2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox to target and avoid this draft season.

The Red Sox are coming off back-to-back 78-win seasons and last-place finishes in the stacked AL East, but the team doesn’t seem complacent in living in the basement of the division. The disappointing results forced former President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom out of town with Craig Breslow coming in to replace him. The front office shakeup and pressure from fans to get back to contender status likely means it’ll be a busy offseason in Boston.

The Sox may have missed out on the Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto sweepstakes, but there are plenty of ways for the team to continue to upgrade the roster over the winter. We’ve already seen the team clear out some of its excess left-handed bats by shipping out Alex Verdugo to the archrival Yankees and replacing him with the beefy right-handed slugging Tyler O’Neill. The moves surely won’t end there so this roster could feature some other fun sleeper and bust options soon, but as of mid-December, here are your 2024 Boston Red Sox Sleepers and Busts.




Trevor Story


2023 stats (168 PA): .203 AVG, 12 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB

Injuries have plagued the first two years of Story’s Red Sox career. He missed 68 games in 2022 with a litany of hand and heel injuries and 2023 didn’t go any better. Story underwent surgery in January to repair his UCL using an internal brace rather than undergo a traditional Tommy John surgery.

Story eventually returned to the field on August 8th, missing his initial return window by a month, and the results weren’t encouraging. The 30-year-old shortstop slashed just .203/.250/.316 in his 43 games, good for a lowly 48 wRC+. His 32.7% strikeout rate was the worst we’ve seen from him since 2017 and his 5.4% walk rate was a career low.

Now on the wrong side of 30, Story’s ability to bounce back to his All-Star form is up in the air, and where you fall on that question is going to inform your choice on drafting him to your fantasy squads in 2024.

Plenty of Story’s rough numbers can likely be blamed on him simply shaking off the rust. By the time he was back in the batter’s box, it had been nearly a year since he had taken an MLB at bat. PLV data shows how he was getting more comfortable back at the dish as the season wrapped up.

Story only had time to accumulate 168 plate appearances, and I have to wonder if he would’ve had another month of playing time if he would’ve started to turn his stats around. He did manage to end the season on a nice six-game hitting which included a home run and two stolen bases.

Although Story’s always been an injury risk, other players have undergone nearly identical UCL repair surgeries that Story did and returned to the field at or near their previous performance levels. Both Tyler Glasnow and Kenta Maeda had the UCL in their right arms repaired with an internal brace, just like Story did, and both of them had promising 2023 seasons.

We’re only a few seasons removed from Story being a 20/20 hitter, and it’s not too much of a stretch to think he’ll get back there again in 2024. He swiped 10 bags in his limited playing time last year so we know he’s still looking to be aggressive on the basepaths which should help protect against too severe of a downside if his bat doesn’t bounce back the way we hope it does.


Brayan Bello


2023 stats (157 IP): 4.24 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 132 K, 12 W

In his first stint as a full-time starter, Bello rather admirably held his own against the game’s toughest competition. The 24-year-old righty wrapped up his sophomore campaign with an unremarkable 4.24 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, but showed his team that he could be a reliable part of their rotation moving forward and flashed the potential to develop into even more.

It can be disingenuous to pick and choose what appearances to care about, but interestingly for Bello, he had a couple of blow-ups at the beginning and tail ends of his season that largely skew his full-season numbers. If you exclude both his first and last two starts, his numbers significantly improve to a much more enticing 3.39 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. We know every pitcher will have those blow-up games from time to time and they count toward your fantasy team’s stats all the same, but I do think it illustrates Bello’s consistency a bit better to see that 3.39 ERA over 140.2 innings pitched. If you rostered Bello throughout the year, you generally had a good time with him on your roster.

Bello has a five-pitch arsenal, but relies heavily on two of his offerings to carry him through his starts – his sinker and changeup. The sinker is his bread and butter. He tossed it at a 36% clip last season with batters posting a .340 wOBA against the pitch, but it still returned a 4.97 PLV which is in the 76th percentile of MLB sinkers. His changeup made up 24% of his 2023 deliveries and was his go-to whiff pitch when he needed one, especially against lefties. Bello generated a 29.4% CSW% and 38.7% Whiff% with the offspeed pitch, and when batters did make contact, they only hit it to the tune of a .236 wOBA.

After the sinker and changeup, Bello’s arsenal is rather lackluster. His four-seamer and slider make up most of the rest of his offerings but he does have a cutter that he experimented with here and there. None of those three pitches had a PLV better than the 27th percentile. A starter who only has two pitches he can trust can be a scary thing and leaves less margin for error when they don’t have one or both of those pitches working on any given day. For keen-eyed observers, there were some exciting signs of development for Bello’s slider late in the season.

Starting in early August, Bello began tinkering with his slider and significantly changing both the horizontal and vertical break on the pitch. His average horizontal break went from about 3 inches to about 8 inches, and the average vertical break (with gravity) changed from around -45 inches to about -40 inches. Those changes led to a spike in the pitch’s chase rate.

With an offseason of work, I could see that slider further developing into a trustworthy third offering that propels Bello’s fantasy stock. As he enters his second full-time season as a starter in Boston, we could naturally see more growth in his approach as his career progresses. I’m definitely interested in drafting Bello in a handful of leagues entering 2024.




Kenley Jansen


2023 stats (44.2 IP): 3.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 52 K, 29 SV

It feels like we’re in the fourth or fifth straight season of expecting a Jansen implosion, and the signs are only getting more worrisome. Jansen will be 36 years old in 2024 and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his storied career. His 3.63 ERA was the second-highest mark we’ve ever seen from him, and his 1.28 WHIP was by far the worst mark he’s posted. He still managed to collect 29 saves during his first year in Boston, but that was largely on the back of him being entrenched in the closer role, not him dominating hitters.

Jansen struck out batters at the lowest rate of his career last year: 27.7%. That’s backed up by his also-career-low 28.4% CSW%. More balls in play in late-game high-leverage scenarios can make things go south quickly, especially playing in Boston. Fenway Park has the second-highest offense-boosting Park Factor among all parks over the last three years, and to make matters worse, the Red Sox finished 30th in Outs Above Average and 24th in Defensive Runs Saved last year. Not exactly what I’d call ideal pitching conditions. Boston’s front office has a chance to make an impact addition to bolster the team’s fielding ability, but so far they haven’t.

Undoubtedly, Jansen lives and dies by his cutter. He tossed it 77% of the time last year, and even in his mid-30s he actually raised it’s average velocity to 94.3 mph, the fastest it’s been since 2014. Velocity isn’t everything though, and the pitch didn’t necessarily improve across the board. Opposing hitters posted a .239 batting average and .294 wOBA against the cutter, two of the worst marks we’ve see from the pitch.

Jansen is squarely in the “name value being higher than his actual production value” category at this point of his career. It feels like the best-case scenario is that he once again gets you around 30 saves with middling ratios, while a worst-case scenario is using a mid-round pick on someone who kills your ratios and loses his closing job halfway through the season. With Jansen in the final year of his contract, his leash will be shorter, especially given the immense amount of pressure for the Red Sox to bounce back from two straight down seasons.


Nick Pivetta


2023 stats (142.2 IP): 4.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 183 K, 10 W

Pivetta is certainly a lower-risk bust than Jansen is, but I imagine plenty of fantasy managers will target him in the final rounds of their drafts as a steady contributor, and he’s not one I trust even coming off the best season of his career.

Those managers who stayed tuned in down the final stretch of the season will likely remember Pivetta’s impressive finish to the season with multiple double-digit strikeout games in September. That hot stretch dated back to the beginning of July when he started tossing a sweeper that he calls a “whirlybird.” The pitch took his entire arsenal up a notch. His chase rate shot up quite a bit, and he finished the season with a 3.27 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 35.8% strikeout rate over 82.2 innings after debuting the pitch on July 2nd.

All of that sure makes Pivetta sound like a sleeper, not a bust, right? Well, are you convinced that he’ll be able to keep that up? I’m surely not. His strong finish was aided by a .263 BABIP and 79.9% LOB%, both of which were significantly better than his career numbers. We’ve seen countless flashes of brilliance from Pivetta throughout his seven-year career only to have him not be able to sustain that newfound success. I’m putting a whole lot more faith in the six-and-a-half-year sample size of mediocrity than I am in the three months of him looking like a brand-new pitcher.

On top of the general mistrust I have in his track record, I have very little faith that the Red Sox will give him a secured spot in the rotation. Even during his best season ever, Pivetta only started 16 of his 38 games. The Red Sox regularly turned to him as the bulk guy out of the ‘pen or to fill in a late-inning role as needed. After the best outing of his career — a 6 IP, 13K, 0H, 2BB masterpiece on July 17th in Oakland — the Red Sox repaid him by not letting him keep his bulk role, not inserting him into the starting rotation, but using him five days later for one inning. WHAT? What kind of usage is that? Even if Pivetta can replicate that second-half surge, if his usage is unpredictable, it’s nearly impossible to use him effectively in your fantasy lineups outside of daily move and best ball leagues.

It’s almost a guarantee that at some point in 2024 Pivetta is going to be a fantasy darling for a month or two. That’s the Pivetta experience. It just seems nearly impossible to know when it’ll happen or how long it’ll last. He’s someone I’d keep on my streaming radar throughout 2024, but in draft season, there are plenty of other names I’d rather take a chance on.


Photos by John Cordes, William Purnell | Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from every fantasy league format you can imagine to the unending greatness of Mike Trout. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

One response to “2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Boston Red Sox”

  1. Cory says:

    So you’re trusting the 6 1/2 years before he debuted his new pitch, instead of the data with the new pitch? I’m not a Pivetta apologist by any means, and I own him in exactly zero leagues. But…it seems a bit ridiculous to assume that he’ll just be the same ol’ Pivetta even with the new pitch that admittedly produced great metrics. Is he a sub-3.00 ERA guy? No. Is he a sub-3.30 ERA guy? Probably not, and the course-correction on LOB and BABIP will see to that. But is it very possible that he’s going to be a sub-4.00 ERA with a WHIP around 1.20? Absolutely. I also think it’s weak sauce and low-hanging fruit to take a guy with a terrible track record who will only be getting drafted late in any draft he’s taken in…and then pick him as your bust. Seriously? I expect better and bigger balls from PitcherList.

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