Skip to main content

Tracking injury, weather factors an essential part of Week 1 lineups

The first thing you need to gauge is health. Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Grady Sizemore and -- hold your breath here -- Carlos Beltran just might be ready to use in lineups when the action opens up Thursday. Chase Utley, Zack Greinke, Kendrys Morales and Jake Peavy ... not so much.

The second thing to worry about is the weather. It isn't all sunshine and fun this time of year in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Washington. One rainout in a short week could cost you a victory in head-to-head leagues. Watch your players scheduled for games in those cities, including their opponents (Pirates, Brewers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Angels, Astros and Braves).

There is very little reason to sit any of your starters this week outside of injury or weather concerns. Spring training stats mean zilch. Heck, if you follow baseball, a quiet month of March just might mean your guy is due for a loud April. Hitting is cyclical.

First, let's take a look at some savvy starts for this week, hitter-wise. We will break down the starting pitchers Wednesday before lineups lock.

By the way, Rotisserie leagues should allow you to set a lineup Thursday and another one Monday. Some head-to-head points leagues might consider the first scoring period to be March 31-April 10, a span of 11 days.

These guys are fit to play, barring any late setbacks in the coming days.

1B Morneau, MIN -- Sure, he has hit just .174 in 23 at-bats this spring with one RBI through Sunday, but the important thing is he has been able to swing the bat and play without issue off his post-concussion syndrome. The Twins play three games in Toronto this weekend and he should be able to play all three of them.

OF Mike Morse, WAS -- Morse's huge spring (nine homers) forced the Nats to shuffle their outfield and ship Nyjer Morgan off to the Brewers. Morse, at 6-feet-5, 230 pounds, is a big man with 20-plus homer potential. He warrants a look in mixed leagues now. Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel will likely share at-bats in center now. Consider them merely NL-only options.

OF Alex Gordon, KC -- This is a 27-year-old breakthrough candidate who has a huge spring and opened camp just off the mixed-league radar. The Royals are opening in Kansas City, where the weather shouldn't be too bad, save for a 30 percent chance of rain Thursday night. The Royals have four games this weekend so owners in leagues with open pickups take note.

1B Mark Trumbo, LAA -- It would have been interesting to see if Trumbo would have earned a roster spot if Morales was healthy this spring. Trumbo conveniently mashed at .309 with six homers and 20 RBIs in camp. Sure, those are the inflated numbers of the Cactus League, but Trumbo is a legit power threat worth considering as a stopgap even in mixed formats early.

1B Brett Wallace, HOU -- He likely didn't need a big spring to earn his starting job, but he came up with one regardless, hitting .365 with a homer and 18 RBIs. It makes him a nice sleeper in deeper formats at the deep first base position. Trumbo had a better spring, but Wallace is the better stopgap starter for you, because he is more certain to stick around for the whole year. Wallace could sneak up on us with a Gaby Sanchez or Ike Davis-like season.

1B Kila Ka'aihue, KC -- Speaking of new slugging first basemen, Ka'aihue is going to share first and DH with Billy Butler. It has taken him a few years to take hold with the Royals, but his time is now at hand. He hit an incredible .415 with six homers and 17 RBI this spring. Oh, and he just happens to be turning 27 this Tuesday.

Let these pitchers and hitters prove to be healthy and productive before trusting them in your lineups.

SP Mat Latos, SD -- We will go into pitching more thoroughly Wednesday, but we felt this name needs a mention here. Perhaps the Tom Verducci Effect is already having an affect on one of its poster-boys for 2011. Latos is trying to avoid the DL with a sore shoulder. Expect the Padres to play it overly cautious with their young ace. Don't use him.

OF Sizemore, CLE -- The fact Sizemore is playing in major-league spring games is telling. He should be fine for the start of the season. But it will be chilly in Cleveland, maybe even snowing Friday or Saturday. The weather makes all your Indians a risk, but one coming off a late start due to injury is especially risky.

OF Beltran, NYM -- Beltran might be able to play, but he is in no position to star, having so few at-bats and time in the outfield this spring. Sure, the Mets are going to open in sunny South Florida, but Beltran shouldn't be an everyday player out of the gate.

RP Brian Wilson, SF -- Wilson is still hopeful to be ready for the four-game series at Los Angeles this weekend. You should be skeptical and seek an alternative at your relief pitcher spot. Jeremy Affeldt, with his 0.87 ERA this spring, should get the save chances in his place. Santiago Casilla was a candidate, too, but he struggled this spring with a 7.45 ERA.

As for the slew of players who are day-to-day with various ailments late in spring, expect those to heal quickly. Playing spring games is more of a nuisance for veterans. They will answer the bell for the first week if they are not headed to the DL.

You obviously shouldn't trust any players who are headed for the DL. Here is a breakdown of the fantasy-pertinent players expected to open the season there:

Baltimore Orioles -- Brad Bergesen (arm)? and Justin Duchscherer (hip)Boston Red Sox -- Junichi Tazawa (elbow)Chicago White Sox -- Jake Peavy (shoulder)Cleveland Indians -- Jason Donald (hand)Detroit Tigers -- Joel Zumaya (elbow) and Carlos Guillen (knee)Kansas City Royals -- Jason Kendall (shoulder)L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- Kendrys Morales (ankle) and Scott Downs (toe)Minnesota Twins -- NoneNew York Yankees -- Curtis Granderson (ribs)?, Damaso Marte (shoulder), Francisco Cervelli (foot), Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) and Colin Curtis (shoulder)Oakland Athletics -- Andrew Bailey (elbow)? and Rich Harden (shoulder)Seattle Mariners -- David Aardsma (hip)Tampa Bay Rays -- J.P. Howell (shoulder)Texas Rangers -- Tommy Hunter (groin), Brandon Webb (shoulder) and Scott Feldman (knee)Toronto Blue Jays -- Brandon Morrow (shoulder), Octavio Dotel (hamstring), Frank Francisco (shoulder), Dustin McGowan (shoulder) and Scott Podsednik (foot)

Arizona Diamondbacks -- Zach Duke (hand)Atlanta Braves -- Jair Jurrjens (side)?Chicago Cubs -- NoneCincinnati Reds -- Johnny Cueto (forearm) and Homer Bailey (shoulder)Colorado Rockies -- Aaron Cook (shoulder)Florida Marlins -- NoneHouston Astros -- Clint Barmes (hand), Jason Castro (knee) and Jeff Keppinger (foot)Los Angeles Dodgers -- Casey Blake (back)?, Dioner Navarro (ribs), Jon Garland (side) and Vicente Padilla (elbow)Milwaukee Brewers -- Zack Greinke (ribs), Corey Hart (ribs), Jonathan LuCroy (hand), Manny Parra (back) and LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder)New York Mets -- Johan Santana (shoulder) and Ronny Paulino (blood)Philadelphia Phillies -- Chase Utley (knee), Brad Lidge (shoulder) and Domonic Brown (wrist)Pittsburgh Pirates -- Scott Olsen (hamstring), Kevin Hart (shoulder) and Joe Beimel (elbow)San Diego Padres -- Mat Latos (shoulder)? and Kyle Blanks (elbow)San Francisco Giants -- Brian Wilson (ribs)?St. Louis Cardinals -- Adam Wainwright (elbow) and Nick Punto (groin)Washington Nationals -- Stephen Strasburg (elbow) and Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder)

Eric Mack writes fantasy for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.