By David Ferris
Greg Holland, RP, Royals: There are plenty of relievers the Royals could use to fill in for the departed Jonathan Broxton, but Holland is getting first chance and he's already converted one save. Holland has the swing-and-miss stuff you want for this gig (56 punchouts in 40.2 innings), though a bloated walk rate (23 free passes) needs to be corrected. At the end of the day we'll bet on him, since it's not hard for any capable major-league reliever to handle a save job if it's just the ninth inning. And we'll also note that his control wasn't as big an issue last season.
Dan Straily, SP, Athletics: It's an embarrassment of riches in the Oakland pitching system right now, with Straily the latest to drop (he'll start Friday against Toronto). The hard-throwing righty has a zesty 11.4 K/9 rate at two levels this season, and he's only walking 2.4 batters per clip. Best of all, those ratios were static at both Double-A and Triple-A, a good sign that Straily is ready for The Show. Go ahead and dial up the 22-year-old right out of the box, especially considering the forgiving nature of the Oakland ballpark.
Kris Medlen, SP/RP, Braves: Medlen was sharp in his return to the rotation (5 IP, 1 R) after a solid season in the Atlanta bullpen (2.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP). It's always nice to have a starter on your roto roster who qualifies at both spots - the flexibility comes in handy - and Medlen will be a heavy favorite on the weekend when he faces Houston's stripped lineup. Medlen's ground-ball rate has hit a major spike this year, which is a precursor to future success.
Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners: If you have the freedom to stream him for the home starts only, there's a decent return coming your way: 2.63 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 53 strikeouts over 72 innings. All offense is knocked dead on contact in Safeco Field, and it's been more extreme than ever in 2012. Just make sure you flick the switch on the road, where Vargas has a 4.67 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP - his mistakes aren't hidden in less-forgiving parks.
Jonathan Broxton, RP, Reds: Dusty Baker is the type of manager who's very good and consistent with his closers, so Aroldis Chapman will keep the ninth going forward. Broxton might get the save chances on days where Chapman needs a rest, but this isn't expected to be a shared job. In short, Broxton's value just about expired the day he was shipped back to the NL.
Barry Zito, SP, Giants: He's been ineffective in six of his last 10 turns, including the Thursday mess that's in progress as we go to press. Zito clearly has no faith in his batting-practice fastball, which means batters can sit on his breaking stuff (and pass on it if they like). When Zito has full command of the off-speed pitches, he can still skate by. If he's not letter-perfect in this area, he gets knocked all around the park. Move along.
Derek Lowe, SP, Free Agent: The Indians finally cut the cord on the struggling Lowe (5.52 ERA, 1.69 WHIP), and the veteran can't argue bad luck here. The league is batting .321 against him and he's given up more walks than strikeouts (always a troubling sign). Even if a contender decides to kick the tires on Lowe, you should kick him to the curb in any format, even AL-only pools. There's nothing left in the tank.
Roy Oswalt, RP, Rangers: Arlington is always a good place to hit, but especially when Oswalt is on the mound (6.49 ERA, .358 BAA). The Rangers made a mistake when they came to Oswalt with a lucrative midseason package. Recent acquire Ryan Dempster should put up a better fight, but don't be surprised if his ERA is over four for his duration in the American League. Power hitters thrive deep in the heart of Texas, especially from the left side of the plate.