-than-league average walk rate (8.1) while giving back all his gains in strikeout rate from 2018 to 2021 (25.1 – 23.4 in 2021) with Boston (30.8). In addition, his bat was an edge at home (.252 with 28 runs, 12 home runs, 39 RBIs, and three steals over 171 at-bats). 

Fantasy Outlook: Story still checks the power and speed boxes, and he had his best season with the Red Sox in RBI rate (18.6). When in peak form from 2018 to 2020, he ranked in the top 10 for hitters by FPGscore. This draft season, his ADP (81) ranks him as the 46th for batters. To regain his lost value in batting average, Story must clean up his approach and push his contact batting average over .390, something he did each year from 2018 to 2020 (.405, .418, and .395).

Injury Update: Story surprisingly had surgery on his right elbow on January 10th. His procedure (internal brace) most likely requires at least six months for a player his age. Therefore, Story now falls into the un-draftable list. 

3B Rafael Devers

The step back in the quality of the Red Sox starting lineup is highlighted by Devers’ regression in runs (84) and RBIs (88). He came to the plate with 366 runners on base (483 in 2021), with growth in his RBI rate (17.5 – 16.4 in 2021). 

Devers missed time in July and August with back and hamstring issues. Before his injuries, he was one of the best players in baseball (.324 over 346 at-bats with 62 runs, 22 home runs, 55 RBIs, and two steals). However, Devers lost his power stroke after the All-Star break (.249/22/5/33/1 over 209 at-bats). 

In his career, 116 of his 139 home runs have come off right-handed pitching. Devers’ next step in his growth will come vs. lefties (.270 with 23 home runs and 114 RBIs over 835 at-bats). In addition, his strikeout rate (18.6) improved in back-to-back seasons while offering a league-average walk rate (8.1 – 8.8 over the past two years). 

Devers ranked 6th in exit velocity (93.1), 12th in hard-hit rate (50.9), and 57th in barrel rate (11.5). His HR/FB rate (16.3 – 18.3 in his career) was the lowest in his six seasons with Boston. He has yet to have a fly-ball rate over 38.3%.

Fantasy Outlook: When building a fantasy team, I’m looking for a high-average power bat as one of my first three hitters. Devers is a beast, and we have yet to see his ceiling. The Red Sox lineup behind in the batting order isn’t what it once was, but he should come to the plate with plenty of runners on base. With further growth in his approach, Devers would become a .300+ hitter with the power to hit more than 40 home runs. He is the fourth-ranked third baseman in the NFBC in early January with an ADP of 19. 

3B Justin Turner

Turner has gone over 500 at-bats only twice in his career. Last year, he missed 34 games due to missed time with abdomen and lower leg issues. 

After matching his career-high in home runs (27) in 2021, he saw a sharp decline in power (13 home runs) and regression in his average hit rate (1.577). Nevertheless, Turner maintained a high RBI rate (18), pointing to a favorable slot in the Red Sox batting order. His batting average has been higher than the league average in the past 10 seasons.

Over the first half of 2021, he only hit .256 with 40 runs, eight home runs, and 51 RBIs. Turner provided a batting average edge after the All-Star break (.319) while only seeing 163 at-bats due to injuries. His approach (strikeout rate – 16.7 and walk rate – 9.4) continues to grade better than the league average. 

He finished 39th in launch angle (18.4), supported by his fly-ball swing path (43.4). Turner ranked 118th in hard-hit rate (41.6) and 145th in barrel rate (8.0). His spray chart for home run bodes well for Fenway Park.

Fantasy Outlook: Boston will play Turner at 1B, 3B, and DH this year. The change in ballpark and league should help his power stats, but he needs the backend of the Red Sox lineup to improve to help him in runs. In most seasons, Turner tends to miss time, making it difficult to gain his edge in counting stats and more than 500 at-bats. At the very least, he is a .280+ hitter with 75 runs, 20 home runs, and 80 RBIs if Turner stays on the field for 135 games. His early ADP (273) in the NFBC ranks him 25th at third base.

1B Triston Casas

Over his first 1,019 at-bats in the minors, Casas hit .269 with 177 runs, 46 home runs, 181 RBIs, and 10 steals. His walk rate (13.6) grades well while keeping his strikeout rate (21.6) near the league average. Last year, he hit .248 over his first 129 at-bats at AAA with 22 runs, six home runs, and 22 RBIs. Unfortunately, an ankle injury pushed him to the injured list for eight weeks. Casas played another 36 games at AAA (.296/23/5/16 over 135 at-bats) before the Red Sox called him up in September.

With Boston, he walked 20% of the time with a step back in his strikeout rate (24.2). In his time in the minors (1.873, 1.733, and 1.782) and with the Red Sox (2.067), Casas had a high floor in his average hit rate, pointing to 30+ home runs early in his major league career. His low batting average (.197) in Boston was tied to an outlier contact batting average (.283 – .361 in the minors). 

Casas struggled in the minors over the past two seasons against left-handed pitching (.217 over 161 at-bats with one home run and 13 RBI). 

Fantasy Outlook: Red Sox fans miss Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, but they need to remember where those players came from in their minor league system. Casas projects as a middle-of-order bat with immense power and the approach to hit for average. In 2023, Boston should use him in a platoon role until he proves he can handle left-handed pitching. Casas has never had more than 430 at-bats in season in the minors, so there are some durability concerns. His ADP (229) in the NFBC looks too high for me, as I don’t expect more than 450 at-bats in 2023. My early thought is .270 with 70 runs, 20 home runs, and 60 RBIs. 

OF Alex Verdugo

Last year, the Red Sox gave Verdugo 375 at-bats hitting between fourth and fifth in the batting order. Over those chances, he batted .283 with 48 runs, nine home runs, and 54 RBIs. His RBI chances (437) graded well, but Verdugo continues to offer minimal power, highlighted by his fading average hit rate (1.446). 

Since arriving in Boston, he lowered his strikeout rate (13.4) each season (20.4 in 2020 and 15.9 in 2021). His walk rate (6.5) fell below the league average for the second time in four seasons. Verdugo only had one home run and 20 RBI over 154 at-bats vs. lefties, but he hit .266 with minimal damage in strikeouts (24). 

Despite hitting more flyballs (32.9% – 29.5 in his career) and posting a career-low groundball rate (45.6), Verdugo saw his HR/FB rate (6.5) fade for the season straight year (14.0 in 2019 and 10.1 in 2020). His launch angle (8.4) ranked 258th out of 317 batters with 250 plate appearances.

Fantasy Outlook: Verdugo is a player who is easy to misprice in fantasy. He has a serviceable bat, but his overall skill set has a tweener feel. He doesn’t have enough speed or on-base percentage to consistently hit at the top of a major league lineup. In addition, his lack of power paints him as a weak link if relied on to bat in the middle of the batting order. Last season, Verdugo ranked 82nd in FPGscore (-0.37). This draft season, he is the 121st-ranked hitter (92nd in 2021) with an ADP of 202 in the NFBC in early January. In the end, adding him is all about team structure. If your team has speed and power, Verdugo could be the batting average cover you are looking for while also hoping that his game improves. A baby step would be .300 with 80 runs, 15 home runs, and 80 RBIs. 

OF Adam Duvall

After offering a power bat in 2016 (.241 with 33 home runs and 103 RBIs over 552 at-bats) and 2017 (.249 with 31 home runs and 99 RBIs over 587 at-bats) to the Reds, Duvall faded to a bench role in 2018 and 2019.

Over his 272 games with the Braves over the past five seasons, he hit .224 with 124 runs, 54 home runs, and 133 RBIs over 562 at-bats. The Marlins signed him in 2021, leading to success in power (22 home runs and 68 RBIs over 314 at-bats). However, injuries in the Braves’ outfield led to them acquiring him in late July. Duvall finished the year with a career-high in home runs (38) with the most RBIs (113) in the National League.

Last season, Duval only had a part-time role for Atlanta (.213/39/12/36 over 287 at-bats).

His strikeout rate (32.1) was a career-high with a below-par walk rate (6.7). Duvall has a top-shelf average hit rate (1.885) in most seasons. He had a spike in his RBI rate (21) in 2021, that wasn’t repeatable in 2022 (15).

Fantasy Outlook: His fading approach paints him as a streaky player who could quickly lose playing time when he isn’t making contact. He comes off the board at pick 439 in early February in the NFBC. Pretty much low-average power, but Duvall can’t help fantasy teams if he is sitting on the bench.

2B Kiki Hernandez

After having the best season of his career in Boston in 2021, Hernandez landed on the injured list in early June for nine weeks with a hip injury. His bat was empty over his first 51 games (.209 with 27 runs, four home runs, and 24 RBIs over 215 at-bats). Hernandez finished with his lowest strikeout rate (17.7) since 2018 while seeing his walk rate (7.5) fall short of his career average (8.9). 

He had regression in his exit velocity (87.8), along with a sharp decline in his hard-hit rate (35.0 – 43.2 in 2021) and barrel rate (5.8 – 8.4 in 2021). Hernandez repeated his flyball swing (42.5%), but only 4.8 left the park (10.7 in 2021).

Over his nine years in the majors, he has more than 415 at-bats in one season. He has a career .239 average with 384 runs, 97 home runs, 332 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. 

Fantasy Outlook: The injury to Trevor Story adds shortstop as another possible position for Hernandez to get playing time. The best success in his career has been against lefties (.259 with 51 home runs and 134 RBIs over 1,065 at-bats), suggesting a semi-platoon split in 2023. His ADP (402) in the NFBC put him in the free-agent pool in 12-team formats. I don’t see an edge, but Hernandez may offer replacement value at some point in the season. 

C Connor Wong

Wong has five seasons under his belt in the minors, setting a reasonable floor (.276 with 208 runs, 71 home runs, 230 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases over 1,426 at-bats). Boston gave him experience at AAA over the last two years, where he hit .276 with 23 home runs, 70 RBIs, and 14 steals over 522 at-bats. 

His strikeout rate (28.5) in the minors invites batting average risk in the majors. With Boston, he whiffed 23 times over 70 plate appearances (32.9%) while hitting .213 with 11 runs, one home run, and eight RBIs.

Fantasy Outlook: The Red Sox have a weakness at catcher in early January, which may be addressed via free agent before the start of the season. Wong isn’t ready to be an everyday catcher in the majors, but he does bring speed and power with athletic ability. For now, a placeholder while letting his bat do his waiver wire talking.

SS Adalberto Mondesi

Mondesi continues to give away upside due to his high strikeout rate – 30.2 in his career) while also having a shallow walk rate (4.4). In the past, he overcame this shortfall thanks to a high contact batting average (.384, .385, and .376 from 2018 to 2020). Over 35 games in 2021, his average hit rate (1.966) pushed to a difference-maker level.

Mondesi missed 274 games over the past two years with oblique and hamstring issues, plus a season-ended torn ACL in 2022. 

Over his career, he tends to have a groundball swing path (.45.4%). His flyball rate (12.9 in his career) did spike over short at-bats (126) in 2021 (17.6). Mondesi’s exit velocity (89.7) rose in 2021 (92.3), along with his hard-hit rate (44.2 – 35.5 in his career). 

Fantasy Outlook: Packed with injury risk and impact speed, Mondesi will be a player many fantasy managers avoid in 2023. His recovery time gives him a chance to be ready for the start of the season, but the Red Sox won’t push him too hard. As a result, his ADP (246) is well below his price point in 2021 (57th). He fits the one-stop shopping mode for stolen bases, and 20+ home runs are well within his reach. However, his approach isn’t ideal for hitting at the top of the batting order. Nevertheless, if Mondesi plays 150 games, he will be a top-10 player in fantasy value in roto formats. He is a risk/reward player this season who is helped by the trade to Boston.

OF Jarren Duran

Over his first two seasons in the minors, Duran hit .322 with 142 runs, eight home runs, 73 RBIs, and 70 stolen bases over 802 at-bats while seeing action at four lower levels. After minor league baseball was canceled in 2020, he revived his career at AAA, where Duran unlocked the keys to his power (.272 with 95 runs, 26 home runs, 74 RBIs, and 34 steals over 523 at-bats). His strikeout rate (21.4) and walk rate (8.0) came in at about the league average in his minor league career.

Boston gave him 311 at-bats over the past two seasons, leading to Duran hitting .219 with 40 runs, five home runs, 27 RBIs, and nine steals. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has been a liability in 2021 (35.7) and 2022 (28.3). In addition, his walk rate (5.4) came in below his minor-league resume. His swing path has led to a 50% groundball rate so far in his pro career.

Fantasy Outlook: At age 26, Duran can’t be considered an elite prospect. He brings speed to the Red Sox outfield, but his defense still needs work, and his arm will never be an edge. However, his offensive game looks to be in transition as Duran tries to balance his former punch and July approach with his newfound power. He still needs time at AAA as major league arms eat up his lack of confidence at the plate. The injury to Trevor Story opens up a slot in the Red Sox starting lineup. Duran has a lot to prove, which begins with success in spring training.

1B Bobby Dalbec

After a helpful fantasy season in 2021, Dalbec lost his power stroke, leading to less playing time and production. He continues to have a tremendous strikeout rate (33.4 – 34.9 in the majors), with a slight bump in his walk rate (8.2). Unfortunately, the Red Sox didn’t give him one month of full-time at-bats. Dalbec didn’t offer an edge against right-handed (.204/7/26 over 221 at-bats) or left-handed (.240/5/13 over 96 at-bats) pitching. 

His exit velocity (90.3 mph) ranked 68th with strength in his hard-hit rate (45.8). Dalbec saw his HR/FB rate (14.5) come in well below 2021 (22.1), supported by a drop in his average hit rate (1.721 – 2.060 in 2021). He also struggled to drive in runs (RBI – 11).

Over five years in the minors, Dalbec hit .261 with 226 runs, 84 home runs, 264 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases over 1,418 at-bats. He showed the ability to take walks (11.6%) while striking out 29.7% of the time.

Fantasy Outlook: Dalbec is a challenging batter to time. Boston should use him in a platoon role with Triston Casas at first base. If his power returns, he’ll press for more playing time. 

2B Christian Arroyo

The Giants selected Arroyo in the first round in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft, but his bat failed to make an impact over nine seasons in the minors (.289 with 264 runs, 34 home runs, 261 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases over 1,832 at-bats).

His best major league opportunity came over the past two years with Boston (.277 with 54 runs, 12 home runs, 61 RBIs, and six stolen bases over 444 at-bats). Last year his strikeout rate (16.3) was a career-best, but he barely took any walks over the last two seasons (4.4%).

Arroyo has a groundball swing path (29.2% in 2022 and 27.9 in his career).

Fantasy Outlook: Boston should give Arroyo a chance at regular at-bats at second base if they decide to start Kiki Hernandez at shortstop or outfield. He has a low ceiling, but his bat may offer short-term injury cover at home.

2B Nick Yorke

Boston snatched up Yorke with the 17th pick in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft. He quickly rewarded the Red Sox with success at A Ball (.323/59/10/47/11 over 294 at-bats) and High A (.333/17/4/15/2 over 84 at-bats) in 2021. Unfortunately, his bat didn’t respond well last year, leading to him stalling at High A (.232 with 48 runs, 11 home runs, 45 RBIs, and eight steals over 337 at-bats).

Yorke landed on the injured list in June with a toe issue, followed by a wrist injury in July. His walk rate (10.4) has top-of-the-order upside while offering a league-average strikeout rate (20.0). After two minor league seasons, his average hit rate (1.582) isn’t high enough to project 20 home runs. Yorke had a sharp decline in his contract batting average (.321) last season, which was a surprise.

Fantasy Outlook: Yorke projects as a high-average bat with developing power. Boston should start him at AA, and success should lead to a call-up to AAA by the summer. He will steal some bases, but Yorke doesn’t have elite speed. His opportunity in the majors now looks to be in 2024 unless his bat catches fire early this year.

Starting Pitching

SP Chris Sale

After having TJ surgery in late March of 2020, Sale returned to the majors on August 14th of the following year. Before his return, he looked electric over 20 innings in the minors (1.35 ERA, five walks, and 35 strikeouts). In nine starts with Boston, Sale allowed three runs or fewer, leading to a 5-1 record with a 3.16 ERA and 52 strikeouts over 42.2 innings. Unfortunately, he failed to help the Red Sox in the postseason (eight runs, 16 baserunners, and two home runs over nine innings with 11 strikeouts).

Last year, his season lasted only two starts (three runs and six baserunners over 5.2 innings with five strikeouts) due to a spring training rib injury, followed by a broken finger via a batted ball in July and a fractured right wrist in early August from a bicycle accident. 

Over his 12 years in the majors, Sale went 114-75 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,064 strikeouts over 1,678 innings. He hasn’t pitched over 160 innings since 2017 (214.1 innings).

Fantasy Outlook: With only 48.1 innings pitched over the past three seasons, the fantasy market doesn’t have a feel for how to price Sale. His ADP (158) seems more than fair based on his career resume. With a healthy spring training and a live fastball with command, he should move up draft boards. I expect him to be a value pitcher, and Boston may end up trading to a contender if they fall out of the race early in the year. 

SP Corey Kluber

After battling a shoulder injury for three seasons, Kluber gutted out 31 starts for Tampa Bay. He led the American League in walk rate (1.2), but his strikeout rate (7.6) was a career-low. Batters hit .274 against him (.220 from 2014 to 2018). 

Kluber had two disaster showings over his first six starts (12 runs and 23 baserunners over eight innings). From May 16th to June 25th (eight starts), he posted a 2.70 ERA over 43.1 innings with five walks and 39 strikeouts. However, his arm blew up over the following six weeks (5.98 ERA, 1.374 WHIP, and .305 BAA over 43.2 innings). Kluber continued to throw strikes over his final 47.1 innings (four walks), but home runs (7) and a higher batting average (.287) led to a losing ERA (4.18).

His average fastball (89.1) declined for eight consecutive seasons while rating well below his career-best (94.3 in 2014). Kluber only had one pitch of value (changeup – .222 BAA) while relying on a sinker (.287 BAA), slider (.258 BAA), and cutter (.287 BAA). 

Fantasy Outlook: Last year, Kluber pitched more up in the strike zone, leading to a career-high flyball rate (42.0 – 34.5 in his career). He did keep his HR/FB rate (9.3) under control. I don’t expect this to happen again. Pitching in Boston invites more disaster showings. At the very least, a gamble inning eater who should be handled with care over a long baseball season.

SP James Paxton

Paxton didn’t pitch well in any of his five starts in 2020, which ultimately led to TJ surgery after one appearance the following season. Boston signed him to bridge him through 2022, but he failed to make it to a major league mound. Paxton battled his elbow in early May, slowing down his recovery. His minor league season ended in August after two-thirds of an inning due to a lat injury.

After flashing in 2017 over 24 starts (12-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 136 innings), Paxton hasn’t been unable to repeat his success or develop into a high-volume pitcher. 

From 2017 to 2019, he went 38-17 with a 3.54 ERA and 550 strikeouts over 447 innings. His strikeout rate (11.5) remained high in 2020, but Paxton served up too many home runs (1.8 per nine). 

Fantasy Outlook: Paxton falls into the free look category in the early draft season in the NFBC (ADP – 537) as drafters wait to see him on the mound in spring training. I can’t trust him to make more than 25 starts, but I can’t ignore his help in strikeouts.

SP Nick Pivetta

Pivetta fell into the tease arm category for some drafters last season. He finished with the same number of strikeouts (175), with continued struggles with home runs (1.4 per nine) and walk rate (3.7). His ERA (4.56) and WHIP (1.380) have never been an asset in his major league career. Pivetta set career-highs in starts (33) and innings (179.2). 

After a rough April (8.27 ERA and 1.959 WHIP), he looked sharp over his next 12 starts (2.18 ERA, 0.9447 WHIP, and .193 BAA), leading to a correction in his season’s ERA (3.23). Three starts later (20 runs, 30 baserunners, and four home runs over 13.1 innings), Pivetta crushed all of his gains. His season ended with more crooked stats (4.65 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, and .276 BAA) over 71.2 innings). 

His average fastball (93.6) was down 1.3 mph. Batters struggled to hit his four-seamer (.236 BAA) and slider (.191 BAA). Pivetta lost the feel for his curveball (.295 BAA – .173 in 2021) while adding a losing low-volume split-finger fastball (.563 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Based on the direction of his profile, Pivetta would be better served pitching out of the bullpen. Any growth in his stats starts with his command. I expect continued WHIP risk with plenty of good days when he throws strikes. Pivetta has an ADP of 405 in the early draft season in the NFBC.

SP Garrett Whitlock

In 2018, Whitlock broke through with an exceptional season at three minor league levels (8-5 with a 1.86 ERA and 122 strikeouts over 120.2 innings). Unfortunately, he blew out his right elbow midway through 2019, leading to TJ surgery. Nevertheless, the Rex Sox saw enough in his arm to select him in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

With no experience at AAA, Whitlock proved to be a steal after dominating in Boston’s bullpen in 2021 over 46 games (8-4 with a 1.96 ERA, 81 strikeouts, and two saves over 73.1 innings). Right-handed batters failed to make hard contact (.199 with two home runs over 176 at-bats), but his arsenal did come up short vs. lefties (.293 BAA).

Last season, the Red Sox struggled to find Whitlock’s best role. His success in 2021 suggested the ninth inning was the best fit for him. After four relief appearances (one run over 9.2 innings with four hits and 11 strikeouts), Boston pushed Whitlock to the starting rotation (4.15 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 39 innings) before landing on the injured list for five weeks with a hip injury. When he returned, Whitlock made 18 relief appearances (3.34 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 29.2 innings) before being shut down in mid-September to have hip surgery.

Whitlock featured an elite fastball (96.1) while relying on plus pitches (changeup – .110 BAA). However, his slider (.318 BAA) was less effective against righties than in 2021 (.175 BAA). 

Fantasy Outlook: The Red Sox expect Whitlock to be ready for spring training, but they have yet to state whether he’ll start or pitch in relief. His command paired with his fastball grade well once he shows the ability to throw more innings. Saves look out of the question, so he almost has to start to help fantasy teams. His ADP (283) in the NFBC is favorable if Whitlock lands a starting gig. 

SP Brayan Bello

The success over Bello over the last two seasons in the minors (3.10 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 262 strikeouts over 191.1 innings) gives Boston hopes that they have a developing top-of-the-rotation arm. The Red Sox gave him 11 starts and two relief appearances last year, but he struggled with command in and out of the strike zone (4.2 walks per nine and .315 BAA). 

Over his first five appearances in the majors, Bello was overmatched (8.47 ERA, 2.294 WHIP, and 11 walks over 17 innings). He missed about three weeks with a groin injury in August. After two more dull starts (five runs and 15 baserunners over nine innings), Bello flashed his potential over the next five games (1.65 ERA with 10 walks and 27 strikeouts over 27.1 innings). Unfortunately, his season ended with a poor showing in Toronto (four runs and 12 baserunners over four innings with four strikeouts). 

Despite his erratic starts, Bello only allowed one home run with the Red Sox over 57.1 innings. Most of his drama was self-created by falling behind in the counts and issuing free passes. His average fastball (97.0) was elite in velocity but not results (four-seamer – .378 BAA and sinker – .402 BAA). In addition, Bello featured a plus changeup (.155) while batting his slider (.277 BAA). 

Fantasy Outlook: The first hurdles for Bello to clear to become an asset to Boston and fantasy teams in 2023 are: better command, especially against lefties, more confidence on the road, and better fastball location. Red Sox great Pedro Martinez sees a great arm and has spent time in the offseason to help Bello hit the ground running this year. Based on his ADP (321) in the NFBC in January, he will draw plenty of attention from the wise guys in drafts. With positive reports in spring training, Bello will fly up draft boards while falling into the sleeper/breakout category.

SP Bryan Mata

Over his first three seasons in the minors, Mata went 18-16 with 246 strikeouts over 254 innings. He had huge issues with walks (58 over 72 innings) in 2018 at High A, but his command made some strides (42 walks over 105 innings) the following season between High A and AA.

Mata didn’t pitch in 2020 (Covid-19 year), and he blew out his right elbow in April 2021 (TJ surgery). Boston gave him experience at four levels last year, leading to a combined 7-3 record with a 2.49 ERA and 105 strikeouts over 83 innings. His walk rate (5.0) remained a liability, but Mata did add more strikeouts (11.4 per nine) to his stat line. 

His foundation arsenal is built on an upper 90s fastball with an explosive swing-and-miss slider. 

Fantasy Outlook: Mata will start the season at AAA, where he needs to work on his command. If he can’t throw more strikes, the Red Sox may move him to the bullpen to take advantage of his top two pitches.

Bullpen

CL Kenley Jansen

After their bullpen posted a 4.59 ERA in 2022, Boston added Jansen to hopefully solve their ninth-inning issues. Over his 13 years in the majors, he has a 2.46 ERA, 1,107 strikeouts, and 391 saves over 769 innings.

In 2018 and 2019, Jansen battled home runs (22 over 134.2 innings), suggesting he was on the back nine of his career as a closer. Over the past three seasons, his walk rate (3.8) came in well below his career average (2.6), but he continued to be challenging to hit (.179 BAA) with a high strikeout rate (11.7) 

Jansen led the National League in saves (41) in 2022 while giving up the lead in seven games. Despite his overall success (3.38 ERA), he struggled in May (4.26 ERA) and August (4.82 ERA and 1.607 WHIP).

His average sinker (93.6 mph) fell into a similar range as the previous three seasons. Jansen features a cutter (92.2 mph) as his top usage pitch. He successfully got batters out with all three of his offerings (sinker – .233 BAA, slider – .206 BAA, and cutter – .161 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Jansen has a proven track record with a reasonable floor in saves. His ADP (77) in the NFBC ranks him as the 11th closer drafted. However, I expect some balls to drop over the wall in left field at Fenway Park, and pitching in the AL East invites regression in his ERA and WHIP. On the positive side, Jansen does have almost the same ERA at home (2.45) and road (2.47) in his career. In the end, drafting him is about saves while understanding the signs of decline.

RP Tanner Houck

Boston gave Houck three starts (3.21 ERA and 1.286 WHIP over 14 innings) to open the year, but Boston quickly moved him to the bullpen in late April. After two disaster showings (10 runs and 10 baserunners over five innings) in early May, he pitched his way to their closing conversation over his subsequent 25 appearances (1.49 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and eight saves over 36.1 innings). Unfortunately, his season ended in early August due to a back injury (disk) that required surgery.

Over his three seasons with the Red Sox, Houck has a 3.02 ERA with 164 strikeouts over 146 innings. His walk rate (3.2) still needs work. Last year, his strikeout rate (8.4) came in below his previous success (11.3).

Houck has an electric slider (.136 BAA) and a winning four-seam fastball (.234 BAA). Over the past two seasons, he tried to incorporate a split-finger fastball into his repertoire, but he had mixed results (.417 BAA over 12 at-bats in 2022 and .056 BAA over 18 at-bats in 2021). His average fastball (95.4) was the best of his career.

Fantasy Outlook: Boston expects Houck to be ready for spring training. Based on the structure of their starting rotation, he should open up the season as a late-inning reliever in front of Kenley Jansen. Without a chance at saves, Houck is only a live upside arm needing a push to the starting rotation or an injury to Jansen to gain fantasy value. His ADP (351) in the NFBC shows fantasy drafters respect his upside in early January.

RP John Schreiber

Schreiber pitched well over his six seasons in the minors (21-19 with a 2.13 ERA, 315 strikeouts, and 34 saves over 282.2 innings), but he struggled over his first 29 games in the majors (5.97 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 31.2 innings). Last year, Schreiber gained his confidence in the Red Sox bullpen, leading to a breakthrough year.

He started the season with 12 shutout innings in Boston with no walks and 13 strikeouts, earning him two wins, one save, and three holds. Schreiber hit the All-Star break with a 0.60 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, and 37 strikeouts over 30 innings. Batters started to figure him out over his final 33 games (3.60 ERA and .254 BAA), with regression in his command (3.3 walks per nine). 

In the majors, his average fastball (94.6) was well above his previous years (91.9, 89.8, and 92.9). Batters struggled to hit his four-seamer (.176 BAA, sinker – .203 BAA, and slider – .160 BAA) while offering a show-me changeup (.313 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Schreiber has an improving arm, helped by his increase in velocity. Boston should use him in the seventh inning this season, and I expect him to build off his experience in the big leagues. Schreiber must improve on his first-pitch strike rate (55) in 2023.


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About Shawn Childs 946 Articles
Shawn Childs has been a high stakes Fantasy baseball and football player since 2004 where he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). In early years of the high stakes market in Fantasy baseball, he was ahead of the curve in player evaluation, draft value, and free agent bidding setting up four top-five finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has four AL-only Auction titles, one NL-only title, and five Main Event titles plus an overall title in 2012 at RTFBC (netted $10,000). This success led to an induction into the NFBC Baseball Hall of Fame. His success in the high stakes market led to a career in providing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football content. On the football side, he’s competed and won in all different formats – auctions, draft championship, main events, and high-dollar leagues. He won 2nd place overall in the 2014 Most Accurate Salary Cap Expert contest at FantasyPros. As a dual-sport player, it was natural to transition to the daily games where he is a “swing for the fences type of guy.” Childs has appeared in one FanDuel NFL Live Final and one DraftKings NFL Live Final, a season-ending tournament which led to a couple of chances to win over $1,000,000.