Red Sox Pitchers
Starting Pitcher: Pedro Martinez (1999)
Starting Pitcher: Roger Clemens (1986)
Starting Pitcher: Cy Young (1901)
Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale (2017)
Starting Pitcher: Smoky Joe Wood (1912)
Closer: Tom Gordon (1998)
Closer: Dick Radatz (1964)
It’s a toss up between Pedro’s 1999 and 2000 seasons but those are undoubtedly the most dominant performances by a Red Sox pitcher. I went with ’99 when he won a career-high 23 games and set the single-season franchise record with 313 strikeouts. His ERA and WHIP were better the following year but his 2.07 ERA and 0.923 WHIP were still ridiculously good in ”99.
The sparkling 1.93 ERA from the Rocket in 1990 was appealing but his MVP season in ’86 produced more wins (24), strikeouts (238), and a better WHIP (0.969). Clemens is an obvious addition to our fantasy pitching staff and his ’86 season gives us the best mix of the four categories he contributes in.
Red Sox fans bemoan the lucrative contract extension but there’s no denying that Sale’s first season in Boston was outstanding. The lanky lefty posted a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP while making a run at Pedro’s strikeout record with 308 K’s. Sale’s 17 wins are a bit light but we’ll make up for it with our last two starters to ensure we still finish strong in that category.
We have to be careful about loading up on too many pitchers from the dead ball era despite their minuscule ERA and WHIP. It was a much different game back then and despite the lack of run production, there were also fewer strikeouts. Racking up K’s is vital to the success of pitchers in fantasy and the strikeout rates from the early 20th century pale in comparison to the strikeout artists of today.
These next two pitchers tossed so many innings that their relatively low K/9 rates don’t matter. They still piled up enough total strikeouts to make the list – assuming we aren’t playing in a fantasy league with an innings cap.
Cy Young pitched for the Red Sox in the first year that the franchise joined the American League in 1901. He won 33 games with a 1.62 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 158 strikeouts. The ERA and WHIP are even more impressive considering the massive workload with 371 1/3 innings pitched.
Smoky Joe Wood saw by far his largest workload in 1912 when he threw 344 innings, leading to a career-high 34 wins and 258 strikeouts. He remained strong in the other two categories with a 1.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP.
Not many would think of Gordon as the best closer in Red Sox history, but from a fantasy perspective, it’s all about the saves. Flash set the single-season franchise record with 46 saves in ’98 while producing a solid 2.72 ERA.
Jonathan Papelbon had several years where he was much better in ERA and Craig Kimbrel was a more dominant strikeout pitcher but those categories matter less for a closer due to the limited innings total. I’m taking Gordan’s save total and the seven wins he kicked in as an added bonus.
Radatz was a very different closer than what we’re accustomed to today, pitching as many innings out of the bullpen as some starting pitchers. His career-high 29 saves in ’64 is underwhelming but it’s tough to pass up the 16 wins and 181 strikeouts from a pitcher you can lock into a closer spot.
This collection of Red Sox greats would stack up well against any fantasy team. It’s absolutely dominant in a few categories and has no major weaknesses. We had to reach a bit to find some speed and the saves total is relatively low compared to the best relievers in MLB history but we have enough to compete in those categories. Put the production from these players together in a fantasy lineup and you have roto gold.