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The Lineup Card: Top Sluggers Stand Out on the 'Hot' List

Andrew Fiorentino

Managing hockey editor, talent wrangler, football columnist, FSWA's 2015 fantasy hockey writer of the year. Twitter: @akfiorentino

Projected Starters - A look at Saturday's matchups (all times Eastern): 

Phillies (Roy Oswalt – R) at Braves (Brandon Beachy – R), 1:10
Yankees (Ivan Nova – R) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz – R), 1:10
Tampa Bay (Wade Davis – R) at White Sox (Philip Humber – R), 4:10
Royals (Bruce Chen – L) at Tigers (Phil Coke – L), 4:10
Rangers (Colby Lewis - R) at Orioles (Zach Britton - R), 4:35
Rangers (Matt Harrison – L) at Orioles (Jake Arrieta – R), 7:05 (DH)
Marlins (Javier Vazquez – R) at Astros (Bud Norris – R), 7:05
Rockies (Greg Reynolds – R ) at Pirates (Charlie Morton – R), 7:05
Nationals (Tom Gorzelanny – L) at Mets (Chris Capuano – L), 7:10
Cubs (Matt Garza – R) at Brewers (Chris Narveson – L), 7:10
Athletics (Gio Gonzalez – L) at Twins (Nick Blackburn – R), 7:10
Reds (Bronson Arroyo – R) at Diamondbacks (Daniel Hudson – R), 8:10
Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda – R) at Padres (Dustin Moseley – R), 8:35
Blue Jays (Brett Cecil – L) at Angels (Scott Kazmir – L), 9:05
Indians (Justin Masterson – R) at Mariners (Doug Fister – R), 9:10
Cardinals (Jaime Garcia – L) at Giants (Matt Cain – R), 10:05

Day Game After a Night Game: PHI, ATL, TB, CWS

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)

Michael Bourn, OF, HOU (groin) – Back in the lineup Friday
Michael Stanton, OF, FLA (hamstring) – Out Friday; hope is for weekend return
Matt Holliday, OF, STL (appendix) – Full workout and BP set for Friday; back quite soon if all goes well
Carlos Pena, 1B, CHC (thumb) – Back in the lineup Friday
Ian Stewart, 3B, COL (illness) – Scratched Friday
Stephen Drew, SS, ARI (abdomen) – Back in the lineup Friday

J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL (ribs) – Scratched Thursday, but likely for Friday
Adam Moore, C, SEA (knee) – Headed to the DL; out 6-8 weeks with surgery
Adam Dunn, 1B, CHW (appendix) – Still out Friday; will return when pain is gone, which should be soon
Jeremy Guthrie, SP, BAL (pneumonia) – Threw 40-pitch bullpen Friday

Players on the DL

Henry Alberto Rodriguez, RP, WAS – Will begin rehab assignment in Double-A
Domonic Brown, OF, PHI (wrist) – Doing light hitting work
Brad Lidge, RP, PHI (shoulder) – Out ‘til around the All-Star break
Chien-Ming Wang, SP, WAS – Expected to throw in an extended spring training game within a week
Jason Bay, OF, NYM (ribs) – Hitting off a tee in Florida
Clint Barmes, 2B, HOU (hand) – Cleared to play catch and swing the bat

Jake Peavy, SP, CHW (shoulder) – Rehab starts scheduled through April 28, but flexible
Carlos Guillen, 2B, DET (knee) – Still rehabbing in Florida; no certain timetable
Joel Zumaya, RP, DET (elbow) – Cleared for light throwing
Matt Albers, RP, BOS (back) – Placed on DL
Reggie Willits, OF, LAA (calf) – Started a rehab assignment Thursday in A ball
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B, MIN (leg) – Doesn’t need a cast or surgery for his broken leg
Brandon Webb, SP, TEX (shoulder) – Threw 64-pitch bullpen Friday
Scott Downs, RP, LAA (toe) – Allowed a run in a one-inning rehab appearance in A ball

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

Called Up
Luke Hughes, 3B, MIN
Alfredo Aceves, RP, BOS

Sent Down
Casey Janssen, RP, TOR
Dennys Reyes, RP, BOS (DFA)

Placed on DL (15-day unless otherwise noted) 
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B, MIN
Matt Albers, RP, BOS (retroactive to April 6)

Activated from DL
Felix Doubront, RP, BOS

Manny Ramirez, OF, TAM (after being informed of positive drug test)

Closer Watch - A closer look at intriguing ninth-inning situations (check out our Closer Grid with the link to the left). 

Houston – Brandon Lyon had another adventure Thursday, giving up a couple hits, but was able to nail down his first save of the year. He’s still an iffy fantasy proposition, so keep an eye on this situation.

Oakland – Brian Fuentes picked up his first save of the year with a solid inning against Toronto. He’ll likely hold the role until the return of Andrew Bailey, who seems to be getting close.

Milwaukee – John Axford made it two in a row against Atlanta on Thursday, continuing to recover from his Opening Day blues. He doesn’t seem to be at risk of losing his job right now.

Washington – Sorry, Drew Storen owners. Sean Burnett picked up his second save with a one-hit, one-strikeout 11th inning against Florida. Storen threw perfect eighth and ninth innings in that one.

Boston – Jonathan Papelbon actually got a save opportunity for the formerly winless Red Sox on Friday, and he struck out two Yankees in a perfect ninth. The much-maligned Papelbon gave up a run his first time out this year, but he does have five strikeouts in two innings thus far.

Key Matchups

Nate McLouth v. Roy Oswalt – 10-for-30 (.333), 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1:8 BB:K, .955 OPS
Alex Gonzalez v. Roy Oswalt – 10-for-25 (.400), 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1:4 BB:K, 1.063 OPS
Robinson Cano v. Clay Buchholz – 7-for-15 (.467), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, 1.067 OPS
Alex Rodriguez v. Clay Buchhols – 4-for-13 (.308), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2:1 BB:K, .938 OPS
Miguel Cabrera v. Bruce Chen – 8-for-14 (.571), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7:1 BB:K, 2.071 OPS (!)
Ryan Raburn v. Bruce Chen – 5-for-16 (.313), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, 1.109 OPS
Carlos Lee v. Javier Vazquez – 4-for-15 (.267), 3 HR, 3 RBI, 1:3 BB:K, 1.179 OPS
David Wright v. Tom Gorzelanny – 3-for-10 (.300), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2:2 BB:K, 1.017 OPS (all three hits were doubles)
Yuniesky Betancourt v. Matt Garza – 5-for-15 (.333), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .733 OPS
Denard Span v. Gio Gonzalez – 4-for-10 (.400), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3:1 BB:K, 1.138 OPS
David DeJesus v. Nick Blackburn – 11-for-21 (.524), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3:0 BB:K, 1.440 OPS (career cycle)
Mark Ellis v. Nick Blackburn – 6-for-13 (.462), 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1:0 BB:K, 1.500 OPS
Xavier Nady v. Bronson Arroyo – 7-for-24 (.292), 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0:2 BB:K, .875 OPS
Kelly Johnson v. Bronson Arroyo – 5-for-16 (.313), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3:2 BB:K, 1.109 OPS
Chris Young v. Bronson Arroyo – 3-for-10 (.300), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4:2 BB:K, 1.000 OPS
Miguel Montero v. Bronson Arroyo – 5-for-9 (.556), 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0:2 BB:K, 1.778 OPS
Chase Headley v. Hiroki Kuroda – 6-for-18 (.333), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2:6 BB:K, .900 OPS
Will Venable v. Hiroki Kuroda – 7-for-16 (.438), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1:3 BB:K, 1.158 OPS
Jorge Cantu v. Hiroki Kuroda – 5-for-15 (.333), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1:2 BB:K, .975 OPS
Brad Hawpe v. Hiroki Huroda – 5-for-12 (.417), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0:2 BB:K, 1.135 OPS
Rajai Davis v. Scott Kazmir – 7-for-15 (.467), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 0:5 BB:K, 1.400 OPS (career cycle)
Albert Pujols v. Matt Cain – 8-for-12 (.667), 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3:0 BB:K, 1.983 OPS (!)

Chipper Jones v. Roy Oswalt – 6-for-25 (.240), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2:5 BB:K, .576 OPS
Dan Uggla v. Roy Oswalt – 3-for-20 (.150), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4:7 BB:K, .492 OPS
Brandon Inge v. Bruce Chen – 1-for-21 (.048), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3:6 BB:K, .214 OPS
Jhonny Peralta v. Bruce Chen – 2-for-14 (.143), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1:3 BB:K, .402 OPS
Joe Inglett v. Javier Vazquez – 0-for-9 (.000), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .000 OPS
Chris Coghlan v. Bud Norros – 0-for-8 (.000), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2:3 BB:K, .200 OPS
Jose Reyes v. Tom Gorzelanny – 2-for-10 (.200), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3:0 BB:K, .585 OPS (but .385 OBP!)
Daric Barton v. Nick Blackburn – 3-for-18 (.167), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2:1 BB:K, .583 OPS
Henry Blanco v. Bronson Arroyo – 1-for-17 (.059), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1:5 BB:K, .170 OPS
Melvin Mora v. Bronson Arroyo – 3-for-14 (.214), 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, .670 OPS
Justin Upton v. Bronson Arroyo – 2-for-16 (.125), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0:7 BB:K, .438
Stephen Drew v. Bronson Arroyo – 3-for-14 (.214), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0:1 BB:K, .643 OPS
Jose Molina v. Scott Kazmir – 2-for-13 (.154), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, .497 OPS
Chone Figgins v. Justin Masterson – 1-for-12 (.083), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2:4 BB:K, .464 OPS
Ichiro Suzuki v. Justin Masterson – 2-for-9 (.222), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:1 BB:K, .522 OPS
Ryan Theriot v. Matt Cain – 3-for-20 (.150), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:3 BB:K, .390 OPS
Skip Schumaker v. Matt Cain – 3-for-15 (.200), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1:1 BB:K, .450 OPS
Matt Holliday v. Matt Cain – 6-for-35 (.171), 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4:9 BB:K, .611 OPS (unlikely to play, though)
Manny Ramirez v. MLB’s drug policies – 0-for-2, 1 retirement, 0 HOF votes

Nick Blackburn v. Athletics – Current A’s hitters have eaten Blackburn up, combining for a .343/.400/.600 line over 115 plate appearances. Worse yet, Blackburn has struck out just five of them and walked 10, and they’ve hit five homers off him. More broadly, Blackburn is 0-4 with a 6.64 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in his career against Oakland’s ordinarily uninspiring offense.

Hiroki Kuroda v. Padres – The weak-hitting, Adrian Gonzalez-less Padres shouldn’t give Kuroda trouble, but they have nonetheless, at least historically. Padres hitters have a combined .317/.343/.465 line off Kuroda, who’s 5-4 with a 4.61 career ERA against San Diego in his career. All four hitters with more than 10 plate appearances against him have averages of .333 or higher, while the guys who have faced him less than 10 time almost universally have miserable averages. Perhaps the more you see Kuroda, the better you hit him.

Recommended Pickup

Alex Avila, C, DET – One of my favorite deep mixed/AL-only picks from last year, Avila came out and hit just .228 while splitting time with Gerald Laird, leading to his prompt dismissal from many fantasy squads. He has assumed a bigger share of the catching duties this season, however, with Laird gone and Victor Martinez primarily serving as the DH. Avila has been awful productive over the last two games, collecting a couple homers, six RBI and a steal. The lefty-hitting Avila has struggled against left-handed pitching in limited exposure in his career, but the stick is certainly there. He should be a hot commodity in AL-only or two-catcher leagues in particular.

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