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3 Red Sox

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CONTENDERS

SCOUT'S TAKE

KEY QUESTION

Can they figure out the answer to the eighth and ninth? Craig Kimbrel is a huge loss, but Joe Kelly put up a lot of important innings for this club and he's gone too. Matt Barnes and Ryan Braiser throw hard, have good off-speed pitches, but neither has the lights-out stuff that made the bullpen so good last year.

GETS MOST OUT OF TALENT

It all looks so easy for J.D. Martinez, but the guy puts in so many hours in the video room. That's why his approaching is outstanding. You better get the pitch where you want it, because if you don't, he's gonna hurt you. His swing plays perfectly in that park.

UNDERRATED

People look at Brock Holt and say: utility guy. He's better than that. He played everything but center and catcher last year, but he'd be a starting second baseman for most clubs.

LAST LICKS

Their outfield works so hard at their craft. They've got the whole field covered, especially in Fenway ... Alex Cora was not a great player himself, but he knows how to handle role players like he was and also the stars. What was so impressive in his first season was that he never seemed to be frantic.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

LAST YEAR Xander Bogaerts broke out by slashing .288/.360/.522. This year look 40 feet to Bogaerts's right for the next young Red Sox star. Rafael Devers was disappointing in 2018, with a .298 on-base percentage and playing poor defense at third. Eduardo Núñez, no glove man himself, ate into Devers's playing time in the second half. Still, Devers is just 22 years old, younger than almost every player who got Rookie of the Year votes in the AL last season. When he hit the ball in the air, he hit it hard: His average exit velocity of 95.4 mph on line drives and fly balls, is in the top 50 among all major league hitters. His strikeout rate of 24.7% is just above average in today's game, and his walk rate of 7.8% was good for a 21-year-old. Devers will take a big step forward in '19 and be a crucial reason why the Red Sox return to the postseason.

OVER UNDER

93.5

Don't expect 108 wins again, not with a bullpen that has big holes to fill. But the defending champs are so deep in the lineup and the rotation, 95 is well within reach.

LINEUP

LF Andrew Benintendi

.290/16 HR/21 SB

RF Mookie Betts

.346/32 HR/30 SB

DH J.D. Martinez

.330/43 HR/.629 SLG

SS Xander Bogaerts

.288/23 HR/.522 SLG

1B Mitch Moreland

.245/15 HR/68 RBI

2B Dustin Pedroia

.293/7 HR/.392 slg*

3B Rafael Devers

.240/21 HR/.433 SLG

C Christian Vázquez

.207/3 HR/.283 SLG

CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

.234/13 HR/17 SB

BENCH

1B/OF Steve Pearce

.284/11 HR/.512 SLG

IF Eduardo Núñez

.265/10 HR/7 SB

*Stats from 2017

FANTASY BREAKOUT

Solid last year as Craig Kimbrel's setup man, MATT BARNES is a top 10 closer if he locks down ninth-inning duties.

ROTATION

LH Chris Sale

12 W/2.11 ERA/0.86 WHP

LH David Price

16 W/3.58 ERA/1.14 WHP

RH Rick Porcello

17 W/4.28 ERA/1.18 WHP

LH Eduardo Rodríguez

13 W/3.82 ERA/10.1 K9

BULLPEN

RH Matt Barnes

3.65 ERA/1.27 WHP/14.0 K9

RH Hector Velázquez

3.18 ERA/1.45 WHIP/5.6 K9

RH Heath Hembree

4.20 ERA/1.33 WHP/11.4 K9

MANAGER

Alex Cora