Fantasy baseball news, notes: Kershaw gets the W, Ramirez stays quiet
Baseball season is finally under way -- well, kind of... how weird is it that the baseball season kicked off yesterday at 4 a.m. EST, on a Saturday, in the middle of March Madness? How weird is it that the schedule-makers decided to have the Dodgers and Diamondbacks play a pair of regular season games a full week before anyone else, in Australia, on MLB Network, which is a channel that a ton of people don't have access to (Your humble writer included). Why was MLB so intent on making sure that the first games of the year would go completely unnoticed by casual fans? Just... why?
The craziest part is that the D'backs and Dodgers will both go back to playing spring training games next week, because that's not weird or anything.
But while Saturday's games technically may not be official "Opening Day" games, they nonetheless count in the regular season standings. So, as odd as it is to say, the fantasy baseball season has officially begun. Let's dive into what happened on Day 0.
• It took less than three hours for Clayton Kershaw to reassert himself as the best pitcher in baseball. In 6.2 innings, Kershaw allowed one run and five hits while striking out seven to pick up the first W of the MLB season. He had actually been pretty awful in spring training, with an ERA of 9.20 through four games, but of course, that's completely irrelevant now.
• Wade Miley had a tolerable evening, striking out eight in five innings while allowing three runs and two walks in a loss. Miley may not be a spectacular pitcher, but he has a 3.44 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over his last two seasons and can be an effective stream start in the right situations. He's the sort of player who'll get added and dropped repeatedly in leagues over the course of the season.
• Martin Prado batted in the cleanup spot for the Snakes in both games and was mediocre, going a combined 1-8 with two RBI and two runs. The Diamondbacks really don't have a go-to cleanup hitter, or even a go-to leadoff man (they used A.J. Pollack there in the two games, and he went 0-7), so you'll see Prado move around a lot as the season goes on. As much as batting cleanup could help his RBI total, he'll probably be somewhere else in the lineup by the end of the year.
• Mark Trumbo, who I assume will eventually be hitting fourth in Arizona (he hit fifth and sixth on Saturday), went 2-9 with a home run and four RBI. Weak though his batting average is likely to be, he's a near lock to hit 30 home runs again.
• Scott Van Slyke got the nod for the Dodgers in left field in the first game and went 2-3 with a homer -- the first of the season -- and two RBI. So if you were prescient enough to have added him for this series, you've earned yourself some serious kudos. Barring something bizarre, like the universe splitting in half, this should be the last time Van Slyke's name appears in a fantasy column this year.
• Hanley Ramirez was quiet in the two games, going 1-7 with no runs or RBI. Han-Ram is the best shortstop in baseball and is in a contract year, so you might as well send a trade offer for him while he's sporting an ugly .143 batting average.
• Trevor Cahill got torched in the second game, allowing eight hits, five runs and four walks in four innings, while striking out only one. Cahill is only 26, and he had a shiny 2.97 ERA with the A's back in 2010, but he's been ragingly inconsistent in Arizona and is coming off knee surgery this season. Unless he can string together a run of quality starts, there's no reason to pay attention to him this year.
• Dee Gordon hit leadoff for the Dodgers in Game 2 and went 3-4 with two runs and an RBI, though -- surprisingly -- he didn't steal a base. Gordon has the speed to potentially be an everyday fantasy asset, but he's been a weak hitter so far in his career, and with Alex Guerrero likely to be called up at some point this year, Gordon's pathway to playing time is almost entirely dependent on other people getting hurt. He could be a nice early-season find if he can stick around at the top of the lineup, but you should really only think of him as a rental option.
• Yasiel Puig went 3-10 with two RBI. Puig came into camp fatter than house, and who's to say how well his conditioning will hold up over the course of a full season. This was a solid way for him to begin the year, but it lends little insight into how well he's going to do in 2014.
• Paul Goldschmidt went 4-9 with a run. Not bad.
• Adrian Gonzalez, Goldy's counterpart, went 1-5 with three runs and, of all things, a stolen base. Yes, you should take a screenshot of the MLB league-leaders stat page, because right now, Adrian "Ow, my knees hurt" Gonzalez leads all of baseball in stolen bases. For context, he now has six regular season steals in 1,335 career games.
• Kenley Jansen got a clean save in the first game, but he struggled in the second one, allowing a two-run homer to Trumbo before striking out Gerardo Parra to end the game. Jansen, quietly, is almost as dominant as Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, and is on a team that should afford him a enormous supply of save chances. His owners have nothing to worry about.
Do you have any thoughts about Day 0 of the fantasy season? Leave it in the comments.