After breaking down the Boston Red Sox lineup, let’s move on to their pitching staff. All 5 starters are back from their 2013 World Series team. In addition, they signed Edward Mujica in the offseason to help strengthen their bullpen.
Here is a link to my breakdown of the Red Sox starting pitchers and relievers. I will continue to update all of my player profiles over the next few months to reflect anything that may impact their fantasy baseball value. To see a preview of my analysis, here is my write up on Jon Lester and Koji Uehara:
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.
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.
Like what you see? Read my full breakdown of their pitching staff here!