Elvis Andrus - Before diving into a review of Elvis Andrus, let's remember he doesn't turn 24-years old until August. There is a ton of room for improvement with this kid, who went 2-for-4 with two singles on Monday. He entered yesterday's game versus the Yankees with an improved walk rate (up 3% compared to '11) and owned a .115 ISO (compared to a .082 mark in '11). However, thanks to a .260 BABIP, the shortstop was hitting just .230 and probably making his fantasy owners a little restless, especially because he's attempted just one stolen base. Since so much of Andrus' value is tied to steals, it's going to be fascinating to see if the Rangers start allowing him to run more often. With such a potent lineup, Ron Washington may be thinking the risk of trying to steal a base isn't worth it since one of the big boppers will just knock in Andrus anyway. Be patient with the batting average and 30 steals should still be in play by season's end.
Mark Reynolds - The Orioles didn't play on Monday so Mark Reynolds couldn't make an out. At least, I think that's true. Reynolds is a notoriously streaky hitter, but he's in some kind of funk, even for him. In 14 games, Reynolds has zero HRs, a 39% strikeout rate, a .083 ISO and a .125/.250/.208 slash line. I feel like we should all pause for a moment of silence now. As bad as he's been, Reynolds should start hitting HRs soon enough. He's hit at least 28 bombs in every season since 2008 and recorded an ISO of .216 or better in each season since 2007. Reynolds may not be seeing the ball well right now based on his 50% swing percentage on pitches in the strike zone (compared to a 67% career average). He's also hitting a ton of FBs (61%) and hardly any LDs (7%). All these numbers are way out of whack with his career norms so expect Reynolds to bounce back in the coming weeks. He's been so bad you might even be able to pick him up for next to nothing at this point.
Shelley Duncan - The Indians' left fielder, or Lurch as I like to call him, has been on a tear to start the season and enters tonight's game with a .268/.434/.439 slash line to go along with a .171 ISO. Duncan's 23% walk rate is outstanding and helps make up for his 21% strikeout mark. Duncan's actually a decent hitter when he's used in the right way, which means two or so starts per week. He's never accumulated more than 259 plate appearances in a season and that's because, after awhile, he's exposed as a hitter. Last season, for example, the Tribe gave Duncan 247 plate appearances and he responded with a respectable .808 OPS to go along with 11 HRs. This season, the Indians whiffed on acquiring a good outfielder via free agency and, with Grady Sizemore out, had to move Michael Brantley to center which opened up left field for the Dunc Tank. With Johnny Damon set to join the club around May 1, Duncan's monopoly on left field is winding down. He's certainly worth playing now while he's hitting well but his at-bats and performance are both likely to drop off soon.
Tom Milone - I'll be honest, in the preseason I didn't anticipate writing about Tom Milone. But, here we are, with Milone making his fourth start of the season this evening versus the White Sox and owning a spiffy 2.84 ERA. However, the joy ride is likely to end soon for Mr. Milone based on his horrible peripheral stats. His strikeout rate, at 3.79, is barely above mine. He's also walking nearly three batters per game and owns an unsustainable .224 BABIP as well as a 4.42 xFIP. However, at 25, Milone does have some long-term value in fantasy leagues. He is just starting to get his first taste of the majors after tossing 26 innings last season with the Nationals and he did own an 8.83 strikeout rate at AA ball in 2010 and a 9.40 whiff rate at AAA in 2011. So, while he isn't missing bats at the major league level yet, there's definitely hope he can improve as he gets more experience. I'd be cautious buying Milone at this point based on his peripherals, but he is someone who may be able to help your team down the road.
Jon Lester - So, what's wrong with Jon Lester? On Monday against the Twins, the Red Sox lefty got shelled again, giving up five earned runs in seven innings. Lester's problems have been plentiful and a combination of bad luck and poor execution. He's not striking out as many batters as he has in past seasons, owning a 6.35 strikeout rate prior to yesterday's start. His strand rate is just 61%, while his BABIP is about 28 points above his 2011 mark. He's also issuing too many free passes with a 4.76 walk rate compared to a 3.43 career mark. Last night, Lester against struggled with his command by walking four batters. His 3.88 FIP indicates he's been unlucky, but his 4.60 xFIP disagrees. Much like Tim Lincecum, folks are overreacting to a few bad starts that just so happen to occur early in the season. I suspect Lester will be a solid No. 2 SP in most leagues once he figures things out.
If you appreciated the relief pitching of Steve Olin, follow me on Twitter.