Boston Red Sox Fantasy Report
After scuffling in Houston and dropping the first game of a three-game set in Tampa, Boston has dropped to 50-35 and has fallen a game and a half behind the upstart Rays in the AL East race. Luckily, the Sox get two more cracks at the Rays before heading off to Yankee Stadium for a four-game series.
The offense continues to flourish for Boston, with the team ranking first in the AL in BA (.280), OBP (.354) and OPS (805). However, the pitching remains middling, with the BoSox currently sitting in sixth place in team ERA, WHIP (1.34) and quality starts (45).
J.D. Drew finished off a dream June with another home run Monday – his 12th of the month and 16th of the year. To put that in perspective, he launched more dingers last month than he did during his entire first season in Boston. Having said that, he’s not exactly scorching like he did at the beginning of the month. In fact, Drew was mired in an 0-for-14 funk before smacking a dinger in the first game of the Houston series and he hasn’t had more than one hit in a game since June 18. But oh baby, does he ever love interleague play. He’s hit 27 home runs as a Red Sox and nine of those came in the first 30 games against NL opponents. Finally, Drew’s major resurgence this year has included smacking the big bombs – the three-run dinger he launched against Houston was his fourth long ball this year of either the three- or four-run variety – tops on the club.
Speaking of the Houston series, a few Red Sox alumni showed up at the ballpark, including Pat Rapp, there to watch BP with some kids; Tim Naehring was there, scouting the game for the Yanks, and was later joined for dinner by Kevin Jarvis, another former BoSox, albeit very briefly.
The Red Sox have been busy signing some of their minor league draft choices recently. Former Rice star RHP Bryan Price, the 45th overall selection in the draft, was penned last week. He’s been assigned to the Lowell Spinners of the NYPL. The 21-year-old doesn’t have too much wear and tear on his arm, a rarity among college hurlers. Price was plucked with the compensation pick the Sox received when free agent Eric Gagne signed with the Brewers.
The Sox pen had been on a roll lately, but David Aardsma has been taking a beating. After cruising along with seven straight scoreless outings, Aardsma has been touched up for at least one run in each of his past two appearances, sending his ERA up almost half a run and close to the 3.00 mark. Notwithstanding this recent hiccup, Aardsma is enjoying a breakout year, averaging over a K per inning and keeping the ball in the park. He’s carved out a nice place for himself as a set-up man in the Boston bullpen, and is definitely someone worth watching in deeper AL-only leagues.
Boston also signed RHP Pete Ruiz, the club’s tenth rounder. He’s a large (6’3”, 205) 20-year-old who features a smooth delivery. His fastball has late life to it and he mixes in a 12-to-6 curveball.
Finally, the Sox signed their 41st round pick, Dustin Mercadante, a 19-year-old righty who throws an 86 to 88 mph fastball with good sink. He’s off to an excellent start with the GCL Red Sox, recording a 1.93 ERA through his first three appearances.
Jon Lester was slapped around badly in his last start in Houston, but he’d been on a serious roll. Prior to that start, Lester had gone 3-0, 1.62 over his previous four appearances, walking just three in 27 2/3 IP without a dinger allowed. Boston had gone 11-6 through Lester’s first 17 starts. While his last start has scared off some owners, Lester has matured greatly this season, so if he’s on your waiver wire, I’d definitely look into adding him.
Although he’s cooled in the past week, Julio Lugo has gained waiver wire momentum based on a June that was his finest month of the season (one homers, five RBI, five steals, .274 BA). He’s still striking out more than I’d like, has already set a career high by grounding into 11 double plays, and is just three errors shy of matching his entire total from 2007. After approaching his career high in ribbies in 2007, Lugo’s RBI production has plummeted this year thanks to a .229 BA with runners on and a butt-ugly .154 mark when runners are in scoring position. Having said that, after the win in Game One in Houston, the Sox were 44-25 when Lugo manned short and 6-7 when anyone else was there. That’s got to count for something, so consider Lugo if you need middle infield help. He’s trending in the right direction.
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s fine season continued with five shutout innings Friday for his ninth win of the season. While his injury last month has limited his overall innings count and his K rate has slipped, Dice-K has done a much better job of limiting the gopher ball and avoiding the big inning that plagued him so in his first North American campaign.
If Boston can get back to the Series, the pitching staff better take some serious BP. So far, Sox hurlers are proving to be automatic outs, going 0-for-25 with 18 strikeouts this season.
The Sox bullpen had been rolling with 12 straight shutout innings until Hideki Okajimi served up a dinger in the eighth inning Friday. The Japanese southpaw righted the ship somewhat Sunday, tossing two-thirds of a shutout frame, but June was definitely a month worth forgetting about for him. In 9 1/3 IP, he was torched for 19 hits and five walks, recording a 9.64 ERA. During the first two months of the season, Okajima was virtually flawless, so don’t give up on him. But for now, he needs to be benched until he gets on another roll.
By the way, it was remiss of me not to aknowledge the second anniversary of RotoRob, which happened on Saturday. Thanks to all our readers and our great staff of writers for making us such a success!