One of my favorite comments is that "it's only April." It comes across like the games played this month mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, to real baseball and fantasy. As of this week, more than a tenth of the season, though, is gone.
We say these games don't mean much because we don't fully understand each player and team. That's still true, but these early games help you, as an owner, define a roster and help these teams learn where they truly have holes that need to be filled.
It's a delicate balance. Panic early and you run the risk of cutting a high-reward player. Move too late and you risk not being able to fill in where there are problems. It's why understanding what we're seeing now is key. Even if it doesn't make you do something this minute, it will help you evaluate talent down the road.
Keep this in mind as we start moving into May. Moves now win championships later.
Let's get to the notes.
- Jamie Moyer against the Marlins is just bankable at this point. He ran his record to 12-1 against Florida and 7-0 in Miami. Moyer simply puts pressure on the younger hitters in that lineup, because they aren't used to being patient like he requires. Moyer feasts on youth, and it won't just be the Marlins that struggle with him this season. He's a very good road matchup, and should always be picked up against Florida.
- J.D. Drew left last night's game with tightness in his left quad. Terry Francona indicated that Drew likely won't be available tonight, so owners should keep him out of the lineup. Look for either Jeff Bailey or Jonathan Van Every to get the start for Boston against Cliff Lee.
- Michael Bowden was called up by the Red Sox yesterday to provide an extra arm in the bullpen. He worked two solid innings before giving way to Takashi Saito for the save. Bowden lived around 90-92 mph with solid action on his fastball. He may not be ready for prime time yet, but remember his strikeout of Jeter in a key situation when he is.
- I love Jordan Zimmerman's stuff. He's ready to pitch, and he's going to be able to control certain aspects of his own game. Unfortunately, as Knox Bardeen points out, and I concur, his offense isn't always going to be facing Oliver Perez. His five strikeouts were nice, but he did need over 100 pitches and didn't get through the sixth inning. The lack of offense in Washington is going to keep him struggling for wins.
- The Cubs are struggling with health. Aramis Ramirez hasn't been available and Milton Bradley has been hurt as well. Now, Derrek Lee left yesterday's game after just one at-bat. They'll need to make a move or two if only to field a team should any of these injuries continue to linger.
- Trevor Hoffman has been activated by the Brewers. They wouldn't have the guy out in the bullpen if they didn't think he were ready to close. Expect him to move back to getting the save chances for Milwaukee.
- Interesting early stat I caught this weekend. Josh Hamilton and Chris Davis are No. 1 and No. 2 when it comes to swings and misses early this season. We talked about how Davis seemed to be hitting the ball without much luck. This shows that he may not be seeing the ball entirely well right now.
- Brian McCann is hitting the DL with continued vision problems. Replacements for catchers, especially in two-catcher formats, are hard to come by. Where some owners have already lost Ryan Doumit, that makes the situation worse. Single-catcher leagues will likely still be able to find Kurt Suzuki, John Baker, and Jesus Flores. None will hurt you, but they won't replace McCann's numbers.
- Clayton Kershaw has his second tough outing in a row. Last season, he did struggle pitching on the road, and didn't fare well in his outing at Coors Field. He still generates strikeouts, but his command in the zone hasn't been solid in these appearances. Don't give up yet, but be cautious with him.
- Pitch counts should be watched for the next outings of A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett, and Tim Lincecum. All three threw a lot of pitches in order to get through their innings. Lincecum looked the best, but the other two were both close to 120 pitches without getting through six innings. Something to watch for.
- Wins-Zach Miner, Bronson Arroyo, Jamie Moyer, Russ Ohlendorf, Clayton Kershaw, Andy Pettitte; Losses-Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Silva, Mike Hampton, Jarrod Washburn (Season: 51-34-1)
Notes for Monday
- Cliff Lee's stats in his last two outings have been much better, but he's still giving up a fair amount of hits and flyballs. The Boston lineup hasn't been great against him, and they tend to not hit lefties well. Still, Lee's work hasn't been spectacular and this could be rough considering how Boston is swinging the bat. Julio Lugo will be back and playing short tonight.
- Nick Swisher is feast or famine against Justin Verlander. Swisher has just six hits in 32 at-bats, but three of those hits were for home runs. Keep normal Yankees active, as Verlander still seems to be struggling with control and command of the zone.
- Braden Looper has largely had his way with most of the Pirates lineup. Adam LaRoche is just 2-for-14, and Jack Wilson hasn't had much success either. With the injury to Ryan Doumit, and the oblique problem of Nate McLouth, there is reason to use Looper in a spot-start situation today.
- Many of the Tigers spent a lot of time facing C.C. Sabathia when he was with Cleveland. Brandon Inge struggled the most, going just 6-for-44 against tonight's starter. I wouldn't hold back on Carlos Guillen or Placido Polanco tonight. Both have good numbers against Sabathia.
- Roy Oswalt gets to face Cincinnati again. He's around 22-1 against them for his career. Earlier this month, he took a no-decision, but still pitched well against the Reds lineup. In four starts at Great American Ballpark since 2006, Oswalt has a 2.77 ERA.
- The Mets have had limited at-bats against Anibal Sanchez, and the Marlins starter has been going well of late. You're going to want to keep your regular Mets in the lineup because of the lack of history, but I like Sanchez tonight to throw a good game. Like the matchup for John Maine as well, as the Marlins don't have good numbers against him. The exception to that is Jeremy Hermida, a .385 hitter against him.
- Dan Haren has had some bad luck this season. He's been pitching very well while not getting the benefit thanks to poor run support. Given the status of most of the Cubs lineup, he's again a good play tonight. Alfonso Soriano has the best numbers of the group, but pay attention to lineup changes for this one.
- Ted Lilly has largely controlled the Diamondbacks in limited data. I wouldn't reach in this one, as Eric Byrnes, Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez are all below .250 against the Cubs starter. The three represent nearly 60 of the 100 at-bats Arizona has had against Lilly. It could be another limited night of runs for Dan Haren.
- Yes, Joel Pineiro is 3-0, but he's given up 23 hits in not even 20 innings. His numbers aren't consistent in any way, shape, or form. Against the Mets, he forced 18 grounders. Against Arizona, it was 15 fly balls. He doesn't generate strike outs (five on the season), and the WHIP could hurt. Look deeper before reaching for him.
- Randy Winn makes a good play tonight against Randy Wolf. He's 6-for-16 against the Dodgers pitcher. Keep Barry Zito down for this one. The Dodgers lineup continues to hit very well against him. Start them all.1
- Spot Starts: Jair Jurrjens, Anibal Sanchez, and Braden Looper
- Keep on the Bench: Johnny Cueto, Justin Verlander
Notes for Tuesday
- Phil Hughes will get the start for the Yankees, taking the turn of Chien-Ming Wang. Hughes was pitching well in the minors, and the Tigers lineup could be a decent start for him to get going. I'd hold off one start for certain, but look to grab him in deep leagues where you're missing starters due to injury.
- Wandy Rodriguez continues to impress me, and he's still available in about 35 percent of all leagues. Rodriguez has good numbers against the Reds, with the lone exception being Joey Votto.
- The Mets are hitting .351 against Ricky Nolasco. Given his recent struggles, I'd hold him back based on these numbers and his season so far. Sure, he could pitch well, but the .429 and .448 of David Wright and Jose Reyes, respectively, lead me to thinking otherwise.
- Might want to keep the bats of Mike Cameron (11-for-18, 3 home runs) and Bill Hall (14-for-25, 2 home runs) in the lineup againt Paul Maholm. While Maholm has controlled Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and even Ryan Braun (none above .214), he's struggled with these two.
- Depite his 4-0 record, Chad Billingsley is vulnerable to a few of the Giants hitters. Keep the usual suspects of Winn, Aaron Rowand, and Bengie Molina available. They have the best track record, and could provide a couple hits in your lineup.
- Early Spot Starts: Joe Saunders, Paul Maholm, and Rodriguez.