News, Analysis & UpdatesApril 6, 2012

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Weekend Warrior: Bullpens Blow on Thursday

By R.J. White

The rest of Opening Day is scheduled for Friday, the fourth different day with openers and the fifth day in all that has seen major-league action this year. But yeah, this is just what baseball fans want, Bud Selig! While most teams have been playing tune-up games against community colleges and minor league teams this week, the Rockies were able to schedule not one, but three games against the Triple-A Astros this weekend, and here’s the kicker … they count in the standings!

Be sure to check out the Cheering, Venting thread throughout Friday to join in on today’s festivities. Before we get to that, let’s review what happened yesterday, the first of many days with multiple regular-season games this year.

Justin Verlander was outstanding, but it matters not in win-only leagues (and I hope those don’t actually exist), as Jose Valverde blew his first save since September 2, 2010 but vultured Verlander’s win. After going 49-for-49 in save conversions last year, Valverde is 0-for-1 in 2012. In the same game, the Red Sox new-look bullpen didn’t do so well, with Mark Melancon recording one out while surrendering two hits and Alfredo Aceves allowing the game-winning run (charged to Melancon) on a HBP and a single. So hurry back, Andrew Bailey!

Tommy Hanson and Johan Santana both pitched five excellent innings in New York, both posting 0.80 WHIPs while shutting out the opposition. But Hanson got into trouble in the sixth, putting the first three runners on and letting a run score without recording an out. Kris Medlen came in and cleaned up the mess, but the damage was done. Mets win, 1-0.

Erik Bedard’s first start of the season played out just the way we expected, with him throwing seven strong innings and being handed a loss for his efforts. That’s because he was up against Roy Halladay, who gave up just two singles through eight innings while recording five Ks for the win. Jonathan Papelbon was one of the few closers with an uneventful save in the ninth. Carlos Ruiz (the C2 of my heart) was 3-for-3 with the game’s only RBI.

Stephen Strasburg was everyone’s must-see pitcher in the Nationals-Cubs game, but Ryan Dempster stole the show. The Cubs ace struck out 10 guys in 7.2 innings while allowing three walks and two hits and putting a zero on the scoreboard when he departed. That’ll normally get you a win, but it was one of those Opening Days all around, with Kerry Wood walking three batters before he could manage an out to put a ND next to Dempster’s fantastic line. Back to Strasburg — owners probably expected more Ks, but five in seven innings while allowing five hits, a walk and a run is plenty good. Ian Desmond recorded three singles in five at-bats and a stolen base.

The Blue Jays and Indians nearly played two games after Chris Perez gave up three hits, two walks and three runs to blow a save while recording just two outs. Justin Masterson was probably the best pitcher on the day, save for a fourth-inning slider to Jose Bautista (mashed). Masterson would finish his eight other innings allowing just one other hit and one walk while racking up 10 Ks. Go add Vinnie Pestano while there’s still time. Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus combined to go 0-for-13 with one walk (Lawrie). J.P. Arencibia’s three-run HR in the 16th was the difference.

Johnny Cueto ruined the Marlins debut of Mark Buerhle by twirling seven shutout innings, surrendering just three hits and two walks. Buerhle helped, with seven hits and two walks allowed in six innings of two-run ball. Jay Bruce went yard, but thankfully the game was in Cincinnati and we weren’t subjected to the Marlins Monstrosity in center field.

Finally, Clayton Kershaw tried to gut through the flu but made it just three innings for the Dodgers on Opening Day, recording three Ks in his scoreless appearance. Kenley Jansen allowed two runs in his inning of work, giving Javy Guerra a save opportunity, which he converted flawlessly. Matt Kemp was MVP-ish, going 2-for-5 with a homer, two runs and three RBIs. If a perfect Nick Hundley throw hadn’t cut him down at second, it would have been the cherry on the top of an awesome fantasy line. On the Pads side, Cameron Maybin homered but forgot how to catch (his error was on a fly ball that hit his glove), while Edinson Volquez gave owners more of the same, with four walks in five innings.

And now, to the weekend …


Two marquee pitching matchups stand out, with CC Sabathia and James Shields squaring off in what could wind up being the deciding game for the AL East title in six months, and Tim Lincecum starting his season against Arizona ace Ian Kennedy. Jered Weaver, Yovani Gallardo, Cory Luebke and Jamie Garcia all deserve your starts, as usual, and with the way hitters struggled yesterday, even against non-elite pitching, I’d go ahead and play Colby Lewis, John Danks, Chad Billingsley and Wandy Rodriguez in their debuts. Jason Varags and Brandon McCarthy are 0-0, just like almost everyone else, though both have actually started a game this year. I’d feel fine throwing them against each other if you have either.


All 30 teams play on the same day for the first time this year on Saturday, with a matchup between Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright, who last pitched in a regular season game on September 24, 2010, standing out. Madison Bumgarner and Dan Hudson comprise another good pitching matchup in Arizona, while No. 2s-but-really No. 1s Cliff Lee, Dan Haren and David Price take the mound for the first time. Felix Hernandez, Mat Latos, Josh Beckett and Gio Gonzalez comprise the rest of the must-starts, while Brandon Morrow, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza should also be used in most leagues.


None of the Sunday pitching matchups are particularly DVR-worthy, but I’ll have my eye on two games in particular. I’ve invested in Mike Minor heavily this year, and he’ll face Jon Niese in his first start. The underrated Jordan Zimmermann takes on potential out-of-nowhere fantasy star Jeff Samardzija as well. Samardzija posted a 16/1 K/BB ratio in 20 innings this spring. Feel good starting both those guys, both Braves/Mets pitchers, Ervin Santana, Vance Worley, Juan Nicasio, and of course, the recently extended Matt Cain.

Stream Team

Saturday: Chris Capuano at SD
Sunday: Jeff Samardzija vs. WAS
Monday: Henderson Alvarez vs. BOS

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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