Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to The Knuckleball. This is a Fantasy Knuckleheads exclusive blog that will be updated nightly on the day's games. I'll go over important points of the games and the fantasy ramifications of said points. I'll get you all the big information that you might have missed. I mean, only a knucklehead would sit around watching baseball all day right?
First I'd like to say, when I turned on ESPN and saw the opening ceremonies for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals game, it brought a tear to my eye. Baseball season is truly the best time of year, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Now, let's dig in!
Nothing too surprising in this game. Roy Halladay dominated like his usual self, after getting off to a somewhat rough start. The Washington Nationals had pitching problems as usual. It was reported that the Nationals called up Stephen Strasburg in the middle of the third inning. The Phillies flaunted their potent offense while Washington struggled to produce runs.
Placido Polanco is the lone surprise for me. He went 3-5 with a homer and six (you heard me, six) RBI. Polanco might be getting old, but he can give you a little bit of everything when it comes to fantasy. Also, he'll be hitting in the homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park as opposed to Comerica Park. He's worth a test-drive in deep mixed leagues if you are hurting already for 3B (shame on you if you are!).
NY Mets 7
I admit myself, I thought that Johan Santana was going to have a rough start to the season. After-all, he looked less-than human in spring training. We've all heard this saying many times, but I might as well throw it out there once more: "It's just spring training".
Apparently Santana had been working on his change-up in spring training, and it just started to click for him. I'd argue that Santana's change-up is his best pitch, so if you take that away from his arsenal it's understandable why he struggled. I think all doubts about him have been put to rest after his gem of a game: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 ER and 5 K. This is a good start for Santana, but we all know that Santana is at his peak in the 2nd half. As he gets into form, we are going to see some games where he is much more dominating. Don't mess with the Johan.
David Wright got off to a great start hitting a dinger in the first. As I've said many times the past couple of months, last year was an aberration for Wright. Expect more of the same for the rest of the year concerning Wright. His power is real and he's out to prove it this year, trust me.
St. Louis 11
Albert Pujols started off the season with the line: 4-5, 3R, 4RBI, 2HR. No one is surprised. Colby Rasmus looked especially good today though. If today was any indication, he's going to have a breakout season. I just wish I drafted him in my fantasy league.
Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson look to share at-bats in center field. Stubbs looked like a great candidate to break out this year but if only starts four games each week, he's not going to be worth keeping. As of right now though, store him on your bench unless something in free agency really jumps out at you.
LA Dodgers 5
Vicente Padilla was not drafted in most leagues, so why did you pick him up to play for you this week? Are you desperate for wins? Did you think he was going to help your ERA? I see it all the time: People pick up pitchers just because they are two-starters. Vicente Padilla was not going to throw a gem today, so if you picked him up just because he is a two-starter this week you are greedy. Just let your team that you drafted play it out for a week at least...
I also want to throw a shout-out to my homie Garrett Jones. Why did no one believe him last year? What does a guy have to do around here to get some cred? Oh well, I got him in the 25th round in my league and I'm loving it. Jones for MVP! Jones for Presidente!
Shaun Marcum surprised me today with his no-hitter bid going into the seventh inning. He finished with 7 IP, 2H, 3ER, 1BB, 6K which are great, but he didn't get the win. He can thank Jason Frasor for that! Frasor took his miserable spring into the start of the season and blew the save. Now, I don't think Frasor is going to be pulled from his job just yet, but you have to own either Kevin Gregg or Scott Downs right now in all leagues. If Frasor blows one or two more saves in the next couple of weeks, there is no way he keeps that job.
Chi White Sox 6
Mark Buehrle pitched a gem for the White Sox today: 7IP, 3H, 0ER, 1BB, 3K. He also made one of the best plays I've seen in a long time. JJ Putz pitched well and looked to be 100% healthy. When If something happens to Bobby Jenks this season, I have a feeling they are going to give him the closer job, despite Matt Thornton pitching lights out last season. Thornton is one of the best 8th inning men in the game, so why mess that up?
What the hell Carlos Gomez?! I thought you'd be a menace on the base-paths, but now you are hitting home runs? I don't expect him to hit more than 10 HR this year, but it's nice to see him off to a good start considering he was one of my top breakouts of the year.
Franklin Morales recorded a save for the Colorado Rockies, but only after surrendering a run. I think Morales is a good pitcher, but I don't think he'll keep the job once Huston Street is healthy. Enjoy your cheap saves for another two or three weeks.
Kansas City 4
The pitchers duel of Zack Greinke vs. Justin Verlander was not as "duel-ish" as I thought. While Greinke pitched like it was 2009, Verlander got off to a rough start. Neither of them got the win sadly. Nothing to worry about with either pitcher though, they are just fine and probably still working out minor adjustments to find their form.
Chi Cubs 5
Oh my, this game could use a blog of it's own. There was a lot of action in this game, and it was a blast watching it all.
In Jason Hayward's first official at-bat in his career, he hit a three run bomb. After the game, Heyward reported to find the solution to world hunger. I'm still a little skeptical that Heyward is just going have Pujols type numbers this early in his career, but a line along the form of .280-20-80-80-10 isn't crazy. Heyward is taking his first trip around the league right now, and he's going to make pitchers adjust to his swing. All top-shelf talents see success on their first trip around the league, but pitchers make adjustments. I see him doing well for the month and then taking some time to adjust. He'll simmer down soon...but in the mean time you can sell high on him! Wait til the end of the week to see what he does, and if he continues to tear it up I'd ask for 4th-8th round talent in a 1-on-1 straight up trade.
Carlos Zambrano had a really bad line, but if you watched the game you saw how unlucky he was. Reports this spring were that he came into camp in great shape and ready to show a new side of himself. I still have a lot of faith in him and I think he'll right the ship in his next start. This game from Zambrano is a great way for me to illustrate one of the biggest no-no's of fantasy baseball. Guys like Zambrano are always going to have good stats as long as they are healthy. DO NOT dump Zambrano just because of his first game of the year. This is what we call the "knee-jerk reaction". You have to fight the knee-jerk reaction right now. I know those 8 ER really hurt you, but you'll recover. If you have Zambrano, just bench him until he has a good start. If you don't have Zambrano, you might be able to steal him away from a prematurely panicky owner.
San Diego 3
Dan Haren is back to pitching like his first-half self, with a final line of 7IP, 3H, 1ER, 0BB and 4K. If you have Haren...just please trade him before the All-Star break. Please.
It's worth noting that Stephen Drew hit an inside-the-park homer in his 2010 debut. Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about Drew's blazing speed? Well there it is for you folks, Drew has a set of wheels attached to those legs.
San Francisco 5
Both Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt looked great in their season debuts, except Oswalt gave up three runs before he started looking good. The Freak pitched like an ace and Brian Wilson came in for the save. Not much else to see here.
LA Angels 6
Scott Baker had such a great spring, so it was a little concerning to see his final stats of the night: 4.2IP, 4ER, 3BB, 3K. After watching the game, I think Baker was just worked up, and there is nothing to be worried about. Now that he has his first game of the season out of the way, I think he'll start to straighten things out. Remember, last year he started 0-4 before going 15-5 the rest of the year. He could just be a slow starter.
Fernando Rodney had trouble finding the plate at all in his one inning of work. I thought he looked completely lost, and if he keeps this up he won't be pitching in the 8th inning for very much longer. He threw four balls in a row for his first hitter, then got lucky with some defense behind him to close the inning out. I'm pretty sure more pitches of his tonight hit the dirt than hitting the catcher's glove. Be careful here.
Looking at the Oakland lineup, I have to say they have the worst hitters top-to-bottom in all of baseball. They are going to be a great matchup for opposing pitchers. Anyone pitching against Oakland is worth starting.
Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins started the season off with a bang by combining for three stolen bases. I think Seattle knows they don't have a lot of power in the middle of their lineup, so Ichiro and Figgins are going to be running rampant on the base-paths to create runs all year. I wouldn't be surprised to see them both end the year with 40 SB.
Felix Hernandez had a very strange outting with six walks and only four strikeouts, but he was just a little off on all his pitches. As the season progresses he will find his form, so there is nothing to worry about here.