April 12, 2010

The opening week of the season played out exactly as I thought it would, except when it didn't. As I predicted, Ian Stewart tore it up, Joey Votto knocked home some runs, Colby Rasmus was always on base, and Brandon Phillips, Geovany Soto, and Raul Ibanez didn't do much of anything. Of course, I didn't foresee the Braves falling on Carlos Zambrano like a ton of bricks, and I certainly underestimated Casey McGehee. But I guess that's why they play the games.

Let's take a look at the upcoming week in the National League, with a little help from my favorite band, Guided by Voices.

Things I will keep

Johnny Cueto @ FLA; @ PIT: Cueto has been great against both Florida and Pittsburgh. In nine career starts against the two, Cueto is 7-2 with a 3.63 ERA, 9.69 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), and 3.29 K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio). He battled back after giving up a couple of runs early in his first start, and you have to like a guy who shows some resolve on the mound.

Ubaldo Jimenez @ ATL: Jimenez was solid in his first start (one ER, six Ks, and one BB in six IP), and you have to like him at Turner Field (fourth lowest NL park factor for runs, third lowest for home runs in 2009). Historically, Jimenez hasn't been outstanding against Atlanta, but does boast a 10.5 K/9 against the Braves. Expect him to get some run support, as the Rockies have been able to score on Derek Lowe (4.33 career ERA vs. Colorado).

Johan Santana @ STL: Santana isn't quite what he once was, but he's still a top NL option. He had a quality start to the season (one ER, five Ks, in six IP vs. Florida), and is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in three career starts against St. Louis. Busch Stadium favors the pitcher; in 2009 it had the fifth lowest N.L. park factor for runs and the 2nd lowest for home runs.

Jorge De La Rosa vs. NYM: 3-0 with a 3.71 ERA vs. the Mets. Brilliant in his first start, during which he kept the ball on the ground (5.0 GO/AO (Ground Out/Air Out Ratio)).

Yovani Gallardo @ WAS: 2-0, 2.57 ERA, 13.5 K/9 career vs. Washington

Cole Hamels vs. WAS; vs. FLA: 8-3, 2.37 ERA, 9.6 K/9, .220 BAA (batting average against) career vs. Washington. 9.2 K/9 career vs. Florida.

Tommy Hanson @ SD: Nice play at pitcher's paradise Petco Park; seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings in his first start.

Brian Wilson vs. PIT; @ LAD: Two saves, 10.80 K/9 this season; sub-.200 career BAA vs. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

A farewell to arms

Jason Marquis @ PHI; vs. MIL: Marquis was shelled in his first start against Philadelphia (6 ER in 4 IP), and things won't get any easier when he heads up I-95. Marquis has been dreadful in three starts at Citizen's Bank Park, sporting a 5.02 ERA, .308 BAA, and 2.093 WHIP, while walking more batters (14) than he's struck out (eight). In those outings he allowed almost half of the batters he faced to reach base. He hasn't fared much better against Milwaukee, with a career 5-8 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.479 WHIP in 19 games.

Jon Niese @ COL: Starting a pitcher at Coors Field is a calculated risk, and going with Niese doesn't add up. Niese was knocked around pretty good in his only career start against Colorado (eight hits, four earned runs in 6.1 innings), and that start was at home. Niese doesn't strike a ton of hitters out (6.3 K/9), will allow some walks, and has a .299 career BAA.

Oliver Perez @ STL: Busch Stadium may be a pitcher's park, but the normal run of things doesn't apply to Perez. His career numbers at the new Busch speak for themselves: 8.38 ERA, .372 BAA, 2.379 WHIP, 1.14 K/BB. You are free to draw your own conclusions.

Dave Bush @ CHI: 2-8, 5.13 ERA career vs. Chicago.

Jason Hammel @ ATL: Eight earned runs in nine innings pitched, .432 BAA vs. Atlanta.

Felipe Paulino @ CHI: Got rocked in his only career start against the Cubs. 5-12 career record, gives up almost one home run per game.

George Sherrill vs. ARZ; vs. SF: Three earned runs, two walks, and one home run in 1.2 IP. Historically bad against Arizona.

Craig Stammen @ PHI: Got knocked around against Philly last week; expect more of the same.

Two-start pitchers

A proud and booming industry ...

Johnny Cueto @ FLA 4/12; @ PIT 4/17Cole Hamels vs. WAS 4/12; vs. FLA 4/18Jair Jurrjens @ SD 4/12; vs. COL 4/17Clayton Kershaw vs. ARZ 4/13; vs. SF 4/18Adam Wainwright vs. HOU 4/12; vs. NYM 4/18

As we go up we go down ...

Bronson Arroyo @ FLA 4/13; @ PIT 4/18Ryan Dempster vs. MIL 4/12; vs. HOU 4/18Ian Kennedy @ LAD 4/13; @ SD 4/18Ricky Nolasco vs. CIN 4/12; @ PHI 4/17Wandy Rodriquez @STL 4/12; @ CHI 4/18Barry Zito vs. PIT 4/12; @ LAD 4/18

Men who create fright ...

Doug Davis @ CHI 4/12; @ WAS 4/17John Maine @ COL 4/13; @ STL 4/18Jason Marquis @ PHI 4/12; vs. MIL 4/18Ross Ohlendorf @ SF 4/12; vs. CIN 4/18Nate Robertson vs. CIN 4/13; @ PHI 4/18Greg Smith vs. NYM 4/13; @ ATL 4/18

Don't stop now

Jason Bay, OF: Bay is off to a solid start with his new team, posting a .364 AVG, .462 OBP (on-base percentage), and 1.098 OPS (on-base plus slugging). He should keep that going when he visits Coors Field, where he's a career .309 hitter, with three HRs, 12 RBIs, and four SBs in 16 games. When he visits St. Louis you'll want to have him in the lineup against Adam Wainwright (6-for-17), but you'll want no part of him against Chris Carpenter (2-for-26). Bay has 13 career home runs against St. Louis (fourth most against all NL teams). He hasn't left the yard or knocked in a run yet this year, but I say he's due.

Edgar Renteria, SS: Renteria has been raking so far, with a .727 AVG, .818 SLG (slugging percentage), and 1.604 OPS. He's 6-for-16 against Pirates' probables Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, and Chalie Morton. When he travels to Los Angeles, he's struggled against Clayton Kershaw (0-for-4), but he's owned Vicente Padilla (8-for-19, two HRs, six RBIs, 1.293 OPS). Renteria will eventually come back to Earth, so get it while the getting's good.

Ian Stewart, 2B/3B: I liked him last week and my opinion hasn't changed. Stewart is off to a fantastic start, with two HRs, a .400 AVG, 1.300 SLG, and 1.717 OPS. He starts the week at Coors Field against the Mets, and is 2-for-5 against probable starters John Maine, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. He then visits pitcher-friendly Turner Field, where I would start him in the first two games, but would sit him against Jair Jurrjens, against whom he's 1-for-13 with six strikeouts.

Andrew McCutchen, OF: Has all the tools and is off to a good start (.308 AVG, .742 OPS); five steals, two HRs, .483 OBP in 13 games vs. Cincinnati.

Placido Polanco, 2B: .500 AVG, 1.357 OPS, six RBIs, five runs so far; owns the Nats and is pretty good against the Marlins.

Martin Prado, 1B/2B/3B: Scorching start (.583 AVG, 1.635 OPS) and triple position eligibility make him a great play.

Ivan Rodriguez, C: .323 career AVG vs. Philadelphia, 6-for-15 at home in his brief Nationals career.

Cody Ross, OF: Battled back from strained calf to get off to a hot start (.308 AVG). Career .313 AVG, 1.048 OPS vs. Pittsburgh.

Not so fast

Michael Bourn, OF: Bourn's value is in stolen bases; but it's hard to steal if you can't get on base. Bourn's OBP is a pathetic .167, and seeing as how his career April OBP is lower than in any other month, I don't expect things to turn around right away. Bourn has struck out four of the 12 times he stepped in the batters' box, so he's not even putting the ball in play and making the defense work. He has had success against some of the starters he'll face this week (Adam Wainwright, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster), so if you don't have any other options all hope is not lost, but I would look for help elsewhere.

Adam Dunn, 1B: Strikeouts are part of the package with Dunn, and fantasy owners know that going in. However, it would be nice to have some power numbers to come along for the ride. Dunn has delivered on the former (three Ks in nine at-bats), but not the latter (no home runs, .222 SLG). Against upcoming opponents Philadelphia and Milwaukee, Dunn has averaged over a strikeout per game. Cole Hamels constantly takes Dunn behind the woodshed, striking him out seven times in 17 PAs (plate appearances). Yovani Gallardo has also gotten a piece of that action, whiffing Dunn five times in 12 PAs.

Andy LaRoche, 3B: With the Pedro Alvarez era ready to begin at any minute, LaRoche can't afford not to hit; and not hitting is precisely what he's done. LaRoche's offensive numbers are putrid (.111 AVG, .496 OPS), and he's already made one error. His career numbers against San Francisco (.204 AVG, .283 OBP, .598 OPS) and Cincinnati (.184 AVG, .287 OBP, .551 OPS) are very poor, and he's had no success at AT&T Park (.194 AVG, .286 OBP, .641 OPS).

Raul Ibanez, OF: 1-for-11 to start the season.

Akinori Iwamura, 2B: 1-for-12 start; has managed three walks in 15 PAs.

James Loney, 1B: Off to a slow start; will spend the week in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium where his offensive markedly decreases (AVG --.050, OPS -- .184, SLG -- .143).

Cameron Maybin, OF: Decent start, but he faces Johnny Cueto, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels this week.

Geovany Soto, C: 38 strikeouts in 32 games against Milwaukee and Florida.

Nyjer Morgan has been setting the table for the Nats, with three runs and two SBs ... All three of Garrett Jones' hits have been home runs, and he's knocked in six runs (he also has dual 1B/OF eligibility) ... Ronnie Belliard has triple eligibility (1B/2B/3B) and is 3-for-7 ... Yunel Escobar has knocked in five runs ... Casey McGehee is hitting .455 with a dinger and three RBIs, and is eligible at 2B and 3B ... Mark DeRosa is eligible at 1B/3B/OF and is hitting .333 with a home run and four runs scored.

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