Josh Beckett (SP - BOS) - Beckett was rocked by the Indians in his return to the rotation after missing a start to a strained lat muscle, giving up seven runs on seven hits (two home runs) in just 2 1/3 innings as the Tribe hit rocket after rocket to balloon his ERA to 5.97. Of the 10 balls Cleveland hit against him, seven were line drives, flyball hits or home runs. Although Beckett had a bounce back season last year, his groundball rate dropped and his fastball usage continued to plummet as he implemented a cutter. He is capable of heating up for stretches, but his injury history and declining velocity make him a worrisome option. He's worth trotting out there next outing on Tuesday (if he makes the start), if only because the Mariners offense is anemic.
Derek Holland (SP - TEX) - Holland delivered his second straight strong outing, allowing just three unearned runs on four hits in six innings against the Orioles with two walks and five strikeouts. He was outstanding down the stretch last year with a 2.77 ERA and 87/28 K/BB in 97 1/3 IP from July 7 on, and has a lot of upside at just 25 with a very good minor league track record. Holland has yet to master right-handed hitters (career .799 OPS against) and is hurt by his home park, but his groundball rate increased over four percent last year and his excellent velocity and breaking balls should lead to an increasing strikeout rate. He's a very good option against the light-hitting A's on Wednesday.
Jim Johnson (RP - BAL) - Johnson allowed his first run of 2012, surrendering a three-run homer to David Murphy after he was brought in with two runners on up four runs. Overlooked since he's been on a perennial cellar-dweller, Johnson has been one of baseball's best relievers since he came up to stay in 2008. His strikeout rate is not elite for a reliever, but he's improved his control greatly and his hard, heavy sinking fastball is very difficult to lift with authority. He won't have this many save opportunities going forward, but a majority of the wins the Orioles will have are likely to be close, giving him still a decent amount of opportunities.
David Price (SP - TB) - Price had a rough outing at Yankee Stadium, allowing five runs on 11 hits (two home runs) in seven innings, striking out four and walking three. He has struggled in the Big Apple, so it wasn't a surprise to see him hit around against the excellent Yankees lineup. Price's strikeout, walk and groundball rates have improved each year since he's become a starter in the big leagues, and he's moving into his prime at 26 this year. Price has scrapped his slider for a cutter this year and has thrown a lot more changeups at the expense of fastballs, giving him more weapons against right-handed hitters. The fantasy ace has a very tough matchup in Toronto Tuesday, but his potential to dominate every time should have him in starting lineups.
Henderson Alvarez (SP - TOR) - Alvarez came through with another solid outing, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits in seven innings against the Twins, but his peripherals continued to under perform as he walked three, struck out only two and gave up a home run. The home runs shouldn't continue too much longer as he possesses dominant groundball tendencies, but he has now fanned just 14 in 48 2/3 frames, a pathetic 2.59 per nine innings. He has thrown fewer fastballs and changeups this year as he has increased his slider usage and added a cutter, but the variations aren't large enough to explain such a low strikeout rate and his fastball velocity is around his average last year. He'll take on the Rays at home Tuesday.
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