RotoWire Partners

FAAB Factor - NL: Relievers Turned Starters

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

Starting Pitching:

Brandon Beachy - Beachy was named Atlanta's fifth starter with Mike Minor getting optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Beachy showed stellar control and strikeout potential in Double-A Mississippi, posting a 1.45 ERA and 100:22 K:BB ratio in 74.1 innings. He then looked even better at Triple-A, even if it was just seven starts (48:6 K:BB ratio in 45.2 innings). After his Triple-A season ended, Beachy was a surprise call up when an emergency starter was needed and had a strong debut in three big league starts (15 strikeouts in 15 innings) and was even included on the postseason roster. He should be targeted as a late-round sleeper given the team around him and how he has progressed up the ladder since moving from a reliever to starter. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Andrew Cashner - Cashner, a former No. 1 pick by Chicago, earned the Cubs' fifth starter spot. Because he never thrown more than 111.1 innings in a season, Chicago will monitor his workload, so don't expect him to see too much more than 150-175 innings this year. When he is on, Cashner can reach 98 mph with his fastball and features a sharp-breaking slider and a solid changeup. Cashner's still a little unpolished, but he throws hard and was not overmatched as a rookie last year; he should be able to handle the fifth spot. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Barry Enright/Armando Galarraga - Enright and Galarraga earned the final two spots in the Arizona rotation with Zach Duke landing on the disabled list. Enright had a solid rookie year, though his numbers were boosted by an extremely low .251 BABIP. The underlying numbers here scream regression, especially when you consider his issues with the long ball (20 allowed in 99 innings) and the inability to make hitters swing and miss (4.45 K/9IP). In addition, his massive September swoon has to raise major red flags. Galarraga, who had a horrific spring, surprisingly defeated Aaron Heilman to earn the D-Backs' final rotation spot. Galarraga has more recent experience as a starter and the D-Backs seem to have a higher level of comfort with Heilman working out of their bullpen. Once Duke returns, I could see either starter getting bumped - it will depend on which one is pitching worse at the moment. Both - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Nelson Figueroa - Figueroa did not have a good spring but still was named as the Astros' fifth starter. Figueroa has bounced up-and-down between the minors and may be better served in relief. Pitching in Minute Maid Park is not the best for a starter, let along one with average stuff. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tom Gorzelanny - Gorzelanny, who the Nationals acquired in January from Chicago, earned the fifth starter spot for Washington. Gorzelanny made 29 appearances with the Cubs last season, 23 of them starts. In those games, he went 7-9 with a 4.22 ERA and 112:62 K:BB ratio in 130 IP. Gorzelanny features a 90 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup, modest stuff, despite his 7.9 K/9IP rate. He will make his first start April 9 against the Mets as he is being skipped in the rotation the first time around, because the Nationals have three days off during that time. Gorzelanny should be able to hold on to his rotation spot with Chien-Ming Wang out until at least the end of May and Stephen Strasburg still recovering from TJS. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Mike Leake - With Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto both going on the DL to start the season, Leake will begin the season as the Reds' fourth starter. This after it looked like Leake was going to be beaten out of a rotation spot by Bailey and Travis Wood. Leake did not have a particularly good spring training, which comes on the heels of him posting a 6.91 ERA in the second half last season. His drop-off can in part be attributed to fatigue, having never pitched as many innings as he did in his rookie season after bypassing the minors, and in part because he was overachieving to begin with. With Cueto missing at least two weeks and Bailey possibly a month, Leake will get a chance to prove he should stay with the parent club. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Sam LeCure - LeCure benefits from the injury to Bailey and take his spot in the Reds' Opening Day rotation. Though LeCure will be the fifth starter to begin the season, the earliest the Reds will use him as a starter will be April 9. Until then, he will pitch in middle relief. Don't expect his stint in the Cincinnati to be long-lived. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Kyle McClellan - The season-ending elbow injury to Adam Wainwright opened a huge hole in the Cardinals' rotation; one that McClellan will attempt to fill. McClellan was probably the Cards' best reliever last season, and he owes it at least partially to shaving nearly two walks per nine innings off his walk rate. Of course, the .243 BABIP and 86.1 percent strand rate are likely not repeatable. McClellan made the most his chance this spring, going 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA, which should not go unnoticed, especially since he'll likely be in the rotation all year. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
 
Mike Minor - Minor, who lost out in his battle with Brandon Beachy for the Braves' fifth starter spot, will be called up to start Wednesday against Milwaukee with Jair Jurrjens landing on the DL due to a strained oblique muscle. Minor, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, began last season at Double-A and ended the season in Atlanta's rotation. After dominating at Double-A (11.3 K/9IP with strong control), he had a 1.89 ERA with a 37:12 K:BB ratio in 33.1 innings at Triple-A and was called up to Atlanta in early August. After pitching well early on, he struggled and was then removed from the rotation. Minor will make two starts while Jurrjens is sidelined and then head back to Triple-A Gwinnett. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Charlie Morton - Morton pitched well this spring, as he did a year ago, when he went on to compile the worst earned run average (7.57) of all major league starters. He added a slider, reincorporated a sinker and tweaked his delivery in an effort to remain in Pittsburgh's starting rotation for 2011. A turnaround seems hard to imagine, but stranger things have happened, though this one would be pretty shocking. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Sergio Mitre - Mitre, who the Brewers acquired from the Yankees for Chris Dickerson, is expected to fill a long-relief role. However, while Zach Greinke is out with his broken rib, it's possible that Mitre could start in his stead if either Marco Estrada is skipped or Mark Rogers is not sufficiently recovered to make the April 16 start, which is Milwaukee would next need a fifth starter. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Esmil Rogers - With John Maine going to Triple-A in his bid to return from shoulder surgery, Rogers will get the first crack at taking the ball every fifth day while Aaron Cook (finger) is on the DL. In the minors he posted a 5.75 ERA and 53:19 K:BB mark through 61 innings, predominately as a starter. In the majors he had a 6.13 ERA and a 66:26 K:BB rate through 72 innings, though he was hurt by a .394 BABIP. As a reliever, he was able to achieve a 9.9 K/9IP strikeout rate, showing that he may have a future in that role. He has a fastball, curveball and changeup, but in 2010 he debuted a slider that produced good results. If Rogers has a good first six weeks, he could permanently take Cook's spot in the rotation; if not, he will transition back to his 2010 role. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Chris Young/Chris Capuano - Chris-squared earned the final two spots in the Mets rotation with Young as the four and Capuano as the five. Young finished the spring with a 1.78 ERA over 25.1 innings. He allowed 18 hits and had a less-than-stellar 13:7 K:BB ratio but showed no signs of the shoulder injury that cost him most of 2010 and could thrive moving to another pitchers park. Capuano finished the spring with a 1.93 ERA and 13:4 K:BB ratio in 18.2 innings. He made a remarkable comeback from a second Tommy John surgery and actually pitched decent for the Brewers last year. Nearly all of his rate stats were similar to before his pre-surgery marks, though he did get a little lucky with his strand rate. Capuano breaks camp as the fifth starter, but will be skipped over due to off-days in the first turn around the rotation, so he won't make his first regular season start for the Mets until April 9 and also could post nice numbers at Citi Field. Young - Mixed: $4; NL: $11; Capuano - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Relief Pitchers:

Sean Burnett - Burnett pitched the final 1.1 innings Saturday to pick up his first save of the season. Drew Storen's spring struggles opened the door for manager Jim Riggleman to start the season with a closer-by-committee with both Burnett and Storen seeing save opportunities. Tyler Clippard and Todd Coffey may also get the occasional save chance but Burnett and Storen appear to be at the top of the closer pecking order. Burnett had his second straight very good season in 2010, improving his K/9IP, BB/9IP and G/F rates while also holding righties to an ungodly .487 OPS, sterling stuff for righties let alone a lefty like Burnett is. The expectation is that Storen will at some point assume the role of the main closer, especially since Burnett is a southpaw, but for now, Riggleman seems content to go with a platoon and hot hand, so Burnett should get his share of save chances. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Jose Contreras/Ryan Madson - With Brad Lidge sidelined again, this time with a posterior rotator cuff strain that could sideline him until June, Contreras will get the first crack at filling the role of Phillies' closer. Manager Charlie Manuel said Contreras earned the opportunity over Madson due to his performance this spring. Last season, Contreras had a solid season, rebounding form a rough patch to finish strong. He was successful in relief thanks to a slight uptick in his velocity now that he can go all out, and his starter's arsenal of pitches that includes a nasty splitter. Madson began last season as the Phillies' closer while Lidge was out. Madson picked up five saves before breaking his toe when he foolishly kicked a chair after a poor outing. When he came back around the All-Star break, Manuel leaned heavily on Madson, who settled back into his eighth-inning setup gig. If Contreras falters, Madson has shown he can do the job, but for now, he will set up Contreras. Contreras - Mixed: $5; NL: $14; Madson - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters - I open the season the same manner in which I closed it, discussing Kimbrel and Venters. What I wrote last year: "... with Billy Wagner set to retire after the year and Takahashi Saito possibly not back, Kimbrel and Venters figure to be at the top of the list to close for the Braves in 2011..." has in fact come true. Manager Fredi Gonzalez originally said he'd split closing duties between Kimbrel and Venters, but with Kimbrel a righty and Venters a lefty, speculation was that Kimbrel might have a slight edge on earning the role. On Thursday, that's exactly how it worked out as it was Venters in the 8th inning, retiring three righty hitters, and Kimbrel getting the save. Gonzalez has already changed his mind and announced that Kimbrel will be the primary closer with Venters seeing the occasional save chance. Kimbrel - Mixed: $8; NL: $19. Venters - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Wilton Lopez - After a rough pro debut in 2009, Lopez was dazzling in 2010, highlighted by a 50:5 K:BB ratio and 2.05 GB:FB. He figures to play a more prominent role in the Astros' bullpen this year, and depending how Brandon Lyon shapes up, Lopez could even sneak in a few saves. The first chink in Lyon's armor in 2011 came on Opening Day as he was strafed in the ninth inning while only hitting 89 mph on the gun. A switch is not imminent, but if Lyon continues to struggle, Lopez could step in and close. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Sergio Romo/Jeremy Affeldt/Javier Lopez - With Brian Wilson sidelined by a strained oblique to start the year, Romo, Affeldt and Lopez all are in line to get saves. Romo was fantastic in 2010, posting a 2.18 ERA and 0.968 WHIP with a 5.0 K/BB ratio. When Wilson returns, Romo still will have some value due to his fine numbers and strikeouts as well as holds for leagues that count them. Affeldt or Lopez could be used if a lefty needs to be retired. Wilson will have a simulated game Sunday and could be activated when eligible Wednesday. Romo - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Affeldt and Lopez - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Catchers:

Ryan Doumit - With Chris Snyder opening the year on the DL due to back soreness, Doumit will receive more playing time early on than previously expected. Ultimately, he's a player whom the Pirates are looking to unload via trade due to his $5.1 million salary, so perhaps being forced to showcase him will help that wish come true, if Doumit gets off to a good start at the plate. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

George Kottaras/Wil Nieves - Manager Ron Roenicke has said that Nieves will get most of the starts at catcher while Jonathan Lucroy is out with a broken finger, not George Kottaras. It looks like Roenicke favors the defense of Nieves to Kottaras. Neither catcher is great offensively and Lucroy may be back by the second week of April, so don't spend much on either. Kottaras - Mixed and NL: No; Nieves - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Humberto Quintero/J.R. Towles - Quintero and J.R. Towles will share catching duties for Houston when the season starts with Jason Castro out for the year. Quintero is not suited for full-time duty and the time-share will give the Astros a chance to evaluate Towles, who is dealing with a bad back, without stretching Quintero past his capabilities. Neither catcher is a particularly viable option, but figure Quintero gets more time early on with Towles earning more action as the season goes on. Quintero - Mixed: No; NL: $0. Towles - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
 
First Basemen:

Brandon Belt - Belt parlayed a big spring and injury to Cody Ross into opening the season with the Giants. Belt is starting at first base, while Aubrey Huff, the normal starter at that position, moved to right field with Ross out. Belt, taken in the fifth round in the 2009 draft, hit .352/.455/.620 with a 93:99 BB:K ratio throughout the minors last season, including holding his own at Triple-A (.956 OPS) at age 22. The left-hander has more gap power than 40-homer potential, but that will play just fine at AT&T Park. Belt will still have to get off to a good start in order to keep his roster and lineup spot once Ross returns from the DL later in April and took a good step in that direction by hitting his first career home run Friday. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.

Russell Branyan/Juan Miranda - Miranda, who was thought to be the favorite to earn the starting first base job when Arizona acquired him from the Yankees in November, will start on Opening Day but has likely lost that role to Branyan. Miranda has a good eye and some power while Branyan has a higher power potential, which could play well at Chase Field. To start the year, Branyan will get a chance to carve out a bigger role, but if he fails to hit, Miranda is there to usurp the starting role. Branyan - Mixed: $4; NL: $13; Miranda - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Daniel Murphy - After missing almost all of 2010 with injuries, Murphy made the Mets out of spring training. He is ticketed for a utility role as he can play first and third as well as second base and could see the occasional game in the outfield. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Second Base:

Jeff Baker/Darwin Barney/Blake DeWitt - Barney started the first game of the season, though manager Mike Quade seemed to imply that he and Baker might work in some type of platoon this year. "(Barney) and Baker had great camps. I think they both earned a chance to play," Quade said. "Barring something crazy, 'Bake' will play against the left-hander the second day." Blake DeWitt remains a candidate for playing time at second base as well. While Barney may get the bulk of the starts initially, the time-share will hurt his value, which wasn't all that high to begin with thanks to his lack of power and plate discipline and he projects as more a utility player. Baker has more power potential while DeWitt is younger and has some on-base skills. Baker - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Barney - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; DeWitt - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jamey Carroll - Carroll got the Opening Day start at second base with Casey Blake out and Juan Uribe starting at third base. Once Blake returns from his ribs and back injury, Uribe will shift over to second and Blake will resume his starting role at third base. Ivan DeJesus and Aaron Miles will also se time at second in their role as backup infielders. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Brad Emaus - Emaus beat out Luis Castillo, Justin Turner, Daniel Murphy, Luis Hernandez and Chin-Lung Hu to earn the Mets' starting second base job. Granted, that's not a tremendous cast of characters and Emaus was aided by being a Rule 5 pick, but still he earned the job. After a big 2008, Emaus took a step back in 2009 before exploding last season at both Double- and Triple-A. He has excellent strike zone judgment and at least gap power, but lacks speed and range on defense. If Emaus can show similar offensive skills and be passable on D, the Mets will run him out there almost every day. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Jon Herrera - Herrera is expected to be in the mix for playing time at second base with Jose Lopez this season, and Eric Young Jr. could eventually become a factor as well if he gets off to a fast start at Triple-A. Lopez will get every chance to hold the role, though there is some speculation that he may be on the block. Herrera doesn't offer much power or speed, but is decent defensively, but even if he gets the job, he will always be looking over his shoulder. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Wilson Valdez/Michael Martinez/Pete Orr -With Chase Utley out for an underdetermined period of time, Valdez will open the year as the Phillies' starting second baseman. Valdez doesn't offer a lot with the bat but he might swipe some bases. He's likely not going to play every day however. The Phillies are also carrying Pete Orr and Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez on their roster. Both can play second base and could steal at-bats from Valdez. Placido Polanco could also shift over from third base at times. Valdez - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Martinez - Mixed and NL: No; Orr - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Shortstops:

Erick Almonte - Almonte got the start against lefty Travis Wood Saturday, hitting a homer, and could see a few starts in right field against left-handed pitchers until Corey Hart (oblique) returns from the DL. Almonte made the team as a utility player and can play both the corner infield and corner outfield spots. Still, he probably won't see much playing time in the outfield will see even less once Hart returns in a few weeks. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Willie Bloomquist - Bloomquist got the Opening Day nod at shortstop for Arizona with Stephen Drew still nursing a strained oblique muscle. Drew is listed as day-to-day, but oblique injuries can be tricky, so Bloomquist could see a bit more action as Geoff Blum is on the DL and Tony Abreu was sent down. Check Bloomquist's eligibility as in most leagues, he may only qualify as an OF, having played about 20 only at that spot last season. Plus, even if he does play, unless he improves his OPS and starts to run again like he did prior to 2010, his value will be limited. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Matt Downs/Joe Inglett/Angel Sanchez - With Clint Barmes (hand) and Jeff Keppinger (toe) on the DL, Sanchez bat second and started at shortstop for the Astros in their opener against the Phillies on Friday. Sanchez doesn't offer much to fantasy owners other than the versatility required defensively to handle second base if needed and eventually earn position eligibility there if the Astros need help at the keystone later this season. Downs and Inglett provide the Astros with some depth while Barmes and Keppinger are out. Downs and Inglett - Mixed and NL: No, Sanchez - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Third Basemen:

Jorge Cantu - Padres GM Jed Hoyer said Cantu will play first base against lefties -- albeit not in a straight platoon -- and some third base. That sort of makes him the top corner reserve we were expecting, with Brad Hawpe and Chase Headley being the initial starters at those two spots. Cantu was a fantasy beast, as recently as 2009, but given the lack of starting status and the poor hitters' park, he may need an injury to have value in anything more than deep leagues. Mixed: No; NL: $4.

Juan Francisco - The injury to Fred Lewis opened up a spot for Francisco to make the Reds. Francisco may see time at third and in the outfield, so he could have some value in NL-only leagues. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Chipper Jones - Jones, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in August and underwent surgery, was in the lineup for Thursday's season opener against the Nationals. His durability and health will be something to monitor throughout 2011, but at least the soon-to-be 39-year-old entered the season with a clean bill of health. Jones slipped in many and wasn't selected in other shallower drafts and has started to regress, but if healthy, he still can post solid numbers from the hot corner. Mixed: $3; NL: $8.

Donnie Murphy - Murphy was the Opening Day starter for the Marlins at third base. There are two good reasons Murphy passed Emilio Bonifacio: he's a better defender at the hot corner, and the uncertainty around Chris Coghlan's fitness to play center field means the Marlins may need Bonifacio to fill in out there more often than they'd like. The Marlins may go outside the organization to get a third baseman and Matt Dominguez is down at Triple-A after flaming out this spring, but still the long-term answer at the hot corner, so Murphy may not hold the job for long. Plus, he left Saturday's game after being hit by a pitch, though for now, it's being called a right hand contusion. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
 
Outfielders:

Rick Ankiel/Jerry Hairston - Ankiel beat out Nyjer Morgan to begin the year as the Nationals' starting center fielder. Ankiel had another poor year in 2010, struggling again with injuries and plate discipline. However, he still showed he can hit righties - .801 OPS - and has some power, so he would benefit from a platoon situation. Hairston could be the other half of the platoon, starting against lefties, but no official word on that has been provided. That said expect Hairston to see time in center, left, second base and shortstop, giving him some value. Ankiel - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Hairston - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio lost out in his battle to win the Florida third base job to Donnie Murphy with Matt Dominguez getting sent down. Despite that, Bonifacio should see playing time at third as well as the occasional start at second and in the outfield. If Murphy's right wrist keeps him out after he was hit by a pitch Saturday, Bonifacio will see more action at third. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Allen Craig/Jon Jay - Craig and Jay expected to see some time in the Cardinals' outfield as Lance Berkman was unlikely to play 140+ games this season. Matt Holiday's appendectomy opened a hole in left field, with Craig and Jay expected to platoon there, though Holiday might be back in as little as two weeks, but more than likely will miss a month. Craig's the right-hander of the duo, so he'll probably see less time than Jay, though he has a higher upside. Craig did get the nod against left-hander Clayton Richard and drove in two of St. Louis' three runs, so it's possible that manager Tony LaRussa could continue to play Craig and hope he gets hot. Craig - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Jay - Mixed: $1; NL: $4;

Scott Cousins - Cousins won the Marlins' bench outfielder job with DeWayne Wise sent to minor league camp Tuesday. Cousins will primarily back up Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison in the outfield corners, but could see time in center field if Chris Coghlan proves to be a flop defensively. Cousins could see some action in the near term with Emilio Bonifacio possibly filling in at third base for Donnie Murphy, who suffered a right hand contusion when a pitch hit him Saturday, and if Stanton's tight hamstring worsens. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Mark DeRosa - DeRosa, who was limited to just 93 at-bats due to his second wrist surgery in as many years, signed a two-year deal to return to SF this offseason. He looks to be back to full strength entering the year and will likely to act as the team's super utility player, getting action mostly in left field, second base as well as third. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Matt Diaz - Diaz, who signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh this offseason, will split time in right with Garrett Jones but could see an occasional start in left when the team rests Andrew McCutchen or Jose Tabata. Diaz will see most of his action against lefties, against whom he has posted a career .907 OPS, but will play during the team's six-game road trip despite opponents starting six straight right-handed pitchers against the Pirates. Mixed: No; NL: $5.

Lucas Duda/Willie Harris/Scott Hairston - Duda had a breakout season in 2010, hitting a career-high 23 home runs between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo, with a .999 OPS in 264 at-bats for the latter affiliate. Despite those numbers, he was slated to begin 2011 in Triple-A until Jason Bay landed on the DL with a strained intercostal muscle. Now, Duda will likely get the bulk of the extra at-bats in left field while Bay is on the DL, and while Bay is out, when Carlos Beltran sits, Duda could see time in right with Harris and Hairston splitting time in left. Once Bay returns, Harris and Hairston will likely see most of the action in right and the Mets could return Duda to the minors. Duda - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Harris - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Hairston - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Ben Francisco/John Mayberry - Francisco was named the starting right fielder after having a nice spring and with Domonic Brown sidelined. He has the potential to provide some power and steals. Brown will be available in late April or early May so Francisco will have to keep hitting to keep Brown in the minors this year. Mayberry, who had the game-winning hit on Opening Day for the Phillies, will be used as a backup at all the outfield positions and at first base. He could see some starts against left-handed pitchers but probably won't work his way into any regular playing time unless Francisco really struggles. Francisco - Mixed: $3; NL: $11; Mayberry - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Carlos Gomez/Nyjer Morgan - Morgan wore out his welcome in Washington, landing in Milwaukee the Sunday before the season started. Despite his acquisition, Gomez is still the starting center fielder. If Gomez can show more plate discipline that he did last year, he should hang onto the job, though a slow start to year could prompt the Brewers to implement some sort of platoon. Even if Gomez plays well, Morgan should see time at all three outfield positions and get some steals as a bench player. Gomez - Mixed: $3; NL: $8; Morgan - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Tony Gwynn Jr./Jay Gibbons/Marcus Thames - Left field in LA is a three-headed monster. Gwynn got the Opening Day nod with Gibbons on the DL due to his eye problem and LA facing a righty. Thames is in position to start in left against left-handed pitchers as he's delivered a career .264/.333/.505 line against them in 750 at-bats. Once Gibbons returns, he likely will see most of the action against righties with Gwynn moving into a back up role in both left and center. That said, there was some speculation earlier in spring training that Matt Kemp would shift to right and Andre Ethier, giving Gwynn - a better defensive outfielder - a starting role in center. Gwynn - Mixed: $0; NL: $2, Gibbons - Mixed: $2; NL: $7, Thames - Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Chris Heisey - Heisey make the Reds' roster as the fourth outfielder as his ability to play center field gave him the edge over the now injured Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida, not to mention Dave Sappelt. In the long run, Heisey could start taking time away from Jonny Gomes in left field partially due to his better defense, though that won't happen in the first couple of months of the season. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Mark Kotsay - Kotsay got the start in right field on Opening Day due to Corey Hart beginning the season on the DL. Hart is expected to return a week or two after the season starts, which will send Kotsay back to a bench role. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Nate McLouth - McLouth hit second in Atlanta's Opening Day lineup, going 0-for-4 in the 2-0 win. Following last season's debacle, McLouth, who rebounded somewhat with a solid final month, hit .310 with a .863 OPS this spring to win back everyday duty in center field. Hitting second in the order should help his runs scored if he can stay hot enough to stay in the everyday lineup. Mixed: $4, NL: $13.

Xavier Nady/Gerardo Parra - Nady is theoretically the leading candidate to start in left field, but his somewhat shaky defense and $1.75 million contract don't guarantee regular at-bats. To start the year, Nady will split time with Parra, who is getting the Opening Day nod and shown much better pop this spring. If Parra can drive the ball, look for him to gain the upper hand, starting against righties, while Nady, who struggles versus RHP, starts versus lefties. Keep in mind that Brandon Allen is biding his time and looms at Triple-A Reno. Nady: Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Parra: Mixed: $3, NL: $9.

Top Fantasy Baseball Player News