Chris Perez RP (CLE) - Joe H. and I have talked previously on Twitter and in this space about the warning signs revolving Chris Perez. Sure enough, he blew a 3 run lead on Opening Day. Perez gave up 3 ER off of 3 hits and 2 walks while retiring only 2 batters. Perez failed to record a strikeout. While he is unlikely to lose the job quickly, Perez owners should be concerned. Despite 36 saves and a 3.32 ERA last season Perez pitched rather poorly as indicated by his 4.27 FIP and 5.01 xFIP. His 5.88 K/9 and 1.5 K/BB ratio leave much to be desired. Perez has yet to demonstrate even average skills for a relief pitcher. His owners should grab Vinnie Pestano if possible as he is the best pitcher in the Indians' bullpen and next in line for saves if Perez should lose his job.
Jeremy Hellickson SP (TB) - I was asked on Twitter to cover Hellickson and for those of you who have been reading me, you know I am not very high on him. Hellickson was a top prospect and will develop into a quality SP at some point, but he is not there right now and a repeat of last season's surface stats is not happening barring some unforeseen improvements in his peripherals. Hellickson appeared to be quite successful last year with a 2.95 ERA and 13 wins, but those numbers were heavily aided by a .223 BABIP, 82 LOB% and 8.1 HR/FB%. Those numbers are simply not repeatable. Hellickson's actual skill stats include a subpar 5.57 K/9, average BB/9 of 3.43 and subpar GB% of 35%. Those numbers left Hellickson with an FIP of 4.44 and xFIP of 4.72. Look for Hellickson's win total to drop this year and for his ERA to be over 4. He doesn't have an easy start to the season either as his first start is scheduled to be home against the Yankees and second start against the Red Sox in Boston.
Jose Bautista OF (TOR) - Bautista picked up right where he left off the past 2 seasons, hitting his first homerun of the year. Bautista added 2 other hits and walked twice while striking out once. Bautista has led the majors 2 years in a row in homers and is as good of a bet as anyone to do it again. His EYE improvement from .86 to 1.19 last season showed he is truly one of the game's best hitters. This is a guy with tremendous raw power (21.7 and 22.5 HR/FB rates past 2 years) who generates loft in his swing (54.5 and 47 FB rates past 2 years). Bautista has great command of the strike zone, only chasing balls 25.8% of the time last season; the league average chase rate was 30.6%. Surprisingly, Bautista does not swing and miss much for a power hitter - his 7.6% swinging strike rate was a full percentage point better than the league average in 2011 and he has maintained that swinging strike rate for 5 straight seasons.
JP Arencibia C (TOR) - JP Arencibia went just 1-7 in yesterday's 16 inning marathon, but the 1 hit was huge as Arencibia deposited a 3-run homer in the top of the 16th inning. Arencibia has some serious power which makes him a valuable fantasy commodity given his position. Last season Arencibia posted a .219 ISO and hit 23 HR in 486 plate appearances. Given Arencibia's loft last season (49.8 FB%) he is a safe bet to repeat his HR total. In fact, his HR/FB% of 14.7% has some room for improvement for a guy with Arencibia's strength, so a 30 HR season is attainable. Arencibia's downside is his average. He hit just .219 last season due to a 27.4 K% and 15.7 LD%. This will never be a strength for Arencibia, but Fantistics does project an upswing in his BA for this season. The software calls for a .241 average; Arencibia should see an EYE improvement in his second full season as well as an improvement on his dreadful .190 singles average from a year ago.
Justin Masterson SP (CLE) - I was really impressed with Justin Masterson yesterday. He went 8 strong innings in which he struck out 10 batters and only allowed 2 hits and 1 walk; one of the hits was a solo homer by Jose Bautista. For his career Masterson has struggled against left handed hitting (.790 OPS allowed), but he showed improvement in that area last season (.746 OPS allowed) making him a viable starting pitcher. Masterson's outing today was validation for those who felt the improvement against left handed hitting was legitimate; despite facing a lineup with 4 left handed bats (Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind, Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus) Masterson allowed just 1 hit to lefties in the game. If Masterson's improvements against LHP are real, he is headed for another double digit win season and sub-3.50 ERA. Also note that Masterson induced 10 GB outs to 4 FB outs; it is his career 56.1 GB% that is his most valuable skill.