Projected Starters - A look at Friday's matchups (all times Eastern):
Astros (Brett Myers - R) at Phillies (Roy Halladay - R), 1:05
Pirates (Kevin Correia - R) at Cubs (Ryan Dempster - R), 2:20
White Sox (Mark Buehrle - R) at Indians (Fausto Carmona - R), 3:05
Red Sox (Jon Lester - L) at Rangers (C.J. Wilson - L), 4:05
Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy - R) at Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez - R), 4:10
Twins (Carl Pavano - R) at Blue Jays (Ricky Romero - L), 7:07
Mets (Mike Pelfrey - R) at Marlins (Josh Johnson - R), 7:10
Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie - R) at Rays (David Price - L), 7:10
Angels (Dan Haren - R) at Royals (Jeff Francis - L), 8:10
Mariners (Felix Hernandez - R) at Athletics (Trevor Cahill - R), 10:05
Giants (Jonathan Sanchez - L) at Dodgers (Chad Billinglsey - R), 10:10
Day Game After a Night Game: None
Injuries - A brief look at players that have been missing time with minor ailments and their expected returns.
Day-to-Day (includes players expected to make their return from the DL)
Stephen Drew, SS, ARI -- (Abdomen) Unlikely to play Friday, doesn't seem overly optimistic about short-term availability.
Curtis Granderson, CF, NYY - (Oblique) Started in center field Thursday and went 1-for-3 with a solo homer.
Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN - (Concussion) Will be in the Twins' Opening Day lineup Friday.
A.J. Burnett, SP, NYY - (Illness) At risk to miss Saturday's scheduled start.
Jair Jurrjens, SP, ATL - (Ribs) Felt good after a brief bullpen session Thursday. Targeting Wednesday start against MIL.
James McDonald, SP, PIT - (Oblique) Threw 69 pitches without incident Thursday and expects to start Apr. 5 against STL.
J.A. Happ, SP, HOU - (Oblique) Played catch and reported improvement after Wednesday workouts.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, CHW - (Back) Did not play against White Sox's High-A affiliate Wednesday.
Barry Zito, SP, SFG - (Neck) X-rays negative after he was involved in a car accident. Expected to start Sunday.
Carlos Beltran, OF, NYM - (Knees) Set to receive a day or two off each week for preventative maintenance.
Justin Duchscherer, SP, BAL - (Hip) Suffered a mild setback while throwing Wednesday.
Players on the DL
Brian Wilson, RP, SFG - (Oblique) Felt good after Thursday's bullpen session and could be activated Wednesday.
Zack Greinke, SP, MIL - (Ribs) Could miss all of April starts.
Mat Latos, SP, SD - (Shoulder) Felt good after Thursday's side session and will throw in the bullpen Saturday.
Clint Barmes, 2B/SS, HOU - (Hand) May be back in the lineup in 3-4 weeks rather than previous 4-6 estimate.
Octavio Dotel, RP, TOR - (Hamstring) Needs a few more outings before getting activated from the DL.
Trevor Crowe, OF, CLE - (Shoulder) Had surgery Wednesday and will likely miss four months.
Transactions - Players that have been demoted, called up, traded, released, you name it. We'll cover it here.
Brandon Belt, 1B, SFG
Hideki Okajima, RP, BOS
Alfredo Aceves, P, BOS
Michael McKenry, C, BOS
John Lindsey, 1B, LA (DFA)
Travis Ishikawa, 1B, SFG (DFA)
Ryan Rowland-Smith, P, HOU (DFA)
Ramon Aguero, RP, PIT (DFA)
Placed on DL (15-day unless otherwise noted)
Scott Olsen, SP, PIT
Scott Feldman, SP, TEX
Brandon Webb, SP, TEX
Tommy Hunter, SP, TEX
Omar Beltre, RP, TEX
Clint Barmes, 2B, HOU
Jeff Keppinger, 2B, HOU
Alberto Arias, RP, HOU
Cody Ross, OF, SFG
Chris Snyder, C, PIT
Brad Lincoln, SP, PIT
Aaron Cook, SP, COL
Jason Bay, OF, NYM
Johan Santana, SP, NYM
Felix Doubront, SP, BOS
J.P. Howell, RP, TAM
Jose Ascanio, RP, PIT
Activated from DL
Closer Watch - A closer look at intriguing ninth-inning situations (check out our Closer Grid with the link to the left).
Milwaukee - John Axford gave up four runs on two hits - including a walk-off home run to Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez in an Opening Day loss to the Reds. Takashi Saito, who pitched a scoreless eighth, would seemingly be the first in line to get save chances if Axford struggles to repeat his 2010 success this season. In Axford's defense, the Brewers failed to get an out on a routine grounder to third with runners on first and second. Hernandez went on to hit the game-winning blast with two outs.
St. Louis - Ryan Franklin allowed a game-tying solo homer to Cameron Maybin with two outs in the ninth inning. One blown save won't cost him the trust of manager Tony La Russa, but fantasy owners have been speculating on a Franklin demotion for a couple of seasons now. Jason Motte appears to be the best short-term solution to get a chance, while Mitchell Boggs could enter the mix as well if Franklin eventually pitches his way out of the job. Looking deeper, Fernando Salas (currently at Triple-A) might be a factor in the Cards' late-inning plans eventually after handling the closer role at Triple-A last season before his promotion to St. Louis.
Atlanta - Craig Kimbrel pitched a clean ninth for his first save of the season while Jonny Venters worked a scoreless eighth for the Braves.
Brett Myers at PHI - Getting an Opening Day nod against his former club, Myers presents an interesting risk for fantasy owners in leagues with daily lineup changes. Since he's spent the majority of his career in Philadelphia, his former teammates haven't had many chances to hit against him and have a .613 combined OPS over 92 plate appearances. Myers struggled during spring training and is opposing Roy Halladay, which certainly makes it more difficult for the Houston offense to generate run support. Tread carefully here.
Roy Halladay v. HOU - If Astros hitters had a combined 1.000 OPS against Doc, would it even matter to you? They don't, and the only Astro with more than 10 plate appearances against him is Carlos Lee (28). Lee has actually handled Halladay well throughout his career, going 7-for-26 with three homers (.975 OPS). Beyond that, there's not much data to get excited about here.
Kevin Correia at CHC - The Cubs haven't seen much of a Correia, but their limited meetings have certainly favored the right -hander thus far as he's held them to a combined .572 OPS (73 PA). Considering the regression he went through last season with the Padres, take a wait-and-see approach before considering him as an active lineup option, even in deeper formats.
Ryan Dempster v. PIT - The damage the Bucs have done against Dempster (.881 OPS) hasn't come from the contributors you might expect, and while the Pirates are still a rebuilding project through most lenses, they may be able to generate some offense Friday afternoon in Chicago. Both as a starter and a reliever, Dempster has a seen plenty of action against the Pirates while carrying a career 6-10 record with a 104:62 K:BB in 140.2 IP (5.63 ERA) against them. You'll have to roll with him in most formats, but temper the expectations.
Mark Buehrle at CLE - Enjoy watching Buehrle's highlight-reel between the legs flip to Paul Konerko while it continues to roll over the next 24 hours. He'll have a difficult time matching that, but do you want to start him? In shallow leagues, the lean might actually be to bench him. Buehrle is just 13-15 over 42 starts against Cleveland while carrying a 4.64 ERA. Further, current members of the Tribe have combined for a .276/.345/.414 line against him. If you're on the bubble about playing Asdrubal Cabrera (.523) or Matt LaPorta (.485) in a daily league Friday, you'd be wise to sit them down.
Fausto Carmona v. CHW - I'll admit that I've generally steered away from Carmona in all of my leagues for the last couple of seasons. That hasn't changed, but he's fared well against the White Sox (combined .683 OPS) other than Paul Konerko (4-for-11, 2 HR) and Mark Teahen (.871 OPS in 35 PA). Teahen may not even be in the White Sox's lineup, so Carmona looks like a nice play considering that he's at home and not forced to face this potent group at U.S. Cellular Field.
Jon Lester at TEX - Is any pitcher really a good matchup on the road against the Rangers? You have to start Lester regardless, but the Texas lineup has hit him pretty well in their opportunities with a combined .302/.347/.466 line against him. Michael Young is a good roll if you're in a shallow league where sitting him would be considered (1.049 OPS, 25 PA).
C.J. Wilson v. BOS - Need someone to ease your concern about rolling Wilson on Friday? He's held the Red Sox to a combined .463 OPS in a limited sample (82 PA). Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are the only Boston regulars to muster an OPS over .550 against him.
Ian Kennedy at COL - League context is important, but Kennedy looks like one to sit on the road at Coors Field on Friday. Four of the five Rockies regulars have an .850 OPS or better against him, and that actually becomes five of six if Ian Stewart is healthy enough to start. To make matters worse, he's opposing Ubaldo Jimenez and the D-Backs' lineup could have a very difficult time putting runs on the board in this one.
Ubaldo Jimenez v. ARI - In what could be the most dominant pitcher v. hitter matchup of the day, Jimenez faces Arizona outfielder Chris Young on Friday. Young is just 7-for-38 (.481 OPS) with a 3:16 BB:K ratio against Jimenez in his career. Stephen Drew has handled Jimenez well, but he's questionable to play in the opener and it could be a very long day at the plate for the D-Backs to begin 2011.
Carl Pavano at TOR - Your plan better be to stream Pavano for his home starts. The Jays have a combined .986 OPS against him over 118 plate appearances. Of the regulars with more than a handful of at-bats against him, only Jose Bautista (1-for-11, 4 K) hasn't crushed him (.258 OPS). Look for a big day from the Toronto offense.
Ricky Romero v. MIN - The Twins haven't seen much of Romero yet, but the limited work has been good for the Minnesota offense. Michael Cuddyer (1-for-9, 4 K) is probably best left to the bench, but otherwise there's no reason to consider holding back your Twins against the Jays' ace on Friday.
Mike Pelfrey at FLA - The Marlins' offense his a combined .305 average against Pelfrey over 127 plate appearances, but he hasn't been too bad overall thanks to a modest .339 OBP and .432 SLG. Perhaps Florida should give Greg Dobbs the nod at third base Friday, as he's 7-for-17 (.412) with a homer and three RBI. Otherwise, no overwhelming performances (good or bad) to note.
Josh Johnson v. NYM - Johnson owns the Mets (.634 OPS). Willie Harris and Jason Bay have had some success against him, but Bay is on the DL and there's no guarantee Harris gets a chance Friday. Even the Mets' Big 3 have a combined 14-for-71 against him with 15 strikeouts.
Jeremy Guthrie at TAM - It's a tough Opening Day assignment for Guthrie, but he's held his own against the Rays' lineup in his career (.793 OPS). As far as individual matchups go, none of the Rays should be benched as even those with weaker numbers against Guthrie haven't been terrible. On the positive side, Manny Ramirez (1.080 OPS) and Reid Brignac (5-for-11) should be active if you were on the fence about them.
David Price v. BAL - Price is a must start any time he takes the ball, but Friday's matchups should lead you to consider him in daily contests as well. With a .627 OPS against Baltimore hitters, only Nick Markakis and Vlad Guerrero have an OPS above .700 against him with 10-plus PA. If you're considering Adam Jones (.523 OPS) and Luke Scott (.533 OPS) for your daily lineup, you should consider the alternatives as they've both struggled against Price to this point.
Dan Haren at KAN - Everyone is going to pick on the Royals this season, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it when your starting pitchers get to face them. Haren should roll Friday, as he enters the start with a .212/.243/.258 line against Kansas City hitters in 71 plate appearances.
Jeff Francis v. LAA - Not much to go by here, as the Angels' hitters have just 35 plate appearances against Francis. The limited matchups have favored the left-hander, however, as those opportunities have yielded a meager .247 OPS. It's just not enough to draw a significant conclusion, but it could provide Royals' fans with a sliver of hope as their lineup is likely to be carved up by Haren.
Felix Hernandez at OAK - A nice late-night pitching up in this one with the defending AL Cy Young winner taking the ball for Seattle. As you would expect, seeing a lot of Hernandez hasn't been great for A's hitters, as they've managed a .695 OPS in 231 PA. On the fringe to consider, David DeJesus has a 1.028 OPS against King Felix, but otherwise you'll want to lean more toward benching the likes of Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington, Coco Crisp and Ryan Sweeney as all four players have an OPS of .607 or lower against Hernandez.
Trevor Cahill v. SEA - Mariners fans better get used to Cahill as he's going to be a division foe for quite some time. He's held the Mariners to a .586 OPS in just 51 plate appearances, with the success coming exclusively from Ichiro. Other than that, there's nothing here that should prevent you from considering that alternatives for your lineup.
Jonathan Sanchez at LAD - With a 47:13 K:BB in 146 at-bats against the Dodgers, Sanchez has been very tough on his biggest division rival to this point. The slash line isn't pretty - .205/.282/.377 and outside of Matt Kemp and Rafael Furcal, none of the Dodgers you'd consider for you lineup make for a great play Friday.
Chad Billingsley v. SFG - The second game of the Dodgers/Giants series won't disappoint those interested in good pitching. Billingsley has held the Giants to a .703 OPS and most of their hitters with a decent track record against him aren't a part of the lineup plans (or the roster) for Friday. Count me among those who believe Pablo Sandoval will have a bounce back season, but Billinglsey has been his Kryptonite to this point by holding to a .392 OPS over 29 PA.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, SD - Sure, playing home games at Petco Park and in a Padres offense that will struggle to score runs isn't ideal, but keep in mind that Petco is much worst for left-handed hitters than righties. Further, Ludwick is going to stick near the heart of the order all season for the Padres, which translates to plenty of RBI chances. He won't ever hit 37 homers in a season again - heck, he probably won't hit 27, but another 20-plus along with a boatload of runs driven in will play in most formats, especially since he'll provide something in the .260-.270 window for a batting average.
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