2015 Outlook: The 2014 season was a tale of two halves for Uehara. After the right-hander posted a 1.65 ERA and .174 BAA in 43⅔ innings prior to the All-Star break, fatigue set in and he finished with a 4.35 ERA and .282 BAA in the second half, with all 10 of his earned runs allowed coming in a span of four innings (six appearances). His struggles forced manager John Farrell to make a change at closer -- Edward Mujica finished the year as the Red Sox's ninth-inning man -- but Boston re-signed Uehara to two-year, $18 million deal in the offseason, meaning the soon-to-be 40-year-old will return to the ninth-inning role to open 2015. It seems likely the team will take measures to limit Uehara's workload early on this season, potentially affording Mujica some save opportunities, but Uehara is still able to miss bats at a great clip (32.1 percent strikeout rate last season) and should have no trouble holding onto the job so long as his historically troublesome shoulder holds up.
2015 Outlook: Last season proved to be a career campaign for Porcello in that he set new personal highs in wins, ERA and WHIP, but he didn't continue to grow his strikeout rate, as he had done each of the previous four seasons. After improving his strikeout rate nearly six full percentage points from 2012 to 2013, Porcello dropped four points last season to a below-average 15 percent rate. Nonetheless, he had better overall numbers, much of which can be attributed to his success against left-handed hitters (historically a problem for him). Last season, he held lefties to a sub-.300 batting average and a sub-.800 OPS for the first time since 2009 and 2010, respectively. He's a solid three-category pitcher as is, but it would be nice if he could recover some of the swing-and-miss skills he flashed in 2013.
2015 Outlook: From 2009 to 2013, Buchholz had a .272 BABIP. In 2014, his BABIP was .315, as he took a significant step back from the gains he displayed in 2013. His strikeout rate fell from 23 percent to 18 percent, and his opponents' batting average spiked from .199 to .273, as he looked much more hittable than in the past. Buchholz's velocity was down a bit from recent years, but his real troubles revolved around his issues against lefties. After holding them to a .187/.263/.273 line in 2013, lefties hit Buchholz at a .284/.356/.437 rate in 2014, with a BABIP nearly 100 points higher than it was in 2013. Buchholz has shown quite a bit of volatility in his statistics in recent years, which makes him a very risky investment for 2015. You truly don't know what you're going to get from him, but there is that chance it'll be very good.
2015 Outlook: An investment in Mujica is a bet against the durability of Koji Uehara, who turns 40 before Opening Day. Considering Uehara has pitched more than 60 innings in both of the last two seasons and in four of his six seasons overall, it might be better to target another team's second option at closer as a late-round speculative play. After pitching way over his head in 2013, when he put up 2.78 ERA with the Cardinals, Mujica regressed to a more representative 3.90 ERA in 2014. Another major drawback in rostering Mujica over other relievers in similar situations is that he does not offer big-time strikeouts, which puts him in the minority among notable setup men. Mujica has had a strikeout rate below 19 percent in each of the last three seasons, and starting a reliever with a poor strikeout rate who is not getting saves is inadvisable in most cases.
2015 Outlook: Miley posted a 3.98 FIP in over 200 innings in both 2013 and 2014, so it would seem to be pretty clear what kind of pitcher the Red Sox received in an offseason trade with the Diamondbacks. However, he achieved mediocrity in very different ways over the past two seasons. In 2013, he had a 147:66 K:BB ratio, but last season he went away from pitching to contact and used his slider a lot more, resulting in a 183:75 K:BB ratio. The Red Sox presumably think they are getting the 2014 version of Miley, but the 1.40 WHIP that accompanied his effort to miss more bats makes it difficult to invest in the 28-year-old lefty even though he appears to be safely entrenched in Boston's starting rotation.
2015 Outlook: Everything that could go wrong did for Masterson in 2014. His 11.7 percent walk rate and .339 BABIP both were career highs, and he lost 3 miles per hour on his fastball. This all led to an astronomical 5.88 ERA over 128 2/3 innings between Cleveland and St. Louis. Only Edwin Jackson was less effective among starters who got as much work as Masterson, and yet it seems the Red Sox will go into 2015 with him penciled in as the No. 5 starter. The smart money would seem to be on Boston upgrading that spot either internally or via trade by season's end. Masterson would actually be an intriguing high-leverage reliever, as his stuff should be able to play out of the bullpen, but as long as Koji Uehara is healthy, the most likely avenue to Masterson being fantasy relevant would be for him to be a better starter than he was in 2014. His 4.08 xFIP from 2014 suggests that he could bounce back a little, but the decline in velocity is impossible to ignore, and in standard mixed leagues, there are better starting pitchers to target at the end of drafts.
2015 Outlook: Kelly had impressive rookie and sophomore campaigns in 2012 and 2013, posting a 3.53 ERA and 2.69 ERA in mixed work as a starter and reliever. Last year didn't go as well, as he suffered a hamstring injury in April that sidelined him for nearly three months, and he got roughed up upon his return to the tune of a 7.32 ERA in four July starts. Kelly fared a bit better after a deadline deal to the Red Sox, going 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 10 starts, but it was still the worst of his three seasons to date. Though Boston made a flurry of offseason moves to add starting pitching, Kelly should get the chance to enter spring training as the team's No. 5 pitcher and could be worthy of consideration if he's able to replicate his 2012 or 2013 seasons rather than his 2014 campaign.
2015 Outlook: Despite a significant drop in strand rate (82.4 percent in 2013 to 76.5 percent in 2014), Tazawa managed to lower his ERA to 2.86 and his WHIP to 1.19 on the season (from 3.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP). Some of the 28-year-old reliever's advanced stats (2.94 FIP, 3.17 xFIP and .289 BABIP) suggest his season wasn't as good as the surface numbers indicate, but he still turned in a sound season nonetheless. Heading into 2015, there's reason for optimism with Tazawa, with both Koji Uehara and Edward Mujica stumbling in the closer role in 2014. However, both appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order, meaning he will likely require hiccups by the two in 2015 for an opening to present itself. Tazawa does stand an outside chance to get save opportunities in 2015, and he should have a spot near the back end of the bullpen at a minimum.