Each Friday, we'll take a look at the weekend ahead and preview which storylines will be worth following.
My colleague Steven Goldman already laid out the important series of the weekend, so I'll refer you to his post on nine matchups to keep an eye on.
But there are several intriguing pitchers who will be appearing this weekend—some of whom need to rebound after poor debuts, others who are making their first starts of the season.
Here are five suggestions for which pitchers to watch. Who will you be following? Please post your thoughts in the comments and keep tabs throughout the weekend.
Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
The Japanese sensation did not have the debut many expected from him on Monday. Seven of the first Seattle Mariners hitters he faced reached base, with four singles and three walks. Before Darvish could get the second out of the inning, he was down 4-0.
Darvish eventually settled down, helped by his lineup pummeling Mariners starter Hector Noesi. How will he fare against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday? Pitching at Target Field would appear to help Darvish, but the Twins' offense has come alive at home.
Zito may have had the most surprising performance of the early season. With the Giants reeling after being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Zito put the losing streak to a halt with a four-hit shutout of the Colorado Rockies.
The chances of following up with another quality start look good, as Zito will face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday. The Bucs have scored the fewest runs in the majors thus far, with 11 in seven games.
Drew Pomeranz, Colorado Rockies
The centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with the Cleveland Indians makes his first start of the season, facing the D-Backs on Sunday. Pomeranz was impressive in spring training, allowing just one run in 17 innings.
The rookie made one appearance with Class Double-A Tulsa to give him work before his turn in the Rockies' rotation came up. He threw four scoreless innings but took 77 pitches to get through them, as he had trouble locating his fastball.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Hamels appears to have a good matchup against the New York Mets, who have struggled to score runs this season. (Of course, the Phillies have had problems putting runs on the board too, so Hamels might not receive much run support.)
In his first start of the season, Hamels didn't make it out of the sixth inning, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits. Maybe it was just a bad game, but is it possible that negotiations on a new contract have become the dreaded distraction players fear? Matt Cain's $121.5 million deal with the Giants may have changed everything.
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants
Vogelsong was one of the best stories of last season, coming from a career spent mostly in the minor leagues and Japan to start 28 games for the Giants. He finished with a 13-7 record and 2.71 ERA and was named to the All-Star team by his manager Bruce Bochy.
Beginning the season on the disabled list due to back spasms, Vogelsong makes his 2012 debut on Sunday, facing the Pirates. He beat his former team in his first start last season, allowing two runs in five-and-two-third innings. The Bucs got him back the next time they met, however, tagging Vogelsong for five runs and nine hits.