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Bits: Josh Johnson fires another gem

6/12/2012

Miami Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson hurled seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball to beat the Boston Red Sox on Monday, his sixth quality start in seven outings. Johnson's velocity and command have been better since an awful April (5.34 ERA), and he remains someone to target via trade. His story is also a reminder that season numbers don't mean as much as recent trends.

Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow left Monday's outing after just nine pitches with a left oblique strain. The team is calling him day-to-day, but fantasy owners should prepare to be without the No. 17 pitcher on the Player Rater for at least 15 days, perhaps until after the All-Star break. Morrow seemed on the verge of stardom after fanning 203 hitters in 2011 and remains on pace for 178 strikeouts, so hopefully this injury isn't a major setback. Keep him owned in all league setups.

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche homered Monday, his third blast in a week, and he's on pace for 30 home runs and 115 RBIs. LaRoche has certainly cooled off since hitting .329 in April, but the power remains. Curiously, LaRoche is among the most dropped hitters in ESPN leagues, but there's no obvious reason for pending regression.

New York Yankees outfielder Raul Ibanez homered Monday, his first blast since May 20, but his 10th of the season. Ibanez, like LaRoche, is being dropped in many leagues, but he's on pace for 27 home runs, and him reaching that figure wouldn't be shocking. These days Ibanez rarely faces a left-handed pitcher, his OPS at Yankee Stadium is a healthy .936, a .237 BABIP has likely helped keep his batting average down and there's no sign of left fielder Brett Gardner returning soon. Don't trade for Ibanez, but his work so far has been legit.

• Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish had two more hits Monday and continues to rake for the Triple-A club with 12 hits in his first 24 at-bats, three of them home runs. Sure, it's been only a week, but Kalish should force his way into Boston's outfield soon, probably at the expense of Scott Podsednik or Ryan Sweeney, or even Kevin Youkilis (with Adrian Gonzalez going back to first base). Kalish is capable of double-digit home runs and stolen bases in the big leagues.