At the start of last season the Boston Red Sox rotation was described as being potentially historically good. Now a year later much has changed. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey have both flopped and Clay Buchholz is failing to live up to the expectations he so highly established last year. Matsuzaka sports a 6.43 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with 7 strikeouts and 6 walks in just 14 innings and Buchholz has been even worse (6.60 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 8 K’s, 10 BB’s in 15 innings). However, the biggest problem in Boston is Lackey. Despite facing in two of the league’s top hitting clubs in his first two starts, Lackey is not showing signs of confidence. After three starts his ERA has ballooned to 9.82 and his WHIP sits at 1.77. He has struck out just 8 hitters and walked 5 in 14.2 innings and opposing batters are hitting 3.23 against him and his ESPN fantasy ownership has dropped to just 35.4 percent of leagues.
Francisco Liriano appears to have taken a step backward after taking two steps forward in 2010. His ERA jumped to 7.40 through his first four starts and he isn’t striking out nearly the same amount of batters that he did last year. In his last start he did a good job of keeping runs off the board (2 ERs in 6.1 IP) but he struck out just two compared to 5 walks. In the start before that he gave up 7 runs to the Royals. Really, The Royals? It is common for young starters to take a while to find their command but it has been four starts and he isn’t showing much improvement. I’m prepared to lose hope.
I’m willing to give Adam Dunn a bit of a break because he did have an appendectomy less than a week into the season, but even still, he isn’t do much with his bat. His average has dropped to .175 which isn’t terribly shocking considering his career average is .250 and he usually turn it on after April, but he seems to have lost his power stroke. He has only two home runs through the first ten games of the year and he was the guy we all thought could hit 50 bombs this year because of the great lineup and ballpark he is in. I’m holding out hope that Dunn rebounds in May, but he really needs to start the healing process quickly.
Mike Stanton is just 21 and has a whole heck of a lot of baseball left, but his slow start is startling. The promising right fielder has yet to hit a home run this season and is batting .206 with just 3 RBIs. The average wasn’t ever supposed to be high, but he was almost guaranteed 35 homers this year. He battled hamstring issues early on and that may have affected his swing, but he really should hit a home run soon if fantasy owners are going to keep him on their roster.
April usually isn’t the kindest month for Minnesota’s Delmon Young but his slow start has many thinking last year was a fluke. In 2010 he hit .298 with 21 HRs and 112 RBIs but so far in 2011 he is batting an abysmal .228 with no homers and 6 RBIs. Now with Joe Mauer on the DL and Justin Morneau still a little fuzzy while recovering from a concussion there is little to no protection to help Young pick up the pace.
All is not lost for fantasy owners. There are still a few players who are exceeding expectations and becoming increasingly relevant. Guys like Alex Gordon, Jed Lowrie and Drew Stubbs are thriving now with full playing time and several young pitchers, including a few Indians starters, are forcing themselves onto our fantasy rosters.
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