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Fantasy Fix: Slow Starters

Baseball has its share of slow starters who can test the patience of fantasy team owners. If they are big enough stars, you can't just drop them on a whim for another player on a hot streak. But the longer the slump, the harder it gets to keep thinking that way.

Throughout April, we've been waiting for several big-name pitchers to settle in and start delivering the fantasy returns we're used to getting from them, but as the month closes out, our nerves are fraying.

Corey Kluber, SP, CLE: 0-3, 36 strikeouts, 4.24 ERA, 1.26 WHIP.

Last year's AL CY Young seemed like a great bet coming into this year. Many experts assured us he was not a one-year wonder. While he's kept up a nice strikeout pace and has gone at least six innings in all his starts, he also has allowed 36 hits in 34 IP and an astonishing 23 hits in his last 12.1 IP. I wouldn't trade him or drop him, but maybe consider benching him until he straightens himself out.

Jon Lester, SP, CUBS: 0-2, 24 strikeouts, 6.23 ERA, 1.57 WHIP.

The Cubs thus far haven't gotten much for their big free-agent spend. Part of the reason might be that he's still catching up from time missed this spring, but he's also a long-time AL pitcher learning the ways of the NL. He finally looked a little better in his fourth start last weekend, notching 10 strikeouts, so maybe he's on his way back.

Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS: 1-2, 23 strikeouts, 4.88 ERA, 1.63 WHIP.

That 1.63 WHIP, built in part from 32 hits allowed in just 24 IP, is very concerning. His one win came against the lowly Phillies; he's been knocked around by everyone else. Then again, the much-heralded Nats have had an awful April, and it's a good bet the whole team will heat up soon.

Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF: 1-1, 17 strikeouts, 4.63 ERA, 1.37 WHIP.

The World Series hero might be suffering from a little early season let-down, though I'm sure he wouldn't admit it. He's had only one really bad game, in which he gave up 10 hits and five runs in three innings. Of these four pitchers, I'm least concerned about Bumgarner.

Expert Wire
* Fantasy CPR looks for options to replace Adam Wainwright, who is lost for the season due to injury. There really isn't a replacement for this top 10 starter, and if you have him in a keeper league you probably should hang on to him, since it was an Achilles injury and not an arm problem that sidelined him

* The Washington Post's "Fancy Stats" blog says to pick up Mark Teixeira, who has piled up eight HRs already and seems intent to fulfill a handful of forecasts that pinned him as a comeback candidate. Funny thing is, Tex is almost always a slow starter.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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