Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It hasn't been a fun season for the Boston Red Sox, who currently hold the third-worst record in the American League. But at least Thursday night's game at Fenway Park should be interesting.
That's because the Red Sox are welcoming back starter Derek Lowe and outfielder Johnny Damon. Both are visiting as members of the Cleveland Indians.
Lowe, who will get the start on Thursday against Josh Beckett, had a very distinguished career with the Red Sox from 1997 to 2004. Some of the highlights include Lowe's no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays back in April 2002 and his three victories in the 2004 postseason, when Boston took home its first World Series title in 86 years.
This will be Lowe's second time pitching in Boston since leaving the team and his first appearance against the Red Sox since 2009 when he was pitching for the Atlanta Braves.
Damon has been back to Fenway many times since leaving the Red Sox to sign with the New York Yankees in 2006, but this will be his first appearance there as an Indian. While Damon played for the Red Sox, he was known for his long hair, scraggly beard and, of course, his heroics against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
It's too early to tell if Damon will provide much help in fantasy this season (he's only played in eight games), but Lowe has already established himself as one of the game's best starting pitchers this season. The 38-year-old's 2.39 ERA through six starts is eighth-best in the American League. Of the 83 AL pitchers who have started a game this season, only Jered Weaver, James Shields and David Price have registered more wins than Lowe (four).
Lowe isn't the only ex-Red Sox enjoying success this season. Here are 10 more former Sox who can help out your fantasy team:
Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Sox fans remember Arroyo for his blond cornrows and the time that Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of his glove in the 2004 playoffs. Arroyo doesn't rock the cornrows anymore, but he's still been able to put together a pretty productive season. He's carrying a 2.75 ERA after six starts, which would be a career high for Arroyo.
Erik Bedard, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: Bedard, who made eight starts for the Red Sox last season, would probably be 4-2 this year if he played for a different team. Instead, he pitches for the light-hitting Pirates and his record is just 2-4. Give the 33-year-old from Canada some credit, though. His ERA is a mere 2.57 and his 37 strikeouts leads the team.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers: If there's one thing Red Sox fans learned about Beltre during his tenure in Boston, it's that he absolutely hates it when you pat him on the head. Despite his strange phobia, Beltre continues to be one of the best all-around third basemen in the game. This year, he's batting .319 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.
Bartolo Colon, SP, Oakland Athletics: Colon had an up-and-down season for the Red Sox in 2008 (4-2, 3.92 ERA), but he has been very effective for the A's in 2012. He is 3-2 and his 2.83 ERA is the lowest of his 15-year career. Pitching half of his games at the spacious Oakland Coliseum certainly hasn't hurt the soon-to-be 39-year-old. At the moment, Colon is owned in 64.5 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals: LaRoche came over from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline and played six games for Boston in 2009 before getting shipped off again to Atlanta. With the way LaRoche has been performing in 2012, the Red Sox are probably wishing they had kept him. Right now, LaRoche is hitting nearly 50 points higher than his career average (.269) and with 19 RBIs in 26 games, he looks well on his way to his second 100-RBI campaign in three seasons. He's also tied for the team lead in homers (five).
Jed Lowrie, SS, Houston Astros: Lowrie was supposed to be Boston's shortstop of the future before they traded him to Houston during the offseason. Now he's the Astros' shortstop of the future. Lowrie has already bashed four homers in 2012, putting him on pace to hit 21 for the season. That's 12 homers more than Lowrie's career high. His current .301 batting average also would be the best of his career. It looks like the future is now for Lowrie.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies: You knew it was time for Papelbon to come in and dominate when the bagpipes from Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping up to Boston" started blasting over Fenway Park speakers. Papelbon made the ninth inning an experience when he was with the Red Sox. Now he's trying to make it an experience for Phillies fans and to date he hasn't disappointed. The four-time All-Star is nine-for-nine in save chances this season.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: Pena must make Red Sox fans think of the Katy Perry song "The One That Got Away." Pena, who actually went to college in Boston at Northeastern University, hit .273 for the Red Sox in 2006 while collecting just one home run. Unimpressed, the Boston front office let the 6- foot-2 first baseman go at the end of the year. All Pena did the following season was crush 46 homers and drive in 121 runs. Boston won the World Series that year, but can you imagine how good they would have been had they kept Pena? He is now in his second stint with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .234 with five home runs and 14 RBIs through his first 31 games.
Hanley Ramirez, 3B, Miami Marlins: Ramirez was a massive fantasy bust in 2011, batting just .243 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs after producing a .300/21/76 line for the Marlins in 2010. Ramirez still isn't hitting for a high average (.220), but at least his power appears to be coming back (six homers and 21 RBIs). Ramirez also is on pace to grab 31 stolen bases after nabbing just 20 last season.
Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics: Reddick was shipped to Oakland last offseason as part of the deal that brought stud closer Andrew Bailey to Boston. While Bailey is likely out for the year after having thumb surgery, Reddick is doing quite well in his first season as an Athletic. Reddick leads the A's in home runs with six and he's second on the team in RBIs behind rookie center fielder Yoenis Cespedes.