2018 Red Sox Preview and Predictions

    Buckle up because we've got our 2018 Red Sox preview with predictions for you. Our Red Sox coverage staff makes their bold predictions.

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    Jess Thomas

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5 – Over. I think this team is better than last year’s team with the addition of J.D. Martinez, the reacquisition of Eduardo Nunez and presumably a healthy David Price and Carson Smith. I see them winning 96 games.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5. – Under. I see Martinez having a successful year, finishing with 33 home runs. I expect that next year he will be over 40, but in his transition year to a new city, I think 33 would be a very solid year.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20 – Under. As most know, I am a big Porcello fan, and I believe he will bounce back from a tough season last year. I don’t think he will be quite as good as 2016, but his ERA should be 3.70.

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5 – Under. I think the focus for the killer B’s will be power and run producing. They will get their steals, but I see them combining for 42.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5 – Under. I assume they will have to use a few extra pitchers with uncertainty with Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, but I don’t see them using more than 8.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75 – Over. Honestly, I could see the ERA being right around this mark. I anticipate they will finish the year with 3.80, which would be good. Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith will have good seasons and the ERA will be kept down.

    X-Factor: Drew Pomeranz. I’m riding that Pomeranz train once again. You expect the team will get top notch contributions from Chris Sale and David Price, and if Porcello puts it back together as I expect he will (look up), then Pomeranz will be the wild card that could make this rotation really good. If he even wins 13 games (4 less than last year), then this could be the best team in the league. It is crucial for him to stay healthy and pitch similar to how he did last year.

    Most improved player: Xander Bogaerts. He was hampered by a hand injury after getting hit by a pitch last year and his numbers showed his lack of health. The X-man only hit .273 with 10 homers and 62 RBI. I expect his power will increase and he will be in a good place to drive in runs hitting behind Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez. Expect him to be the most improved player this year.

    Team prediction: I expect the Sox to win the AL East with 96 wins. I think Houston still has more overall firepower than Boston, but it is very hard to repeat as champions, so I think the Sox will knock off the Astros in the ALCS after the Yankees lose in the first round. Boston will play the Cubs in the World Series and Alex Cora pulls off the same feat as John Farrell, winning the World Series in his first season at the helm.

    3 bold predictions:

    1.) Rafael Devers only hits 14 home runs. The reason I say this is that he came in so hot last year in just a couple of months that I think he will regress a bit and have trouble acclimating to a full MLB season. I don’t expect him to be bad, but I think his power numbers will be lower than most people are anticipating.

    2.) Matt Barnes is going to win 8 games out of the bullpen and have an ERA under 2.00. I think with a reduced late game role with Kimbrel, Smith and hopefully Thornburg, Barnes will benefit and really lock into the first or two second guy out of the pen to save a bad start by a starter. As a result, he will win a bunch of games and not give up many runs, hence the low ERA.

    3.) Brian Johnson will win 12 games and start 18 games. With talks that Johnson is already preparing to start the fifth game of the season, I think Steven Wright will struggle and Eduardo Rodriguez is always questionable health-wise, and that will open the door for Johnson to become a consistent starter and I think he makes the very most of it.

     

    Alex Barth

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5                     Over (95)

    -The Red Sox won 93 games last season. They didn’t have many major losses this offseason, and gained JD Martinez and Alex Cora as a manager. How many games are those 2 worth? I’ll say one each.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5    Under (31)

    -This is less about his ability and more his ability to stay healthy. I’m counting on Martinez for only 100-120 games this season. I’ll throw in an early bold prediction and say he doesn’t lead the team in home runs either. I’m looking to Rafael Devers for that.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20        Over (4.25)

    -Outside of his Cy Young year, Rick Porcello’s ERAs as a member of the Red Sox have been 4.92 and 4.65. I think he can be better than that in 2018, but we clearly know what’s the norm and what’s the exception now.

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5  Under (42)

    They stole 46 combined bags last year. In 2018, I expect the Red Sox to be more cautious on the base paths and to the hitters take care of business, so naturally this number will come down.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5      Over (11)

    -With at least 3 arms who will start a game at some point in 2018 starting on the DL or otherwise ineligible, I feel like we could see a lot of starters early for the Red Sox.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75                 Way Under (3.10)

    -The Red Sox had a bullpen ERA of 3.15 last year, and they’ve only gotten better this winter. Pound the under.

    X-Factor: Whatever starting pitcher they sign in May/June, a la Doug Fister

    Although Fister wasn’t their best pitcher last year, I’m not sure the Sox win the division without signing him. Fast forward to 2018, and the Red Sox once again have a rotation full of question marks and injury concerns. A veteran arm would help solidify things, take pressure of the younger guys like Johnson and Velazquez, and give them more of an opportunity to give guys like Sale and Price the extra rest they need to keep them ready for the playoffs.

    Most improved player: Mitch Moreland

    Last year, Moreland hit 4th or 5th in 94 of his 128 starts. Between those two spots, he hit a lowly .231. However, he succeeded the few times he was moved down to 7th, hitting .316/.381/.561. With two more power bats in JD Martinez and Rafael Devers now in the lineup ahead of him for a full season, look for Moreland to thrive in the bottom third of the order like he did in limited reps in 2017.

    Team prediction: 93-95 wins, lose either Wild Card game or in 4 games in 1st round in playoffs

    3 bold predictions:

    1.) The Red Sox will win the head-to-head season series with the Yankees, but the Yankees will win the division

    2.) After being the only team without a grand slam in 2017, the Red Sox will be top 5 in grand slams in 2018

    3.) David Price will win back Red Sox fans hearts….as Craig Kimbrel’s setup man

     

    Mike Petraglia – Trags

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5.  OVER (98)  J.D. Martinez will be a doubles machine in middle of order, boosting run production.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5 Under. (32) Monster will gobble up line drives off the wall but still productive.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20.  Under (4.05). He will have a short leash and Alex Cora will manage him differently, using middle relievers more around him.

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5 OVER (55) Cora will try to be aggressive with them, especially on steals of third.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5. Under (9) Sale, Price and Porcello are the key to this and their arms will hold up for at least one more year.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75 (Under) 3.40 Pen depth figures to be one of the strengths of the team and with a full season of Carson Smith, should be better. How Kimbrel comes back from personal leave is key. Kelly and Barnes have looked very strong in spring, sporting double-digit strikeout totals.

    X-Factor: Jackie Bradley Jr. at bottom of the order. If he provides consistent production at bottom of order, the Red Sox could approach 900 runs.

    Most improved player: Matt Barnes. He had moments of inconsistently under John Farrell. But this spring, looks like someone recommitted to his bullpen role. Will be a key part of pen.

    Team prediction: Red Sox lose in 6 to the Indians in ALCS.

    3 bold predictions:

    1.) Mookie Betts hits 30 home runs

    2.) David Price wins AL Cy Young with 25 wins sub 3.00 ERA

    3.) Joe Kelly finishes with double-digit saves

     

    Michael Settipani

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5

    Under (92). I think the starting rotation will struggle outside of Chris Sale and David Price. I also have 0 faith in the bullpen besides Craig Kimbrel. The offense will score but will not be enough to surpass last years win total.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5

    Way under (20) I think last year was a fluke. He hit 31 homers after the all-star break. I do not see that happening again. Also think the Boston pressure will get to him a bit causing a dip in performance.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20

    Over (4.50). Last year was the real Rick Porcello. I think that is just what he is. His career ERA is 4.25 which is higher than the ERA listed here. Hammer the over!

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5

    Over (55). I think Cora will let Mookie and Benny run wild while on the base paths. The aggressive approach will also help both players get on base a lot.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5

    Over (10). Injuries happen as due weather/make up games. It is a long season and expecting everyone to stay relatively healthy is not happening.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75

    The bullpen worries me, but I will say under (3.65). The Red Sox have starters who can go deep into games, which will help the bullpen be rested. I think they take a step back from last season’s terrific ERA but will still be solid.

    X-Factor:

    My X-Factor is Drew Pomeranz. The Red Sox won 93 games last year with most players having a down year and no cleanup hitter. The reason for that was the starting pitching.

    Pomeranz started 32 games going 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He looks like he will miss a start or two to begin the season, but if the Red Sox can rely on Pomeranz to be as consistent as last year, the division will be up for grabs. If Pomeranz regresses or gets injured, I do not believe the starting pitching depth is good enough to make up for it.

    Most improved player:

    This may surprise some, but I will say Andrew Benintendi.

    As good as his rookie year was, I think he can be even better this season. I think he will show more consistency at the plate hitting well over .300. I also think he can be close to 30 homers, 100 RBI’s, and 30 stolen bases.

    After a strong rookie campaign, the 23-year-old will break out as one of the best players in baseball.

    Team prediction:

    The Red Sox will make the playoffs. They will win the wild card play in game and then lose to whoever finishes with the best record between the Indians, Astros, or Yankees.

    I will not believe in this team until they prove they can do it on the field. They are 1-6 in their last seven playoff games. They still do not have a starting pitcher that has a win in the playoffs.

    I also just think the other three teams are better top to bottom. Until I see it, I do not believe this team has the make up to do damage in the postseason.

    3 bold predictions:

    1.) Blake Swihart hits 25 homeruns and takes over an outfield position from JBJ.

    2.) The Red Sox trade Dustin Pedroia letting Nunez become the everyday second basemen

    3.) Eduardo Rodriguez pitches the whole season and wins 20 games.

     

    Lars Gjesteby

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5. Over – 95. I see this team getting to 95 wins with a little more power than last year and a consistent pitching staff.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5. Under – 33. I expect J.D. to be an offensive force for this team, but the Green Monster might take a few homers away and instead make him a doubles machine.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20. Under – 3.80. I don’t think we’ll see the Cy Young Porcello from 2016, but I think it will be a big improvement from the major disappointment of 2017 Porcello.

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5. Over – 55. Both guys have a legitimate chance at 30 HR-30 steal seasons.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5. Over – 10. Brian Johnson was named to the starting rotation to at least begin the year, which adds to the expected rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Those last two guys are still rehabbing, so we could see Hector Velazquez make a spot start. Steven Wright is also in the mix, though he will be suspended for the first 15 games once he is added to the active roster. That is already eight guys, and I think it’s likely that another Triple-A starter could be called on in a pinch (i.e Roenis Elias). Depending on how the back of the rotation holds up, we could also see a trade deadline acquisition for another pitcher, which would make 10 unique starters.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75. Under – 3.30. The Red Sox posted the second best bullpen ERA in the majors last year at 3.15, mainly because Craig Kimbrel was pitching out of this world. It may be too much to expect that same performance this season, but adding in Carson Smith should keep Boston’s bullpen as one of the best.

    X-Factor:

    Rafael Devers – 2018 will be Devers’ first full year at the major league level, and it’s a big test for the 21 year-old. Can he bring a consistent bat to the lineup along with solid defense at third base to avoid a platoon at the position? I think his ability to do so will be a critical factor to Boston’s success. For the last two months of 2017, we saw the game-changing power of Raffy Big Stick, and the Red Sox will need more of that all season.

    Most improved player:

    Xander Bogaerts – After sniffing 200 hits and driving in over 80 runs in both 2015 and 2016, Bogaerts struggled to find consistency in 2017, hitting .273 with 62 RBI. The shortstop has looked strong so far in Spring Training, and I expect that he will rebound with a much better season in 2018. Look for Bogey to hit over .300 and touch 20 homers once again.

    Team prediction: 

    For the first time since ’04, we get a classic Red Sox-Yankees ALCS battle, but New York’s home run derby lineup proves to be too much in game 7.

    3 bold predictions:

    1.) Andrew Benintendi hits more homers than J.D. Martinez this year. Benny Biceps showed up to Spring Training looking stronger than ever, and has been crushing the ball so far. I think we should expect an uptick in power from him, while Martinez might be more of a doubles machine off the Green Monster.

    2.) David Price has a better season than Chris Sale. This would be huge for the Red Sox. We pretty much know what to expect from Sale, but what if Price matched him start for start and even put up slightly better numbers? That would be the scariest 1-2 starting pitcher combo in baseball.

    3.) Blake Swihart becomes the predominant super utility guy in place of Brock Holt. In addition to catching, Swihart has the ability to play the corner infield positions and some left field. A stellar Spring Training should make him a lock for the Red Sox roster, and he can essentially fill Holt’s role while being four years younger.

     

    Logan Jakubajtys

    Over/Under

    Team wins: 93.5 OVER 95

    I think this team will find a way to win the AL East, and they’ll need 95 wins to do so. They will count heavily on David Price and Chris Sale to be one the best pitching tandems in baseball, and a healthy Hanley Ramirez will help the offensive in front of J.D. Martinez.

    J.D. Martinez homers: 35.5 UNDER 34

    In his first year in Fenway Park, I don’t think Martinez will have all of the kinks of the Green Monster figured out. Most of his homers will go opposite direction and most will come away from Boston.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20 UNDER 4.10

    This is all about redemption for Porcello in 2018. He needs to be a much better pitcher than he was in ’17, and he’s proven that he can be that. He will be a gem in the middle of the rotation.

    Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi stolen bases: 50.5 UNDER 45

    This one was tough. I believe the Red Sox will be an aggressive base running team, and they will likely be smarter this season. But I don’t see either player even reaching 25 bags on their own.

    Starting pitchers used: 9.5 UNDER 9

    This is a pure guess as you never know how injuries will go, but the nine I have are Sale, Price, Porcello, Rodriguez, Pomeranz, Johnson, Velazquez, Wright, and Elias.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75 UNDER 3.62

    X-Factor: Xander Bogaerts

    Bogey seems to be the forgotten man in Boston. I think he will surprise some people with a more aggressive approach at the plate and a rise in his numbers. At the back end of the lineup he will provide some decent offense.

    Most improved player: Rafael Devers

    Devers is so young, and there’s tons of room for improvement. He should be a much better defensive player in 2018.

    Team prediction:

    1st in AL East, Lose in ALCS in 7 Games

    This team has what it takes to make a deep  postseason run, but they may fall just short with the caliber of competition in the AL. It wouldn’t surprise me if they made it to and won the World Series though either.

     3 bold predictions:

    Mookie Betts wins AL MVP. He says 2016 was an anomaly and will likely be the best season of his career, but if others pick up the offense he can produce those numbers once again. The defense is obviously there, so he should be in the MVP conversation once again.

    David Price wins AL Cy Young. Price lives to prove people wrong, and that’s what he can do this season. David has a chance to silence all of his Boston haters as the #2 man on the team

    Star third baseman added at trade deadline. While I expect Devers to improve this season, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team brings in a rental, star third baseman for the second half of the season and the playoffs to platoon.

     

    Nick Quaglia

    Team Wins 93.5: OVER

    I’m rocking with a solid 96 game win total this year with the team finishing in second place behind the Yankees. This Red Sox team is very talented, but I just don’t know if their offensive fire power can match New York’s.

    J.D. Martinez Homers 35.5: UNDER

    You see, this is a tough one because I think that he is going to be so in love with the Green Monster out in left field that he may propose to it. He generates enough power where a pop fly off of his bat could get on top of the wall. BUT he’s only his over 35.5 homers twice in his career and I don’t think we’ll see the same numbers out of him that we saw last season.

    Rick Porcello ERA: 4.20: UNDER

    Porcello will land in the high threes by the end of the season. We know what he’s capable of after his 2016 campaign but do I think that he‘ll ever be that lights out again? Absolutely not. High threes is his sweet spot.

    Mookie Betts & Andrew Benintendi Stolen Bases: 50.5: OVER

    I think that the new manager in town is going to have a LOT to do with this answer. While the team will be much less aggressive on the base paths while the ball is live, I see them using their speed in much more appropriate situations such as late inning base stealing. Both of these guys are capable of touching 25 stolen bags on the year.

    Starting Pitchers Used: 9.5: UNDER

    Sale, Price, E-Rod, Porcello, Pomeranz, Wright, Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez and a vet that Dombrowski overpays for at the deadline. That’s what we’ll see and to be honest, I see a lot of stability in that rotation believe it or not.

    Bullpen ERA: 3.75: UNDER

    3.75 is an excellent ERA for a bullpen and I think the Red Sox bullpen might be the most underrated part of this team. This team is adding two very solid 8th inning arms to their late inning depth which is going to make it very hard to actually want to run a starting pitcher out of the game if you’re the opposing team.

    X-Factor: Blake Swihart

    It became evident today that the Red Sox are impressed with the utility player’s offensive prowess throughout this spring training due to the fact that they traded away Deven Marrero. He provides the team with somebody who isn’t just a typical scrub coming off of the bench when needed because he shows the signs of being a dangerous man at the plate.

    Most Improved Player:

    If we’re talking about just compared to last season, then I’m saying Brock Holt. Holt is back off of a severe concussion and struggled mightily at the plate all year. We’ve seen what this vet can do so I think that low .200 batting average is going to elevate past the .270 mark which is plenty for a guy in his role.

    Team Prediction:

    This team will be going to the ALCS against, wait for it, the New York Yankees. BUT, they’ll lose right there in heartbreaking fashion. Both teams are very talented and as great as Houston is, I just don’t see them back in the ALCS or the World Series. The rivalry is back on and both teams are very good… The story already seems to be written.

    3 Bold Predictions:

    1. Jackie Bradley will be benched for a significant amount of time due to his dull bat and J.D. Martinez’s desire to play the outfield. JBJ’s bat just isn’t worth the headache while he swings at one-thousand changeups in the dirt.
    2. I don’t know if this is what we’re looking for here, but we’re going to see a Yankees-Red Sox bench clearer this season and I’m going to lose my mind. CC Sabathia is going to cry when players bunt on him again, fire in a heater on someone and benches are going to clear.
    3. Rafael Devers finishes in the top-2 for the MVP race this year. This kid has the ability to get the barrel of the bat on any ball that is thrown to him. We saw him take Chapman out of Yankee Stadium just last season while most vets would have peed themselves if they were in that situation. The “M-V-P” chants will rain at Fenway while he’s at the plate this year… Just you wait.

     

    Lauren Campbell

    Team wins 93.5: over – 97. With a new manager and JD Martinez, this team is destined for more wins than the last two seasons.

    JD Martinez homers 35.5 – over – 40. Maybe I have too much faith in him but I think he knows what’s expected of him and I think he will have a solid first year in Boston.

    Rick Porcello ERA 4.20 – under. I’m going to say around 3.80 for the season. He’ll have a bounce back year and get the run support he so desperately needed last year.

    Stolen bases 50.5 – over. 60. I think they’ll have 30 each. The team started getting aggressive on the base path late last season and with their speed, they will easily get 60.

    Starting pitchers 9.5 – under. I think it will be around 7. They have a lot of solid pitchers but if they can stay healthy, seven is a good number.

    Bullpen ERA 3.75- under. I have a lot of faith in Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith. They’ll carry this bullpen through the season and keep that ERA low.

    X-factor: Alex Cora. A new manager in Boston comes with a lot of pressure. But Cora can definitely handle it and he knows this team and is personable with his players. How he manages this team will say a lot about the future of this club for the next few seasons.

    Most improved player: David Price – he’ll put last year behind him and be the pitcher Red Sox nation knows he’s capable of being.

    Team prediction: AL East champs for the third year in a row. I want to say they’ll be the World Series champs but I think they’ll ultimately lose to the Astros.

    3 bold predictions:

    1. Blake Swihart will be an all star. One of these years I’ll get it right. He’s having himself a hell of a spring and he will prove he’s an all star-caliber player.
    2. Brian Johnson will be your fourth starter. Like Swihart, he’s having a great spring and finally coming into his own. He’s earned a spot in this rotation and will only build off that.
    3. Jackie Bradley Jr. will get traded. This is something else I’ve been saying the past few years – but with the addition of Martinez I think this is the year he will get shipped up.

    Alex Barth & Nick Quaglia react to the CLNS Media Red Sox Staff predictions for the 2018 season. You can find the whole CLNS Red Sox 2018 Red Sox Season Preview here: For more Red Sox coverage, follow @RedSoxCLNS on Twitter. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SUPPORT CLNS MEDIA'S PROGRAMMING: Powered by... HIMS for Men's Health: http://forhims.com/report, promo code: REPORT for discount on first purchase. eHarmony, go to http://eHarmony.com and use the promo code: GARDENREPORT for one FREE month. Find your life-partner w/ eHarmony for FREE in the first 30 days or cancel. Simple Contacts, go to http://SimpleContacts.com/CLNS and use the promo code: CLNS for $30 off your first order of prescription contacts. It couldn't get much easier than that! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Visit the home of CLNS Media by going to https://www.clnsmedia.com Follow CLNS Media on Twitter - http://twitter.com/CLNSMedia Follow CLNS Media on Facebook - http://facebook.com/clnsmedia Follow CLNS Media on INSTA - http://Instagram.com/clnsmedia Download the FREE CLNS Media mobile app for iOS & GooglePlay