The MLB 2012 season finally gets underway Wednesday … for two teams. Seattle and Oakland will, paraphrasing Ernie Banks-san, play two, with Oakland being the home team, since, you know, everyone will be booing Ichiro Suzuki. Felix Hernandez is slated to face Brandon McCarthy in the first game, provided the latter doesn’t pull a McCarthy and find a way to get hurt in the next 24 hours. Jason Vargas and Bartolo Colon take the mound on Day 2, giving Japan a clear window into the best Major League Baseball has to offer.
Daily lineup, H2H league owners should obviously be getting everyone they can within reason into their lineups for these two games. Guys owned in less than a third of your fantasy leagues I’d consider for the honor include Mike Carp (who’s played like dyslexic Carp this spring), Justin Smoak (.393/.486/.500 this spring) and Seth Smith. I wouldn’t bother with any non-Felix pitcher, even McCarthy, who looks like a poor bet for a win in his first start.
Cain is Able
Lorenzo Cain is looking like a better fantasy sleeper by the day. His .447 average leads all batters this spring, and with eight doubles and four homers, he’s actually hit more extra-base knocks than singles so far. It’s never wise to base the totality of you hopes on spring training stats, but for intriguing sleepers or suspect bust candidates, a good or bad spring could be just the justification you need to dive in. I’m at that point with Cain, and while the odds of him going all Jacoby Ellsbury on the league are virtually non-existent, but if he can secure a spot at the top of the order, he’s a great option hitting ahead of Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler.
Fill in LeBlanc
Speaking of unlikely spring leaders, Wade LeBlanc has been virtually untouchable this spring, giving up just nine hits and two walks in 19.2 innings for a spring-leading 0.56 WHIP. It hasn’t been smoke and mirrors either, as he’s racked up 19 punchouts over those nearly 20 innings. These stats run completely contrary to everything we know about Wade LeBlanc; throw in the fact that he won’t be calling Petco home in 2012 and he can be safely dismissed in most leagues. However, if you’re unhappy with one of your guys, there’s no harm in grabbing LeBlanc, parking him on your bench and seeing how he carries over into the season. Be ready to cut bait at the first whiff of trouble.
AL-only leagues saw a starter shipped to the minors on Monday, as the Royals decided to let Johnny Giavotella stew at Triple-A Omaha to begin the season. This is a reality check that the wants and needs of your fantasy team doesn’t always lineup up with those of major-league ball clubs, as the Royals decided to roll with the superior defense of Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt at second to begin the season. Giavotella will spend the early part of the year working on his defense every day in the minors. In an honorable and just world, the Royals will see that Getz and Betancourt are no great shakes at the position either and call Giavotella back up with all due haste. Getz is an intriguing steals guy in fantasy leagues in the interim.
Lines of the Day: 3/26
Ben Zobrist: 3-for-3, HR, 4 RBI
Kendrys Morales: 3-for-4, RBI, 8-for-13 this spring
Pablo Sandoval: 3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Jon Lester: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
Jeff Francis: 3 IP, 11 H, 11 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Greg Holland: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, L, BS
Bottom of the 9th
Dusty Baker’s considering going with a closer-by-committee, which he hates. Dusty Baker, well on his way to becoming the most reviled manager in fantasy baseball history. Sean Marshall is still the guy to have, but owners prospecting for saves can give anyone in the pen a whirl.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse and Razzball. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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