The first day of the 2011 fantasy baseball season has finally arrived, and with it comes a bevy of last minute news reports you may want to know about before making your final roster selections.
I did a quick roundup covering all the major headlines from around the league, and will continue to do each week, so remember to keep checking back every Monday, and every Thursday for our who’s hot and who’s not column to follow.
Now without further ado, let’s get started.
Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants: According to John Shea on Twitter, the Giants like Brandon Belt as their Opening Day starter at first base which comes as huge news for fantasy owners.
Alex Pavlovic on Twitter has reported that Belt has indeed made the team, and will start for the Giants.
I did a more formal write up on Brandon Belt’s stock here.
If you already own him, then good for you, but if not, you may want to run out and scoop him up if you are lucky enough to find him on the wire.
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: The Phillies AND Utley have offered no timetable for the second baseman’s return, but news is Utley WILL NOT start the season on the 60 day disabled list, which is slightly good news.
Be that as it may, you’ll still need to have your backup second baseman in your lineup for the interim, with a possible backup to your backup.
Two players that come to mind off the wire are Colorado's Ty Wigginton, and Houston’s Bill Hall.
“Wiggy” is running with an average 37% ownership in most leagues, and qualifies at nearly every position on the freaking field. He’s in a much better hitter friendly place at Coors Field as well.
Bill Hall has been having a nice spring hitting .273 and is running with a much more attainable ownership percentage at 7%. he won't offer you as much power as Wigginton, but is a solid batter who can get on base.
Brad Lidge, Closer, Phillies: Sticking with the Phillies, closer Brad Lidge is out until at least June mucking everything up for owners—like myself—who already drafted him.
The good news is the Phillies plan on using Jose Contreras as their closer, who is virtually un-owned in most formats.
As a setup man—and even a closer—Contreras can utilize some of his deadly trademark pitches that made him so famous as a starter for the White Sox, so picking him up—especially with that starting rotation the Phils have—would be a very wise idea you can capitalize on.
Other Notable Roundups:
- Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday to see if his “tweaked side” is healthy enough to make his scheduled start next Wednesday against the Brew Crew.
- Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ will begin the season on the DL along with Giants closer Brian Wilson—both with oblique strains.
- Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos will also begin the season on the DL retroactive to March 22nd which raises some concerns since Latos already has a shaky past with his health.
- The A's have put closer Andrew Bailey on the 15 day DL retroactive to March 22nd. Bailey was playing catch and moving along, so his return should be right non track. Brain Fuentes will cover him in closing duties.
- Mets outfielder Jason Bay has been sent to New York for testing on his ribcage reports Anthony DiComo on Twitter. This could open the door for hard hitting Lucas Duda (.323 with 2 homers and three doubles in 31 AB this spring) so keep him on your watch list
A Sneak Peek At Opening Day:
Atlanta @ Washington: Livan Hernandez gets his fourth straight opening day start for the Nats, which is great news for the Braves hitters. I especially like Dan Uggla—no surprise there—and I’m interested to see what Jayson Werth does as a National. Derek Lowe gets the nod for the Braves
Detroit @ New York: Believe or not, you may want to sit Mark Teixeira for this matchup, and be sure to keep a close eye on him all month long.
Aside from Teixeira facing Carl Pavano, he has historically stunk in the month of April (.235 hitter in the first month of play, with a single homerun average about every 30 at bats).
The Tigers’ hitters should also have their hands full with C.C. Sabathia making for a lack-luster opening day game.
Milwaukee @ Cincinnati: Edinson Volquez will get the nod for the Reds opening day start, but does that mean you should give him the nod?
Volquez struggled heavily this spring compiling a 8.38 ERA in 9 and 2/3 innings this spring, and didn’t seem to have a handle on his command. The Brewers are a good hitting team, so I would sit Volquez this Thursday if I were you.
Los Angeles Angels @ Kansas City Royals: Both Jered Weaver (Angels) and Luke Hochevar (Royals) get the nod for their respective teams’ opening day starts, which could turn into a hitting free-for-all.
Vernon Wells and Billy Butler are the first two players to come to mind, but don’t forget about Melky Cabrera who took this spring by storm hitting .479 with two homeruns and 16 RBI over 48 AB.
San Diego Padres @ St. Louis Cardinals: With Mat Latos on the DL the starting day job will go to Tim Stauffer.
Stauffer is an interesting sleeper candidate to watch out of San Diego as he posted a 3.66 ERA and 14/3 K/BB ratio over 19 2/3 spring innings, and if he can take care of the hard hitting Cardinals on opening day, his stock will see an immediate spike.
San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers: The Champs return with Tim Lincecum on the mound, but Brian Wilson on the DL.
The Dodgers open their 2011 season with a bit of redemption on their minds after falling out of contention late last year.
Clayton Kershaw will get the nod for the Dodgers.
It’s going to be difficult for the Dodgers to do any sort of damage against Lincecum, even with that Giants patch-work outfield, so good luck if you have one of their hitters starting.
The same can be said for the Giants hitters, but they are bound to have more success in the later innings than L.A.
As always good luck, and if you have a specific question just leave it below for me and I’ll get right to it!