2024 MLB Team Betting Preview: Boston Red Sox Futures

BetQL identifies and explores the projected starting rotation, bullpen, lineup, bench, prospects and best bets for the upcoming Boston Red Sox season

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After finishing 2023 with a 78-84 record, manager Alex Cora will look to lead the 2024 Boston Red Sox back to the playoffs for the first time since 2021. Overall, this club has failed to make the playoffs in four of the last five seasons since their 2018 World Series victory, so the Fenway Faithful are hungry for a contending product on the field. Unfortunately for them, the team elected to be very quiet in free agency and will enter the new campaign by placing a lot of faith in their existing roster, prospects and veterans who once showed glimpses of All-Star caliber play. Below, you’ll see our projected starting rotation, bullpen, lineup, bench, prospects and best bets for the upcoming season.

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2024 Boston Red Sox: Projected Starting Rotation

1. Brayan Bello

After making some strides in the first half of last season, Brayan Bello (12-11, 4.24 ERA) enters 2024 as the ace of the pitching staff. It was a tale of two seasons for Bello last year, as his pre All-Star (6-5, 3.04 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 14 GS) and post All-Star (6-6, 5.49 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 14 GS) numbers showed. He finished up the year with a 7.62 ERA and 1.62 WHIP across five September starts and also struggled in day games (6.94 ERA over 10 starts compared to 3.06 ERA over 18 night starts). Overall, he’s going to have to be much more consistent, but it’s worth noting that he allowed a Batting Average of Balls in Play (BABIP) of .306, which proved he was unlucky. Bello will also need to bring up his 19.8% strikeout rate from last year and his development of a breaking ball and cutter should help in that regard, or at least in limiting hard contact. There’s optimism that Bello can be the first consistent homegrown starter that the Red Sox developed since the Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester Eras. 

2. Nick Pivetta

This will be Nick Pivetta’s fifth season (fourth full season) as a member of the Red Sox. Last year, he split time as a starter and a reliever, but all indications point to him starting once again this year. As a reliever in 2023, Pivetta threw 55.2 innings and recorded a 5-3 record with a 3.07 ERA and 0.97 WHIP and threw 87.0 innings and recorded a 5-6 record with a 4.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP as a starter. Overall, he proved a strong ability to miss bats, striking out 183 over 142.2 innings overall, but also allowed 23 home runs. With an improved xFIP of 3.55 last year (his best in Boston), Pivetta is likely going to be the best overall pitcher on this staff, especially if he can come close to his 31.2% strikeout rate that he posted in 2023. The Blue Jays have had his number historically, but he’s performed well against the rest of the AL East throughout his career.

3. Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito signed with the Sox this offseason and spent time with three different teams last year, which is a pretty rare feat. Through 21 starts with the White Sox (6-6, 3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), he then struggled with the Angels (6 GS,1-5, 6.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) and Guardians (6 GS, 1-4, 7.04 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). Boston would love to see the 2019-2021 version of Giolito, who posted ERA’s between 3.41 and 3.53 and WHIP’s between 1.04 and 1.10. Most troubling, he allowed a ridiculous 41 home runs in 33 games, the 2nd-highest number in the entire MLB. This will likely be a hope-and-pray scenario for Giolito’s outlook; he’s a reverse-splits, fly-ball-inducing pitcher who will have to deal with the Green Monster in about half of his starts.

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4. Kutter Crawford

Kutter Crawford went 6-8 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 31 games (23 starts) over 129.1 innings. Overall, he recorded 135 strikeouts and allowed just 107 hits in those innings, proving to be an effective back-end starter and bulk reliever. His 3.30 xERA and 3.83 FIP show that he actually outperformed his 4.04 ERA number and I think he’s one of the sneakiest back-end hurlers in the American League who can give Boston five quality innings. Don’t expect him to go too deep in games, but Crawford is a quality Major League pitcher.

5. Garrett Whitlock

Garrett Whitlock had an up-and-down 2023 campaign, logging a 5-5 record, 5.15 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 71.2 innings over 22 games (10 starts). He will need to be much improved to hang on to this spot and it’ll be interesting to see if he throws his sinker or changeup with more effectiveness than last season, when both pitchers had negative pitch values for the first time in his career (especially his changeup, which dipped from +6.2 to -6.4, per FanGraphs). Overall, this may not be the sexiest starting rotation on paper, but it has quite a bit of upside, in my opinion. Per FanGraphs, this staff ranks 18th in projected WAR, with Giolito (2.5) and Bello (2.5) leading the way.

READ: Burdge: I’m Hitting This Red Sox Futures Bet Before Opening Day

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2024 Boston Red Sox: Projected Bullpen

Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, Tanner Houck, John Schreiber, Brennan Bernardino, Justin Slaten, Cooper Criswell, Josh Winckowski

Per FanGraphs, this group ranks 16th in projected WAR and that’s right where I’d rank them as well. After likely trying to offload Jansen’s salary this offseason, the closer will return and I’d also keep an eye on Chris Martin and Tanner Houck. Martin had a sensational 2023 campaign, posting a 1.05 ERA (1.03 WHIP) with a 4-1 record over 55 appearances with three saves. If Jansen struggles or gets traded before the deadline, look for Martin to get some consistent save opportunities. Houck has had 41 starts and 33 relief appearances in his young career and tends to pitch best early in games in short spurts. I’d keep an eye on him as a spot starter or bulk reliever in what could be an important role behind Crawford or Whitlock especially. Overall, this isn’t an elite group, but it’s not a terrible one either.

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2024 Boston Red Sox: Projected Lineup & Bench

1. Jarren Duran, CF

In what was a disappointing campaign from a team perspective, 2023 was a breakout year for Jarren Duran, who will man center field and lead off after slashing .295/.346/.482 with 24 steals, eight home runs, 40 RBI, 98 hits and 46 runs in 101 games played. As a plus-defender and the fastest guy on the field, this could be a career-defining year for the 27 year old.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B

Rafael Devers knocked out 33 homers with 100 RBI and slashed .271/.351/.500 through 153 games last season. If this team overachieves, it’ll likely be due in part to his MVP-level production. With Trevor Story (next up) now healthy, he should have protection in the order and see more pitches to hit than in previous years, which should boost his upside.

3. Trevor Story, SS

Story is finally healthy after playing just 43 games last season due to injury (.203/.250/.316), hitting three homers and 14 RBI. The year before, he hit 16 homers with 66 RBI in 94 games for the Sox in his first year with the club, slashing .238/.303/.434 before his year was cut short with an injury. As he showed in Colorado, Story has a very rare combination of power and speed when he’s healthy and Boston will rely on his production in 2024. If he hits up to his potential and stays healthy, this lineup has the potential to be very dangerous.

4. Masataka Yoshida, DH

Japanese lefty Masataka Yoshida had a stellar rookie campaign last year, hitting 15 homers and 33 doubles while driving in 72 runs and scoring 71 in 140 games played (.289/.338/.445). He adjusted to MLB pitching pretty quickly and was a consistent producer all year long. I expect Cora to use him in the middle of the order, just like he did last season. As a 30 year old, he’s a mature hitter with discipline who should continue to produce at a similar clip moving forward.

5. Tyler O’Neill, LF

Tyler O’Neill is someone I’m really excited about. New Red Sox president of baseball operations Craig Breslow traded for O’Neill this offseason and is hoping he can return to 2021 form, when he hit 34 home runs with 80 RBI while slashing .286/.352/.560 through 141 games played. Injuries and St. Louis’ depth chart have limited O’Neill’s statistical outputs in 2022 and 2023, but he has proven pop and 10-to-15 stolen base upside. I am very high on him this year.

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6. Triston Casas, 1B

Rounding out the top six in the lineup is first baseman Triston Casas. In his first full MLB season, he hit 24 homers and drove in 65 runs in 132 games while slashing .263/.367/.490. He struggled against left-handed pitching compared to right-handed pitching, which isn’t much of a shock for a young left-handed power hitter, but the 6’5, 244-pounder is a name to watch this year. Notably, he finished the second half of 2023 on fire. Among all hitters with 200 plate appearances, he ranked 4th in OPS, 5th in wRC+, 5th in Slugging Percentage, 7th in ISO, 7th in On-Base Percentage and 10th in Batting Average.

7. Vaughn Grissom, 2B

After breaking onto the scene by slashing .291/.353/.440 across 41 games as a rookie in 2022, Vaughn Grissom surprisingly didn’t earn the starting shortstop role in Atlanta last season, despite the fact that Dansby Swanson signed with the Cubs in free agency and left a vacancy. Grissom spent most of the season in the minors and appeared in just 22 Major League games, stuck behind an overachieving Orlando Arcia. Now, he will man the keystone in Boston and bring some stability to a position that has been longing for a long-term option since Dustin Pedroia retired. 

8. Wilyer Abreu/Rob Refsnyder, RF, 9. Reese McGuire/Connor Wong, C, Bench: Pablo Reyes, IF, Bobby Dalbec

The final two spots in the order will likely be split among Wilyer Abreu (against righties) and Rob Refsnyder (against lefties) at right field and Reese McGuire (against righties) and Connor Wong (against lefties). Pablo Reyes and Bobby Dalbec will also be fill-in options as utility men. All of these spots are most likely going to be up for grabs between the aforementioned guys and prospects, as you’ll see below.

READ: Longshot 2024 World Series AL Sleeper To Consider

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2024 Boston Red Sox: Top Prospects

Ceddanne Rafaela (3), Kyle Teel (4), Wikelman Gonzalez (9), Luis Perales (11), David Hamilton (20), Brandon Walter (25)

One of the reasons why I’m optimistic about this year’s team and likely why Breslow and the front office were quiet in the offseason was due to the fact that there are likely a number of prospects in the farm system that could make their MLB debuts. Above, you’ll see the list of prospects with a solid shot of making it to the Big Leagues in 2024. Some of my favorites include Ceddanne Rafaela (No. 3 prospect per MLB.com), Kyle Teel (4) and Brandon Walter (25).

Rafaela is just 5’9, but is going to be one of the best defensive outfielders when he makes his debut. He’s undisciplined at the plate, but showed pop with 22 homers last year. I think he’s going to eventually be this team’s starting everyday right fielder in what’s a very difficult position to play at Fenway Park. Don’t be shocked if he wins the job out of Spring Training, but I think he will be up at some point this year after getting called up for 28 games at the tail end of last year.

Teel was a recent draft pick in 2023, but the 22-year-old catcher is likely to start the year in Double-A and could find himself in the Majors due to the lack of talent in front of him at the position. Teel was an exceptional collegiate hitter and needs a bit more time to develop in the minors before his call-up, but he could make a difference towards the middle or end of the year if Boston needs an offensive upgrade.

Southpaw reliever Brandon Walter has a weird arm slot on his delivery and a huge extension which makes him a very difficult hurler for left-handed hitters to read. He had nine appearances last year and struggled with a 6.26 ERA in just 23.0 innings, but I think there will be an opportunity to get innings and make an impact as the season rolls on, especially against division foes like the Orioles and Yankees, who have left-handed power bats to be worried about.

I don’t think we will see No. 1 ranked prospect Marcelo Mayer this season since he spent so much time injured last year, but he’s another name to watch. 

READ: 2024 MLB Win Totals For Every Team

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2024 Boston Red Sox: Top Futures

Over 79.5 Regular Season Wins (+100, BetMGM)

This team has a middling pitching staff, but I think has more offensive upside than most may think. Because the team didn’t spend in the offseason, the new front office could be very aggressive before the trade deadline if they want to be in an attempt to make upgrades. While the Orioles and Yankees are clearly my two favorite teams in the division, you can make the argument that the Sox are right there with the Rays and Blue Jays in the AL East.

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To Make The Playoffs (+270, BetRivers)

A lot can happen throughout an MLB season. These are the best odds you can find at the moment and I’m optimistic about this group earning an AL Wild Card spot.

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Rafael Devers AL MVP (+2800, Caesars)

If you want to take a shot on someone to win MVP, you can do a lot worse than Devers, who is one of the best hitters in the world. If Boston makes the playoffs, he will certainly be in consideration for the award.

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Jarren Duran Over 26.5 Stolen Bases (-110, DraftKings)

Duran played 101 games last season and recorded 24 stolen bases compared to just two times he was caught stealing. Now firmly atop this lineup, he should smash this number if he stays healthy.

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