Complete Guide to MLB Opening Day 2013

Joe GiglioContributor IMarch 28, 2013

Complete Guide to MLB Opening Day 2013

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    There's something about Opening Day that feels different than the opening of other professional sports calenders.

    Sure, we can be reasonable and admit that a game on April 1 is truly no different than one on June 14.

    But where is the fun in that?

    Opening Day is a special event marked by parades, pageantry and renewed hope for the upcoming season.

    Considering the era of parity around the sport, that hope is justified. With wiser front-office vision, revenue sharing and an additional wild card in each league, the postseason is a viable goal for most teams.

    Much like the first two days of March Madness, it's a great day to call in sick, sit back and enjoy the ride.

    After all, the great Yogi Berra once said: "A home opener is always exciting whether it's home or on the road."

    Here is a complete guide to Opening Day around Major League Baseball.

Red Sox vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m. EDT, Yankee Stadium

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    Probable pitchers: Jon Lester vs. C.C. Sabathia

    Sabathia will be making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start for New York. Lester is set to become the first Red Sox pitcher to start three consecutive Opening Days since Pedro Martinez held the honor for seven straight years between 1998-2004.

     

    Projected starting lineups

    Boston Red Sox

    1. CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
    2. RF: Shane Victorino
    3. 2B: Dustin Pedroia
    4. 1B: Mike Napoli
    5. 3B: Will Middlebrooks
    6. DH: Jonny Gomes
    7. C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    8. LF: Jackie Bradley
    9. SS: Jose Iglesias

     

    New York Yankees

    1. CF: Brett Gardner
    2. RF: Ichiro Suzuki
    3. 2B: Robinson Cano
    4. 3B: Kevin Youkilis
    5. DH: Travis Hafner
    6. LF: Vernon Wells
    7. 1B: Lyle Overbay
    8. SS: Eduardo Nunez
    9. C: Chris Stewart 

    Storylines to watch: Doom and gloom surrounds both these two franchises. Boston is trying to bounce back from a 69-93 campaign. New York is attempting to avoid falling under .500 for the first time in decades.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has the out-of-market fans covered. ESPN will be in New York for a national broadcast.

    Must follows on Twitter: For the Boston faithful, Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe). For the New York crowd, Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) and Swenny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) give you a combination of sarcasm and reality through the nine innings.

    Impact rookies:
    ESPN's Buster Olney compared Jackie Bradley, Jr. to Derek Jeter in an interview with WEEI. He's worth checking out, Sox fans.

    Fantasy advice:
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a career .100 hitter against C.C. Sabathia. If you have another catching option, use it.

Marlins vs. Nationals, 1:05 p.m. EDT, Nationals Park

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    Probable pitchers: Ricky Nolasco vs. Stephen Strasburg

    The all-time Marlins win leader, Nolasco, takes the hill on Opening Day for the first time since 2009. On the other side, Washington fans will get their first glimpse of Strasburg without the specter of an innings limit.

     

    Projected starting lineups:

    Miami Marlins

    1. LF: Juan Pierre
    2. 2B: Donovan Solano
    3. RF: Giancarlo Stanton
    4. 3B: Placido Polanco
    5. C: Rob Brantly
    6. CF: Chris Coghlan
    7. 1B: Casey Kotchman
    8. SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
    9. SP: Ricky Nolasco

     

    Washington Nationals

    1. CF: Denard Span
    2. RF: Jayson Werth
    3. LF: Bryce Harper
    4. 3B: Ryan Zimmerman
    5. 1B: Adam LaRoche
    6. SS: Ian Desmond
    7. 2B: Danny Espinosa
    8. C: Kurt Suzuki
    9. SP: Stephen Strasburg

    Storylines to watch: Outside of Houston, Miami could field the worst team in baseball. Protecting a slugger like Giancarlo Stanton with Placido Polanco seems like an exercise in futility, but manager Mike Redmond really doesn't have many options.

    On the other side, the Nationals will enter a season with expectations for the first time in their history. Everyone knows how good they are, but can they be great?

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. If given a choice, the Marlins broadcast team, led by the great Dave Van Horne, is the choice over Washington's coverage on MASN.

    Must follows on Twitter: Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) was passionate about Omar Infante's All-Star merits last season. That's enough to warrant a follow.

    No one on the planet knows more about the (short) history of the Nationals than Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN).

    Impact rookies: Adeiny Hechavarria was once a prized signing for the Toronto Blue Jays. He's now tasked with replacing Jose Reyes. Good luck, kid.

    Fantasy advice: Juan Pierre is a .500 career hitter against Stephen Strasburg. All things considered, that's probably Opening Day's coolest stat.

Padres vs. Mets, 1:10 p.m. EDT, Citi Field

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    Probable pitchers: Edinson Volquez vs. Jon Niese

    If you're looking for aesthetically pleasing pitching, Ed Volquez probably isn't your guy. He walked 13 percent of the batters he faced last season, the highest rate in MLB. Niese has been thrust into the Opening Day starter role due to a Johan Santana injury. If he can build off a stellar 2012, this might not be the last time we seem him in this spot.

    Projected starting lineups:

    San Diego Padres

    1. SS: Everth Cabrera
    2. 3B: Jedd Gyorko
    3. 1B: Yonder Alonso
    4. LF: Carlos Quentin
    5. RF: Will Venable 
    6. CF: Cameron Maybin
    7. C: Nick Hundley
    8. 2B: Alexi Amarista
    9. SP: Edinson Volquez

    New York Mets

    1. CF: Collin Cowgill
    2. 2B: Daniel Murphy
    3. 3B: David Wright
    4. 1B: Ike Davis
    5. RF: Marlon Byrd
    6. LF: Lucas Duda
    7. C: John Buck
    8. SS: Ruben Tejada
    9. SP: Jon Niese

    Storylines to watch: The promise of better days ahead for New York and San Diego, respectively. The Mets have high-end prospects on the way. San Diego went 47-36 down the stretch last season and will get Chase Headley back within two months.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. This decision is easy, baseball fans. SNY is the only choice for your coverage. For those uninitiated, catch Ron Darling's work breaking down the game. There's a chance you'll be seeing it on a national level soon

    Must follows on Twitter: Evan Roberts (@JoeandEvan), co-host of Beningo and Roberts on WFAN, is a unabashed Mets fan that you can relate to. Geoff Young (@ducksnorts) tweets about the Pads at a pace no man could match. 

    Impact rookies: Second base, third base, hanging out with his wife at spring training and a last name most will mispronounce (JER-ko), Padres rookie Jedd Gyorko is a player to watch. 

    Fantasy advice: Daniel Murphy is a .400 career hitter against Edinson Volquez. If he's healthy enough to be in the Mets lineup, he should be in yours too.

Cubs vs. Pirates, 1:35 p.m. EDT, PNC Park

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    Probable pitchers: Jeff Samardzija vs. A.J. Burnett

    Samardzija will start his 2013 season in the same place his 2012 campaign ended. The 28-year-old strikeout artist was shut down after reaching an innings limit last September. He went out with a complete game, nine-strikeout performance against Pittsburgh.

    Burnett, 36, is contemplating retirement after the 2013 season (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). If he pitches close to the way he did in 2012—3.51 ERA, 31 starts, 202.1 innings—someone will pay him big money to change his mind.

    Projected starting lineups:

    Chicago Cubs

    1. CF: David DeJesus
    2. SS: Starlin Castro
    3. 1B: Anthony Rizzo
    4. LF: Alfonso Soriano
    5. RF: Nate Schierholtz
    6. 3B: Luis Valbuena
    7. C: Wellington Castillo
    8. 2B: Darwin Barney
    9. SP: Jeff Samardzija

     

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    1. LF: Starling Marte
    2. 2B: Neil Walker
    3. CF: Andrew McCutchen
    4. 3B: Pedro Alvarez
    5. 1B: Garrett Jones
    6. C: Russell Martin
    7. RF: Travis Snider
    8. SS: Clint Barmes
    9. SP: A.J. Burnett

    Storylines to watch: Pittsburgh's quest to reach the .500 plateau. Despite improving from 57 to 72 to 79 wins over the last three seasons, the goal remains to finish a season strong and with a winning record.

    In Chicago, the rebuilding effort under Theo Epstein is in year two. If Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro can take leaps toward All-Star status, the process will take a leap forward.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. Bob Walk is a must listen on the Pirates broadcast.

    Must follows on Twitter: The Cubs' (@Cubs) official Twitter account recently posted a video of Jim Belushi running the bases at Wrigley Field. Is there anything else you need to know about them?

    Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) once came on my radio show on the Jersey Shore to preview the Pirates' season. In retrospect, it didn't fit the demographic. Rob knows his Pirates, though.

    Impact rookies: Anthony Rizzo used up his rookie status last summer, but is still flying under the radar. He has 30-plus home run power for Chicago.

    Fantasy advice: Starlin Castro is a .462 career hitter against A.J. Burnett.

Rockies vs. Brewers, 2:10 p.m. EDT, Miller Park

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    Probable pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Yovani Gallardo

    Chacin was penciled in atop the Rockies rotation last year before a nerve injury sidelined him for most of the season.

    Gallardo is one of the more under-appreciated pitchers in baseball. He's posted four consecutive seasons of 200-plus strikeouts. 

    Projected starting lineups:

    Colorado Rockies

    1. CF: Dexter Fowler
    2. 2B: Josh Rutledge
    3. LF: Carlos Gonzalez
    4. SS: Troy Tulowitzki
    5. RF: Michael Cuddyer
    6. 1B: Todd Helton
    7. C: Wilin Rosario
    8. 3B: Chris Nelson
    9. SP: Jhoulys Chacin

     

    Milwaukee Brewers

    1. RF: Norichika Aoki
    2. 2B: Rickie Weeks
    3. LF: Ryan Braun
    4. 3B: Aramis Ramirez
    5. C: Jonathan Lucroy
    6. 1B: Alex Gonzalez
    7. CF: Carlos Gomez
    8. SS: Jean Segura
    9. SP: Yovani Gallardo

    Story lines to watch: Milwaukee went 36-13 down the stretch last year, nearly sneaking into the postseason. With a potent lineup led by MLB's Enemy No. 1, Ryan Braun, they can surprise in the NL Central.

    Colorado is on course for a rough season, but possess a must-watch 3-4 combo in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. If you're fond of baseball on the radio, stream the Brewers Radio Network. Bob Uecker makes baseball fun.

    Must follows on Twitter: Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) has an awesome dog in his avatar. Plus, he's covered the Rockies for over a decade.

    Tom Haudricourt (@Haudricourt) is the rare Twitter user that goes by his first name on the social media site. He knows his Brewers too.

    Impact rookies: Jean Segura was the main prize that Milwaukee received from Los Angeles in the Zach Greinke deal last year. He'll get his chance to make that trade a boom for the Brewers.

    Fantasy advice: Aramis Ramirez is a .417 career hitter against Chacin.

Angels vs. Reds, 4:10 p.m. EDT, Great American Ball Park

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    Probable pitchers: Jered Weaver vs. Johnny Cueto

    Weaver defies the logic of xFIP and FIP on a yearly basis. While some expect him to decline, he posted top-five Cy Young finishes on a yearly basis.

    Cueto threw seven innings of shutout ball to open last year for Cincinnati. He saved his best spring outing for last, shutting out the Cubs over six innings on Tuesday.

    Projected starting lineups:

    Los Angeles Angels

    1. CF: Mike Trout
    2. SS: Erick Aybar
    3. 1B: Albert Pujols
    4. RF: Josh Hamilton
    5. LF: Mark Trumbo
    6. 2B: Howard Kendrick
    7. 3B: Alberto Callaspo
    8. C: Chris Iannetta
    9. SP: Jered Weaver

     

    Cincinnati Reds

    1. CF: Shin-Soo Choo
    2. 2B: Brandon Phillips
    3. 1B: Joey Votto
    4. LF: Ryan Ludwick
    5. RF: Jay Bruce
    6. 3B: Todd Frazier
    7. SS: Zack Cozart
    8. C: Ryan Hanigan
    9. SP: Johnny Cueto

    Storylines to watch: Mike Trout's encore. Shin-Soo Choo attempting to become a center fielder. Joey Votto's plate discipline. Los Angeles becoming the first AL team to open a season in an inter-league game. The debatable decision by Cincinnati to keep Ardolis Chapman in a closers role.

    Also, in some circles, this will be referred to as the George Knox series.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. In my opinion, there are few better play-by-play broadcasters in baseball than Victor Rojas of the Angels. That being said, Thom Brennaman has an uncanny ability to let the game breathe while providing energy. You can't lose here.

    Must follows on Twitter: Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) has your Angels questions answered before you can think them up. John Fay (@johnfayman) believes in the merits of on-base percentage as it correlates to scoring runs. He's OK in my book.

    Impact rookies: These are a pair of veteran teams that may meet again in late October. In lieu of rookies to watch, keep an eye on how sophomores Mike Trout and Todd Frazier handle their second seasons. Some expect regression from Trout.

    Fantasy advice: Shin-Soo Choo is a .448 career hitter against Jered Weaver.

Tigers vs. Twins, 4:10 p.m. EDT, Target Field

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    Probable pitchers: Justin Verlander vs. Vance Worley

    Verlander is the most valuable pitcher in the game. His consistent dominance gives Detroit a presence on the mound every fifth day. Despite seven less wins and three more losses, you can make the case that he was better in 2012 than during his MVP season of 2011.

    Worley came over to Minnesota in the Ben Revere trade with Philadelphia. Out of the shadow of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, he'll have a chance to emerge as a rotation leader in Minnesota.

    Projected starting lineups

    Detroit Tigers

    1. CF: Austin Jackson
    2. RF: Torii Hunter
    3. 3B: Miguel Cabrera
    4. 1B: Prince Fielder
    5. DH: Victor Martinez
    6. LF: Andy Dirks
    7. SS: Jhonny Peralta
    8. C: Alex Avila
    9. 2B: Omar Infante

    Minnesota Twins

    1. CF: Aaron Hicks
    2. 2B: Brian Dozier
    3. C: Joe Mauer
    4. LF: Josh Willingham
    5. 1B: Justin Morneau
    6. RF: Chris Parmelee
    7. DH: Ryan Doumit
    8. 3B: Trevor Plouffe
    9. SS: Pedro Florimon

    Storylines to watch: Detroit adding Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter to a World Series lineup. Jim Leyland's closer by committee after prospect Bruce Rondon was sent down to Triple-A. Cold weather in outdoor Target Field. Worley's apprenticeship under the star pitchers in Philadelphia.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. As long as Bert Blyleven doesn't curse, the Twins broadcast team does an excellent job.

    Must follows on Twitter: After Detroit announced that light-hitting utility man Don Kelly made the Opening Day roster, Fake Jim Leyland (@FakeLeyland) sent out the following tweet: "DON KELLY IS WINNING THE TRIPLE CROWN THIS YEAR."

    LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) is the best Twins scribe on social media.

    Impact rookies: Twins general manager Terry Ryan scoffed at the notion of leaving Aaron Hicks in Triple-A because of an arbitration clock. It's hard to argue after watching Hicks post a 1.101 OPS this spring.

    "The guy has earned it," Ryan said of the former 14th overall draft pick in 2008 (via the Pioneer Press). "I find it almost humorous that people are talking about service time, starting the clock. We didn't trade (Denard) Span and (Ben) Revere to stall the next guy.

    "I don't know in the last 20 years or however long Bill (Smith) and I have been in the general manager's job that we have put a guy back because of service time. Who have we done that to? I don't recall it."

    Fantasy advice: Over the last five years, Justin Morneau has a .138 average against Justin Verlander. In this battle of Justins, sit the hitter.

Royals vs. White Sox, 4:10 p.m. EDT, U.S. Cellular Field

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    Probable pitchers: James Shields vs. Chris Sale

    Shields is expected to become the ace that helps lead Kansas City back to the postseason for the first time in a generation. He's a lock for 200-plus innings, but he must prove that his career home-road splits weren't a product of a pitchers park in Tampa and creative defense by the Rays. Shields' road ERA (4.54) is over a run higher than his home mark (3.33). He'll get his shot early in Chicago.

    Sale came out of nowhere to become a Randy Johnson clone last season. If his 121-inning increase from 2011 to 2012 doesn't show ill effects, dominance is to follow.

    Projected starting lineups:

    Kansas City Royals

    1. LF: Alex Gordon
    2. SS: Alcides Escobar
    3. DH: Billy Butler
    4. 3B: Mike Moustakas
    5. C: Salvador Perez
    6. 1B: Eric Hosmer
    7. CF: Lorenzo Cain
    8. RF: Jeff Francoeur
    9. 2B: Chris Getz

    Chicago White Sox

    1. CF: Alejandro De Aza
    2. 3B: Jeff Keppinger
    3. RF: Alex Rios
    4. 1B: Paul Konerko
    5. DH: Adam Dunn
    6. LF: Dayan Viciedo
    7. SS: Alexei Ramirez
    8. C: Tyler Flowers
    9. 2B: Gordon Beckham

    Storylines to watch: Kansas City's pursuit of October baseball. Emerging stars like Sal Perez and Eric Hosmer. The annually underrated Alex Gordon. Paul Konerko's remarkable consistency. Chicago's ability to keep pitchers healthy, pitch counts and inning limits be damned.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. If you do one thing on Opening Day, please refrain from listening to Hawk Harrelson on the White Sox broadcast.

    Must-follows on Twitter: Rany Jazzayerli (@jazzayerli) is such a good writer that I read everything he posts about the Royals, despite the fact that I'm not a Kansas City fan.

    Phil Rogers (@ChiTribRogers) tells it like it is about the White Sox for the Chicago Tribune.

    Impact rookies: Focus on Kansas City's young catcher, Salvador Perez. If he's as good as some have pegged him to be (think the AL version of Yadier Molina), the Royals are poised for a leap.

    Fantasy advice: Billy Butler can hit anyone. That includes three home runs off Sale last year.

Giants vs. Dodgers, 4:10 p.m. EDT, Dodger Stadium

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    Probable pitchers: Matt Cain vs. Clayton Kershaw

    Does it get any better than this? In Cain and Kershaw, two of baseball's best pitchers will square off. Both are dominant, but in different ways.

    Cain has never struck out 200 batters in a season, yet has pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA in three of the last four years. On the other hand, Kerhsaw has struck out 200-plus batters in three straight seasons, and never has pitched a full season without striking out at least one batter per inning.

    Projected starting lineups:

    San Francisco Giants

    1. CF: Angel Pagan
    2. 2B: Marco Scutaro
    3. 3B: Pablo Sandoval
    4. C: Buster Posey
    5. RF: Hunter Pence
    6. 1B: Brandon Belt
    7. LF: Gregor Blanco
    8. SS: Brandon Crawford
    9. SP: Matt Cain

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    1. LF: Carl Crawford
    2. 2B: Mark Ellis
    3. CF: Matt Kemp
    4. 1B: Adrian Gonzalez
    5. RF: Andre Ethier
    6. SS: Luis Cruz
    7. C: A.J. Ellis
    8. 3B: Nick Punto
    9. SP: Clayton Kershaw

    Storylines to watch: Pressure on Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly to win early and often. San Fran's quiet but successful approach to winning championships. Los Angeles' payroll. Tim Lincecum's fall from stardom.

    Viewing guide: ESPN is broadcasting the game as part of its Opening Day triple-header.

    Must follows on Twitter: Any time you can follow an owner of a team on Twitter, it's a must. Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) gives you that opportunity.

    In Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs), you can follow a Giants beat reporter for CSN and a Jeopardy star. Not a bad combo, folks.

    Impact rookies: Look out for Dodgers lefty Ryu Hyun-jin to start Game 2 of this series. The 26-year-old is being asked to be a solid major leaguer from the jump.

    Fantasy advice: Buster Posey is great, except when he faces Clayton Kershaw. His .182 career average against isn't pretty.

Phillies vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. EDT, Turner Field

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    Probable pitchers: Cole Hamels vs. Tim Hudson

    Hamels is the new "ace" in Philadelphia. Tabbed as the Opening Day starter over Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, he'll be expected to duplicate or better his 2012 season (17-6, 3.05 ERA).

    Hudson has probably been passed by Kris Medlen on the Braves depth chart, but gets the Opening Day nod from Fredi Gonzalez. He allowed two or fewer runs in three outings last year against the Phillies.

    Projected starting lineups:

    Philadelphia Phillies

    1. SS: Jimmy Rollins
    2. 2B: Chase Utley
    3. 3B: Michael Young
    4. 1B: Ryan Howard
    5. LF: Laynce Nix
    6. RF: Domonic Brown
    7. CF: Ben Revere
    8. C: Erik Kratz
    9. SP: Cole Hamels

    Atlanta Braves

    1. SS: Andrelton Simmons
    2. RF: Jason Heyward
    3. LF: Justin Upton
    4. 1B: Freddie Freeman
    5. CF: B.J. Upton
    6. 2B: Dan Uggla
    7. 3B: Juan Francisco
    8. C: Gerald Laird
    9. SP: Tim Hudson

    Storylines to watch: High expectations for the Upton-Upton-Heyward outfield. Philadelphia attempting to ward off age and decline for one more run. Chipper Jones' absence from the Braves lineup. Domonic Brown emerging for Philadelphia, years after his top prospect status.

    Viewing guide: ESPN has you covered as part of their Opening Day triple-header.

    Must-follows on Twitter: CSN Phily's Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidman) gives the most in-depth analysis out there.

    Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAplin), Atlanta's Radio Network Reporter, is thorough and armed with the Braves news you need.

    Impact rookies: Watch out for an impact season from Domonic Brown. His rookie status may be used up, but this will be his first full shot at playing time.

    Fantasy advice: Ryan Howard is looking to bounce back in a big way. Facing Tim Hudson should help. The Big Piece is a .351 hitter against Hudson since 2008.

Mariners vs. Athletics, 10:05 p.m. EDT, O.co Coliseum

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    Probable pitchers: Felix Hernandez vs. Brett Anderson

    Hernandez, fresh off signing a $175 million contract this winter, will be making his fifth career Opening Day start against Oakland. He's never lost one.

    Anderson was tabbed as the Opening Day starter among a group of young hurlers because manager Bob Melvin believes he's ready to lead the staff.

    Projected starting lineups:

    Seattle Mariners

    1. RF: Michael Saunders
    2. 3B: Kyle Seager
    3. DH Kendrys Morales
    4. LF: Michael Morse
    5. 1B: Justin Smoak
    6. C: Jesus Montero
    7. 2B: Dustin Ackley
    8. CF: Franklin Gutierrez
    9. SS: Brendan Ryan

    Oakland Athletics

    1. CF: Coco Crisp
    2. SS: Jed Lowrie
    3. RF: Josh Reddick
    4. LF: Yoenis Cespedes
    5. 1B: Brandon Moss
    6. DH: Seth Smith
    7. 3B: Josh Donaldson
    8. C: John Jaso
    9. 2B: Eric Sogard

    Storylines to watch: Seattle's attempt at improving its offense with the Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse acquisitions. Oakland's platoon system paying dividends once again.

    Viewing guide: MLB.TV has you covered. Dave Sims and the Root Sports team provide great flow and analysis of M's games.

    Must follows on Twitter: CSN's Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattCSN) is an Emmy Award winner for a reason.

    Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) gives you every Mariners angle possible for MLB.com.

    Impact rookies: Brandon Maurer, a 22-year-old right-hander who has zero experience above Double-A, earned a rotation spot for Eric Wedge's group in Seattle.

    Fantasy advice: Felix Hernandez has a career 2.82 ERA against Oakland.

Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks, 10:10 PM EDT, Chase Field

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    Probable pitchers: Adam Wainwright vs. Ian Kennedy

    Wainwright, recently inked to a $97.5 million deal, is now the clear leader of the staff with Chris Carpenter set for retirement. St. Louis paid him for what he is: an ace and leader of their staff.

    On the surface, Ian Kennedy's numbers looked significantly worse from 2011 (21-4, 2.88) to 2012 (15-12, 4.02). Dig deeper, and you'll see a different story.

    Despite what those numbers may have you believe, Kennedy wasn't much different of a pitcher. Instead, he suffered from some bad luck.

    His BABIP jumped from .270 to .306, HR/FB percentage from 7.7 to 10.8 and HR/9 from 0.77 to 1.21.

    Considering his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates were nearly identical in both seasons, Kennedy is a bounce-back candidate.

    Projected starting lineups:

    St. Louis Cardinals

    1. CF: Jon Jay
    2. RF: Carlos Beltran
    3. LF: Matt Holliday
    4. 1B: Allen Craig
    5. C: Yadier Molina
    6. 3B: Matt Carpenter
    7. 2B: Daniel Descalso
    8. SS: Pete Kozma
    9. SP: Adam Wainwright

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    1. 3B: Martin Prado
    2. CF: Gerardo Parra
    3. 2B: Aaron Hill
    4. C: Miguel Montero
    5. 1B: Paul Goldschmidt
    6. LF: Jason Kubel
    7. RF: A.J. Pollock
    8. SS: Cliff Pennington
    9. SP: Ian Kennedy

    Story lines to watch: The new "gritty" player profile for the Arizona front office. St. Louis incorporating young players into the mix while not losing its way in the standings.

    Viewing guide: ESPN2 has you covered with the last nationally televised game of Opening Day.

    Must follows on Twitter: Derrick Goold (@dgoold) has your Cardinals answers. Nick Piecorro (@nickpiecorro) is the source for D'Backs news and analysis.

    Impact rookies: The Oscar Tavares watch is on in St. Louis. While there's not a spot for him right now, the first knee soreness from Carlos Beltran could change that quickly.

    Fantasy advice: Miguel Montero is a .364 career hitter against Adam Wainwright.

    Excited for Opening Day? Comment below, follow me on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports or "Like" my Facebook page to talk all things baseball.