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Thursday Lineup Card: Knock on Wood

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Projected Starters – A look at Thursday's matchups (all times Eastern)

Red Sox (Jon Lester - L) at Indians (Fausto Carmona - R), 12:05 PM
Astros (Brett Myers - R) at Reds (Sam LeCure - R), 12:35 PM
A’s (Trevor Cahill - R) at Blue Jays (Ricky Romero - L), 12:37 PM
Twins (Francisco Liriano - L) at Yankees (A.J. Burnett - R), 1:05 PM
Rockies (Esmil Rogers - R) at Pirates (Paul Maholm - L), 1:35 PM
Braves (Tommy Hanson - R) at Brewers (Shaun Marcum - R), 1:40 PM
Rays (David Price - L) at White Sox (Edwin Jackson - R), 2:10 PM
Mets (Jonathon Niese - L) at Phillies (Roy Halladay - R), 3:05 PM
Tigers (Brad Penny - R) at Orioles (Chris Tillman - R), 7:05 PM
Nationals (John Lannan - L) at Marlins (Josh Johnson - R), 7:10 PM

Day game after a night game: BOS, CLE, HOU, OAK, TOR, MIN, NYY, ATL, MIL, NYM, PHI

Injuries – A brief look at players who have been missing time with minor ailments and their expected returns

Day-to-Day (includes players expected to make their return from the DL)
Adam Dunn, 1B, CWS - (Appendectomy) Will miss up to five days
Michael Stanton, OF, FLA - (Hamstring) Still likely out of the starting lineup until the weekend
Jorge De La Rosa, SP, COL - (Finger) In line to start Friday
Jeremy Guthrie, SP, BAL - (Illness) Released from hospital Wednesday; could start Sunday
Erick Aybar, SS, LAA - (Oblique) Did not play Wednesday; unlikely to play in Friday’s home opener as well
Carlos Pena, 1B, CHC - (Thumb) Did not play Wednesday; expected to return Friday
Stephen Drew, SS, AZ - (Abdomen) Did not play Wednesday; remains day-to-day for the time being
Melvin Mora, 3B, AZ - (Illness) Returned to the lineup Wednesday
Randy Wells - SP, CHC - (Shoulder) Injury described as “very mild,” but will still be placed on DL
Andrew Cashner, SP, CHC - (Forearm) No apparent elbow damage but will still hit the DL
Alexi Ogano, SP, TEX - (Finger) Still in line to make scheduled start Monday
Luke Scott, OF, BAL - (Groin) Did not start Wednesday; remains day-to-day
Manny Ramirez, OF, TB - Will not play Thursday due to a personal matter
Adam Moore, C, SEA - Left Wednesday’s game with a right knee injury and could miss an extended period
Kevin Slowey, P, MIN - Day-to-day with a sore biceps muscle

Players on the DL
Chase Utley, 2B, PHI - (Knee) Taking part in more drills but still out indefinitely
Kendrys Morales, 1B, LAA - (Ankle) Still not cleared to run; remains out indefinitely
Scott Downs, RP, LAA - (Toe) Threw bullpen session Tuesday; could be activated as soon as this weekend
Joel Pineiro, SP, LAA - (Shoulder) Threw off flat ground Tuesday
Jair Jurrjens, SP, ATL - (Oblique) Will make rehab start Apr. 11
Chris Snyder, C, PIT - (Back) Caught five innings in Tuesday intrasquad game
Nick Punto, SS, STL - (Sports Hernia) Increasing baseball activities; still on target for early May return
Alberto Arias, RP, HOU - (Shoulder) On schedule to return by the end of the month
Joe Thatcher, RP, SD - (Shoulder) Suffered setback Tuesday and will be shut down for a few days
Manny Parra, P, MIL - (Back) Could begin rehab assignment soon

Transactions – Players who have been demoted, called up, traded , released, you name it. We'll cover it here.

Placed on the DL (15-day DL unless otherwise noted)
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, COL
Santiago Casilla, RP, SF
Michael Wuertz, RP, OAK

Activated from DL
Brian Wilson, RP, SF
Casey Blake, 3B, LAD
Dayan Viciedo, OF, CWS - optioned to Triple-A Charlotte

Called Up
Greg Reynolds, SP, COL
Marco Estrada, SP, MIL
Tyson Ross, P, OAK

Sent Down
Brandon Kintzler, RP, MIL
Ivan De Jesus, SS, LAD

Closer Watch – A closer look at intriguing ninth-inning situations (also check out our Closer Grid)

Los Angeles (AL) - Jordan Walden picked up his first save of the season Tuesday night and then pitched the ninth in the Angels’ 5-1 victory over the Rays on Wednesday. The closer’s job is his for now, but Scott Downs will garner consideration when he returns.

Minnesota - Joe Nathan allowed four baserunners in his first appearance of the season, but he was much sharper Tuesday night, pitching a perfect 10th inning to help the Twins complete a comeback victory over the Yankees. Though his first outing was a bit of a ride, Nathan is 2-for-2 in save opportunities this season.

Oakland - Brian Fuentes was unavailable for Tuesday’s game due a blister on his pitching hand, so Grant Balfour was called upon for the save after the A’s took a one-run lead in the top of the 10th inning. The advantage did not last long - two batters and a walk-off home run later the game was over. Manager Bob Geren expects Fuentes to be available for Wednesday’s game, so he will likely get the ball if the A’s find themselves in a save situation again.

Washington - Sean Burnett gave up the hit to lose Tuesday’s game, but it was Drew Storen who put him in the jam by loading the bases with no outs. Burnett looked very good again Tuesday and likely remains the top closer option for Jim Riggleman at the moment.

Key Matchups

Orlando Cabrera v. Jon Lester - Cabrera is off to a fast start with his new club, hitting .375 with five RBI. He’ll have a chance to continue the hot streak Thursday - Cabrera has gotten on base nine of the 18 times he has faced Lester in his career and has picked up four RBI.

Jon Lester v. Indians - Current Indians have hit .325 against Lester over their careers, and he has posted a 4.53 ERA against the team in eight starts. Owners should still start Lester, but be aware that he has not been at his best when facing Cleveland.

Marco Scutaro v. Fausto Carmona - Scutaro has been a bit banged up early this season, but he’s worth a start Thursday - Scutaro is 11-for-25 (.440) against Carmona in his career.

David Ortiz v. Fausto Carmona - Ortiz is 5-for-13 against Carmona in his career, including a home run and five RBI.

Edgar Renteria v. Brett Myers - Don't be surprised if Renteria gets his second start of the season Thursday. In his career, Renteria is 17-for-40 (.425) against Myers with two home runs and eight RBI.

Scott Rolen v. Brett Myers - Rolen has had some success against Myers as well, going 8-for-19 with a home run and four RBI.

Juan Rivera v. Trevor Cahill - Rivera has just one hit in 12 career at-bats against Cahill, so it may be best to use another option Thursday.

Curtis Granderson v. Francisco Liriano - Granderson has homered off Liriano, but he is just 4-for-22 (.182) with 12 strikeouts against him.

Mark Teixeira v. Francisco Liriano - Teixeira is off to a scorching start, but he will face a tough test Thursday with Liriano on the mound. Teixeira is just 3-for-16 (.188) with eight strikeouts against the lefty.

Troy Tulowitzki v. Paul Maholm - Tulowitzki is 8-for-16 (.500) against Maholm in his career with a home run and three doubles.

Dexter Fowler v. Paul Maholm - Fowler has fared even better against Maholm than Tulowitzki, going 8-for-14 (.571) with three doubles and four RBI.

Paul Maholm v. Rockies - Given the two matchups above, fantasy owners should not be surprised that Maholm has really struggled against Colorado in his career. In eight starts, Maholm is just 1-6 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.85 WHIP.

Ryan Braun v. Tommy Hanson - Braun has four hits in 12 career at-bats against Hanson in his career - three of which have been home runs.

Nyjer Morgan v. Tommy Hanson - Morgan is 6-for-13 (.462) against Hanson in his career, so it seems likely that he will be in the Brewers’ starting lineup Thursday afternoon.

Alexis Rios v. David Price - Rios has only faced Price 10 times, but he has reached base successfully against him in seven of those opportunities. Rios’ line includes a triple, two home runs, and two walks.

David Price v. White Sox - Price has has allowed 10 earned runs and posted a 13:9 K:BB ratio over 18 total innings in three starts against the White Sox, all losses. The sample size is small, but be aware that Price will be tested.

Johnny Damon/Manny Ramirez v. Edwin Jackson - The two new Rays have combined to hit just 10-for-52 (.192) with zero home runs and five RBI against Jackson in their careers. Ramirez will miss Thursday’s game due to a personal matter, so Damon will likely be in the Rays’ starting lineup. That does not mean he should be in yours, however.

Edwin Jackson v. Rays - Jackson has only started two games against Tampa Bay in his career, and current Rays other than Damon/Ramirez have only faced him 47 total times, but Jackson’s fantasy owners will still like the statistics. Though Jackson has issued 11 walks in 17 career innings against Chicago, he has given up just six hits (.107 BAA) and three earned runs. Plus, current Rays - including the two players above - have combined for a .165/.276/.209 slash line against him. Jackson has a good opportunity to move to 2-0 Thursday.

Jonathon Niese v. Phillies - Like Jackson, Niese’s sample size against the Phillies is small. However, he has allowed just five earned runs and has posted a 20:8 K:BB ratio in 21 career innings against Philadelphia.

Carlos Beltran v. Roy Halladay - Beltran has struggled a bit early, but he will surprisingly have a chance to get on track against Halladay. Beltran is 12-for-38 (.316) with two home runs and nine RBI against Halladay in his career.

Jose Reyes v. Roy Halladay - Reyes has had some success against Halladay as well, going 8-for-19 (.421) with three doubles and two triples.

Vladimir Guerrero v. Brad Penny - Guerrero is 14-for-42 (.333) with a home run against Penny in his career.

Brad Penny v. Orioles - Small sample size the other way - Penny has allowed nine runs, eight earned, in 9.1 career innings against Baltimore. Coming off a 4.1 inning, eight earned-run outing in his first start, it may be best to leavehim on the bench.

Hanley Ramirez v. John Lannan - Ramirez is 7-for-15 with a home run and four RBI against Lannan in his career.

Jayson Werth/Ryan Zimmerman/Adam LaRoche v. Josh Johnson - These three players occupy the two through four spots in the Nationals’ order, which means the team will have a very difficult time scoring runs Thursday. The trio has combined to hit 12-for-55 (.218) with no home runs and five RBI against Johnson over their careers. Don’t expect much success from any of them - or the Nationals - Thursday.

Josh Johnson v. Nationals - Johnson dominates the Nationals’ best hitters, so it’s no surprise that he has had great success against them in his career. In 14 career appearances, including 13 starts, Johnson is 7-0 with a 3.27 ERA and 76:27 K:BB ratio. Win number eight seems fairly likely.

Recommended Pickup

Travis Wood, SP, CIN - The Reds are loaded with quality young pitchers, but Wood is a guy that often gets forgot when discussing who is the best. However, if his first 2011 start is any indicator, that may change son. Wood pitched seven strong innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits, while posting a 7:0 K:BB ratio, in a win over the Brewers last Saturday. The stellar K:BB ratio should not come as a big surprise considering Wood put up a 1.08 WHIP in 102.2 major league innings a season ago. After working out with Cliff Lee in the offseason, Wood appears posed to make a jump up the rankings, not just in Cincinnati but on fantasy cheatsheets as well. Wood is still unowned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so don’t hesitate to give him a shot if he is still available in yours.

Other recent recommendations: Jordan Walden, Sean Burnett, R.A. Dickey, Zach Britton, J.P. Arencibia