Can it get any better than this?
Easter Sunday. Beautiful weather over much of the United States. Signs of spring are everywhere. Family and friends will celebrate all day during one of the biggest holidays of the year.
And tonight, another holiday of sorts. Major League baseball 2010 is finally here. Tuck the kids in early, grab a bag of Doritos and tune in for a potential fistfight of an opening game: Yankees vs. Red Sox.
But let’s take a step backwards for a moment. You didn’t put all that sweat and number-crunching into you draft planning to miss out on the first week of scoring opportunities. In most leagues, including those through ESPN, weekly rosters must be completed before Josh Beckett takes the mound.
Let’s look at a few things to expect this week:
First, to get maximum stats from your pitchers, it is usually a good idea to note which moundsmen will get two starts this week. Being the opening week, that typically means that each team’s stud pitcher will be seeing double duty this week, so be sure to activate all your front-line pitchers.
At the moment, these are the pitchers projected to make their first start either Sunday night or Monday, and short of an injury, should be shoo-ins for twice the outings this week than your other hurlers.
Josh Beckett, Mark Buerhle, Jake Westbrook, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Jered Weaver, Scott Baker, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Felix Hernandez, Scott Feldman, Shaun Marcum, Dan Haren, Derek Lowe, Carlos Zambrano, Aaron Harang, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Roy Oswalt, Vicente Padilla, Yovani Gallardo, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Zach Duke, Chris Carpenter, Jon Garland, Tim Lincecum and John Lannan.
Several Tuesday starters also, at the moment, look like potential two-start pitchers this week. They include Kevin Millwood, Joe Saunders, Nick Blackburn, AJ Burnett, Dallas Braden, Ian Snell, James Shields, Edwin Jackson and Randy Wolf.
Matchups to exploit?
Good hitters typically produce regardless of their surroundings and who they’re up against, but for fringe players, it sometimes is worth noting which teams face easier overall pitching.
The Mets, for instance, open their season hosting the Marlins followed by the Nationals. For a team that struggled so badly last season, you can’t ask for a better way to open the 2010 season. Will that make a difference in your individual Mets players’ stats? Probably not, but worth noting.
The Diamondbacks another team in a good opening week position. They have two home stands … against the Padres to start things off and then the Pirates. Two teams known for overall futility.
The Tigers should also be included in this discussion. They open at Kansas City and then host the Indians. Fantasy managers who have Tigers in their lineups can lick their chops a little more than normal.
It is always worth noting injuries before setting lineups in leagues where you only set them once per week. You’ll see an update very shortly from ep that will cover a larger gamut of player movements, injuries and last-minute roster decisions, but here are a few updates to whet your whistle:
Jack Cust: Some deeper fantasyleague owners added him for some late power. However, the Athletics designated him for assignment.
Gio Gonzalez: Need some pitching help in deep leagues? Gonzalez had a great spring and was rewarded with the A’s fifth spot in their rotation.
Alex Gordon: As expected, the Royals placed him on the DL, but the 15-day stint was retroactive and he could be available to play as early as next weekend. It is more realistic to expect a return later in April.
John Bowker: There is little denying Bowker’s power potential … it was a matter of how much playing time he received. After blasting his sixth homer of the spring, it looks as though he will have the inside shot at the Giants’ right field gig, and is worth at least a bench spot in deeper leagues.
Jose Reyes: Played all nine innings of an intrasquad game Saturday, and continues to look like he will be ready to contribute as soon as he comes off the DL, which should be this coming Saturday.
Ian Kinsler: At this point it was a mere formality that Kinsler would start the season on the DL. The nerve-wracking thing for people who drafted him as their starting second baseman is that he has still not resumed running or agility-based drills, and could be out for several weeks if he continues to not advance.