Planning your fantasy pitching staff usually is about loading up on two-start pitchers with favorable matchups. But Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball and former Brewers owner, has something new for us with the early Thursday start to the baseball season:
Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo is one out of the gate, slated to start Thursday, March 31, Tuesday, April 5 and Sunday, April 10 -- if your head-to-head points league considers March 31-April 10 its first scoring period, as many Yahoo! leagues do. Most Rotisserie leagues allow roster changes this coming Monday, but some head-to-head leagues lock this Thursday for the rare 11-day, 10-game extended scoring period to start to the season.
It should make for one heck of an opening week of scoring for some lucky aces.
Selig couldn't have been thinking about Gallardo here, but we all should be. He is this writer's sleeper pick for NL Cy Young. A 3-0 start to the season could conveniently make him a wire-to-wire favorite.
The baseball season traditionally starts in Cincy and it will with an intriguing storyline of the defending NL Central champion Reds playing host to the trendy 2011 pick in the division, the Brewers. Prince Fielder is in a contract year, the Brewers significantly bolstered their rotation with the addition of the underrated Shaun Marcum and understated Zack Greinke (when he returns from the DL after his rib heals) and this first three-game series can set an interesting tone in that race.
Gallardo, specifically, could set a dominant tone for fantasy owners out of the gate.
• Justin Verlander, Edinson Volquez and Livan Hernandez are not true candidates to start three times, since their teams have Friday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 5 as off-days on the schedule. Those teams also figure to open with five-man rotations anyway.
• The Padres can start with a four-man rotation, but Tim Stauffer won't be a three-start pitcher because of off-days Friday, Tuesday and Thursday. Aaron Harang is tentatively slated to start the home opener April 5 at this point. Stauffer could be used on regular rest if the Padres decide to sit Harang after his poor final spring outing.
• As for the Giants and ace Tim Lincecum, the schedule allows them to go with a four-man rotation, but they likely only do that if Madison Bumgarner's spring struggles force the Giants to hold him out until the first time a No. 5 starter is necessary, April 12 vs. the Dodgers. Nothing has been decided to that end yet.
Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals
If you want to exploit some matchups, look to the worst teams in baseball, of course. The Orioles, Royals, Indians, Mariners, Nationals, Astros, Pirates and Diamondbacks are pretty sure to be sub-.500 clubs. The Padres could be, too.
Most of these teams are facing strong front-end rotations while throwing low-end fantasy starters back at them for the most part. It should be a good week for your Phillies, Rays, Cubs and Cardinals starters especially.
Note: Considering just the less-than-obvious fantasy arms, a player in
There used to be 26 week-ending Sundays in the fantasy baseball calendar. There are still that many, but if your league counts the extended March 31-April 10 as the first scoring period, there is going to be a brief three-game period in Fantasy Week 26 (Sept. 26-28) for you.
That could be your league's scheduled clincher for the World Series in head-to-head leagues. The advice here is to move it up to the full Fantasy Week 25 (Sept. 18-25). You don't want your league title decided by a short week where many aces might not even pitch.
Now, let's play ball!