2018 Red Sox Preview: Plenty of Stars, but Role Players Could Be Difference

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:49 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 12:49 PM UTC

Our MLB handicapper Mark Lathrop checks in with the Boston Red Sox as they start their 2018 season campaign. Read on as he discusses the importance of some fringe contributors on the futures market.

We will be breaking down each division team by team as we approach the 2018 MLB season to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today we will take a look at the Boston Red Sox out of the AL East. The Red Sox squeaked 'Over' their 92.5-win MLB betting total with a 93-win season in 2017 that took the division.

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.@RickPorcello doesn't hesitate when it comes to the pressures of pitching in Boston. pic.twitter.com/cTNxGbnVLt

— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 15, 2018
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Pitching Staff

The Red Sox rotation is a three-headed monster that will be a force in October series should they stay healthy throughout the season. They are of course led by Chris Sale, who after coming over from the White Sox put up a monster 7.7 WAR campaign in 2017. It was Sale’s 4th season in a row putting up 5 WAR or more, so there is a bit of a trend forming. That is in jest, of course, as Sale shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Following Sale is Price (pun intended), with David expected to have a big bounce-back season after dealing with injuries in 2017. Sale’s results over 74.2 IP last year were in correlation with his prior year’s great results, so not much shows that he will have a significant drop-off if healthy. Rick Porcello hopes to gain his 2016 form where he put up 5.1 WAR and a 22-4 record in winning the Cy Young, but public perception is that he will be no better than No. 3 starter territory.

Lineup

With the exception of Christian Vazquez at catcher, the Red Sox project to have above-average hitters at every position, according to the wRC+ statistic. They are especially strong in the outfield with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, yet not very deep on the depth chart with journeyman Bryce Brentz currently looking at the 4th outfield spot after never putting up a positive WAR season in MLB at age 29. This presents a bit of an injury risk for the Red Sox in their lineup and with their defensive strengths in the outfield.

Wild Cards and Betting Trends

If Porcello can return to his 2016 form … watch out! This Red Sox team could put up a huge win total in the 2018 season. That is a big “if”, however, and Porcello’s 2016 season is looking more like an anomaly as more time passes. He’ll be a pitcher worth monitoring in spring training should one be inclined to bet on the Red Sox in a futures market. The other wild card for the Red Sox is Bentz, who hit 31 dingers in Triple-A in 2017. If he is truly a late bloomer, Bentz will be a source of cheap power for the 2018 season and beyond, not to mention fill in a DH gap that could be filled in by free-agent JD Martinez. Boston is given a wins total of 91.5 at BetOnline with both options priced at -110. Signing Martinez would change that total.

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