Projected Starters - A look at Friday's matchups (all times Eastern).
Dodgers (Chad Billingsley – R) at Cubs (Casey Coleman – R), 2:20
Yankees (CC Sabathia – L ) at Orioles (Brad Bergesen – R), 7:05
White Sox (Mark Buehrle – L) at Tigers (Justin Verlander – R), 7:05
Nationals (Livan Hernandez – R) at Pirates (Jeff Karstens – R), 7:05
Rays (Jeremy Hellickson – R) at Blue Jays (Jo-Jo Reyes – L), 7:07
Rockies (Jhoulys Chacin – L) at Marlins (Anibal Sanchez – R), 7:10
Diamondbacks (Joe Saunders – L) at Mets (Mike Pelfrey – R), 7:10
Royals (Jeff Francis – L) at Rangers (Derek Holland – L), 8:05
Astros (Nelson Figueroa – R) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo – R), 8:10
Indians (Fausto Carmona – R) at Twins (Brian Duensing – L), 8:10
Reds (Edinson Volquez – R) at Cardinals (Kyle McClellan – R), 8:15
Red Sox (Jon Lester – L) at Angels (Dan Haren – R), 10:05
Phillies (Cole Hamels – L) at Padres (Clayton Richard – L), 10:05
Athletics (Tyson Ross – R) at Mariners (Michael Pineda – R), 10:10
Braves (Tommy Hanson – R) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner – L), 10:15
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)
Vicente Padilla, RP, LAD (elbow) – Expected to be activated Friday
Bill Hall, 2B, HOU (ankle) – Available to pinch-hit Thursday
Melvin Mora, 3B, ARI (foot) – Out Thursday
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF (triceps) – Hopes to go Friday
Jason Bay, OF, NYM (ribs) – Activated and back in Thursday’s lineup
Delmon Young, OF, MIN (ribs) – Out Thursday
Johnny Damon, OF, TB (finger) – Back in the lineup Thursday
Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN (flu) – Out again Thursday
Nick Blackburn, SP, MIN (back) – Left Wednesday’s start with tightness
Players on the DL
Chase Utley, 2B, PHI (knee) – Making consistent progress, but still far off
Johnny Cueto, SP, CIN (shoulder) – Could be back early next week
Todd Coffey, RP, WAS (calf) – Threw a bullpen Thursday
Chien-Ming Wang, SP, WAS (shoulder) – Threw two innings in extended spring training
Ronnie Paulino, C, NYM (anemia) – Sent to Triple-A for rehab; expected back April 26
Logan Morrison, OF, FLA (foot) – Has sprains and strain, and headed to DL
Dioner Navarro, C, LAD (oblique) – Stole two bases in rehab game Tuesday; weird
Hong-Chi Kuo, RP, LAD (back) – Beginning rehab assignment soon; target date on/about April 29
Clint Barmes, 2B, HOU (hand) – Will be X-rayed Monday with expectation of beginning rehab assignment next week
Geoff Blum, SS, AZ (knee) – Needs surgery and will miss 6-8 weeks
J.P. Howell, RP, TB (shoulder) – Beginning rehab assignment in extended ST Friday
Evan Longoria, 3B, TB (oblique) – Hitting off a tee without discomfort; targeting April 29 return
Jake Peavy, SP, CHW (shoulder) – Next minor league start expected for April 28
Michael Wuertz, RP, OAK (hamstring) – Allowed three runs in rehab appearance Wednesday
Andrew Bailey, RP, OAK (forearm) – Had a good bullpen, but it’ll be at least another week until he starts a rehab assignment
Tommy Hunter, SP, TEX (groin) – Hopes to start rehab assignment next weekend
Brandon Webb, SP, TEX (shoulder) – Threw 60-pitch batting practice session Wednesday
Kevin Slowey, SP, MIN (shoulder) – Throwing Thursday bullpen and pitching in extended ST Saturday and Wednesday
David Aardsma, RP, SEA (hip) – Made first rehab appearance Tuesday and gave up two-run homer
Philip Hughes, SP, NYY (dead arm) – Had 30-pitch bullpen with no discomfort; no set timetable at the moment
Joel Zumaya, RP, DET (elbow) – Scheduled for six more weeks of rehab, rest and strengthening
Dallas Braden, SP, OAK (shoulder) – No structural damage
Transactions - Players that have been demoted, called up, traded, released, you name it. We'll cover it here.
Chris Woodward, SS, TOR
Luis Perez, RP, TOR
Brett Cecil, SP, TOR
Garrett Olson, RP, PIT
Mike McClendon, RP, MIL
George Kottaras, C, MIL
Activated from DL
Brandon Morrow, SP, TOR
Jason Bay, OF, NYM
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, MIL
Closer Watch - A closer look at intriguing ninth-inning situations (check out our Closer Grid with the link to the left).
Washington – Drew Storen has saved a game in each of the Nats’ doubleheaders this week, most recently Wednesday against the Cardinals. Sean Burnett still leads the team in saves with three, but he’s given up a run and multiple hits in three straight outings, so it looks like Storen has taken over. At least for now.
Philadelphia – Jose Contreras collected his fourth save Wednesday. He’s got a stranglehold here until Brad Lidge returns, and considering that Contreras hasn’t given up a run yet this season, you’ve got to start considering the possibility that he’ll be able to hold the job even when Lidge is back.
St. Louis – Mitchell Boggs delivered a clean ninth Wednesday for the first save of his career. He’s the pickup at the moment with Ryan Franklin booted from the role, but look out for the possible emergence of Jason Motte as well.
Tampa Bay – The curiously effective Kyle Farnsworth collected his fourth save Wednesday, so he seems cemented in the role for the moment, particularly considering the struggles of Jake McGee. Joel Peralta is presumably looming as the second option at the moment.
Houston – Brandon Lyon’s journey of redemption continues, as he collected another save Wednesday and hasn’t given up a run since Opening Day.
A.J. Pierzynski v. Justin Verlander – 16-for-49 (.327), 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, .932 OPS
Alexis Rios v. Justin Verlander – 4-for-13 (.308), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3:5 BB:K, .899 OPS
Magglio Ordonez v. Mark Buehrle – 15-for-32 (.469), 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, 1.219 OPS
Adam Jones v. CC Sabathia – 9-for-27 (.333), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3:5 BB:K, .919 OPS
Miguel Montero v. Mike Pelfrey – 7-for-12 (.583), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1:1 BB:K, 1.532 OPS (four doubles)
Chris Young v. Mike Pelfrey – 6-for-15 (.400), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:1 BB:K, .904 OPS
Carlos Lee v. Yovani Gallardo – 7-for-23 (.304), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2:0 BB:K, .824 OPS
Michael Bourn v. Yovani Gallardo – 8-for-20 (.400), 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2:7 BB:K, .855 OPS
Jason Kubel v. Fausto Carmona – 13-for-36 (.361), 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, 1.077 OPS
Justin Morneau v. Fausto Carmona – 7-for-26 (.269), 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5:2 BB:K, .964 OPS
Torii Hunter v. Jon Lester – 5-for-13 (..385), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, 1.236 OPS
David Ortiz v. Dan Haren – 7-for-19 (.368), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3:1 BB:K, 1.402 OPS
Jorge Cantu v. Cole Hamels – 7-for-25 (.280), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, .961 OPS
Ryan Ludwick v. Cole Hamels – 5-for-13 (.385), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2:1 BB:K, 1.313 OPS
Alberto Gonzalez v. Cole Hamels – 5-for-11 (.455), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0:2 BB:K, 1.136 OPS
Chad Billingsley v. Cubs – The native of Defiance, Ohio (that’s an irrelevant fact, but what a great name for a town, right?) has done mighty fine work against these Cubs hitters in his career, holding them to a combined line of .229/.299/.365 with a 34:10 K:BB. Billingsley has been off to an uneven start, but a visit to Wrigley could be just what the doctor ordered – assuming the wind isn’t blowing out.
Justin Verlander v. White Sox – The owner of this season’s frontrunner for Balk of the Year (seriously, check that out; it’s bizarre), Verlander has been tough on these ChiSox hitters, limiting them to a .242/.302/.377 line over a hearty sample of 252 plate appearances, including absolutely owning a couple pretty good hitters in Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez. His 51:18 K:BB rate is nice as well. Verlander’s greatest task in this one will be limiting noted slugger A.J. Pierzynski, who you’ll notice at the top of the hot section.
CC Sabathia v. Orioles – Sabathia has done well against the O’s both as a Yankee and as an Indian, posting dominant numbers against essentially everyone they’ve got except for Adam Jones. The line: .237/.282/.365, curiously similar to those of Billingsley and Verlander for their Friday matchups. Weird, right?
Dan Haren v. Red Sox – Outside of David Ortiz (see above) and Adrian Gonzalez (.289, a couple homers), these crimson stockings haven’t had too much luck against Haren, as even with Ortiz leaning his considerable weight on the numbers, in total, they’re .217/.267/.395 hitters. Take out Ortiz and Gonzalez (which the Sox obviously won’t) and the remaining Sox have a grand total of no homers and a 4:30 BB:K over 103 plate appearances against Haren, who it’s worth noting is undefeated with a tiny 1.16 ERA to start the season, so he’s hot in that respect as well.
Kosuke Fukudome v. Chad Billingsley – 4-for-21 (.190), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1:8 BB:K, .646 OPS
Alfonso Soriano v. Chad Billingsley – 4-for-18 (.222), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:8 BB:K, .485 OPS
Paul Konerko v. Justin Verlander – 4-for-38 (.105), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3:12 BB:K, .296 OPS
Mark Teahen v. Justin Verlander – 6-for-35 (.171), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6:14 BB:K, .550 OPS
Alexei Ramirez v. Justin Verlander – 5-for-28 (.179), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, .493 OPS
Miguel Cabrera v. Mark Buehrle – 1-for-18 (.056), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .111 OPS
Ramon Santiago v. Mark Buehrle – 2-for-11 (.182), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, .523 OPS
Brian Roberts v. CC Sabathia – 9-for-39 (.231), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6:10 BB:K, .590 OPS
Vladimir Guerrero v. CC Sabathia – 5-for-28 (.179), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1:7 BB:K, .557 OPS
Cesar Izturis v. CC Sabathia – 6-for-29 (.207), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .407 OPS
Matt Wieters v. CC Sabathia – 2-for-15 (.133), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1:6 BB:K, .521 OPS
Lyle Overbay v. Livan Hernandez – 2-for-10 (.200), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, .573 OPS
Denard Span v. Fausto Carmona – 4-for-24 (.167), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3:4 BB:K, .551 OPS
Brandon Phillips v. Kyle McClellan – 0-for-9 (.000), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, .182 OPS
Vernon Wells v. Jon Lester – 5-for-28 (.179), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5:2 BB:K, .671 OPS
Bobby Abreu v. Jon Lester – 4-for-17 (.235), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4:3 BB:K, .734 OPS
Howie Kendrick v. Jon Lester – 3-for-17 (.176), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:3 BB:K, .412 OPS
Kevin Youkilis v. Dan Haren – 3-for-16 (.188), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0:4 BB:K, .375 OPS
J.D. Drew v. Dan Haren – 1-for-12 (.083), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:5 BB:K, .167 OPS
Jason Varitek v. Dan Haren – 1-for-10 (.100), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:5 BB:K, .382 OPS
Dustin Pedroia v. Dan Haren – 0-for-9 (.000), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:3 BB:K, .100 OPS
Chase Headley v. Cole Hamels – 3-for-15 (.200), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0:3 BB:K, .467 OPS
Orlando Hudson v. Cole Hamels – 4-for-18 (.222), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0:6 BB:K, .667 OPS
Placido Polanco v. Clayton Richard – 1-for-10 (.100), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .200 OPS
Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS – As I write this, Espinosa is tied with Ryan Howard for second in the National League in RBI, and yet he’s getting no love in fantasy – just 17 percent owned on Yahoo, which is quite low for a guy with power and speed who’s hitting at the top of the order. A two-time 20-steal man in the minor leagues, Espinosa hasn’t swiped one in the majors yet, but he has hit eight homers in 155 big-league ABs, and when Ryan Zimmerman returns to that lineup, you can expect Espinosa’s runs-scored number to spike – not that it’s too low right now. He’s shown much better plate discipline than he did last year (7:13 BB:K a big improvement on last season’s 9:30) and is entrenched as a starting player at a premium position. The former third-rounder out of Long Beach State still probably won’t help you in average, but a 15/15 season is quite possible, and that’s more than enough to make him worth owning.
Other recent recommendations: Brennan Boesch, Jerry Sands, Jed Lowrie, Jon Herrera, and Bartolo Colon