Here we go with today's news and notes...
Shin-Soo Choo and Orlando Cabrera are both worth starting against Mark Buehrle, but that is about it for the Indians. While Choo checks in at .385 in 26 at-bats and Cabrera is hitting .333 in 45, no one else that you will see in the lineup cracks .233. Keep them all on the bench for this one.
Fausto Carmona, for some reason, is among my sleeper pitchers this year. He has done admirably well against the White Sox and is unlikely to face Mark Teahen with Brent Morel being given the starting job at third base. Teahen had been hitting .382 in 34 at-bats against Carmona. Alex Rios steps in at just 3-for-18 and Carmona was 3-0 against the White Sox in 2010.
Ryan Dempster posted a 1.88 ERA this spring and the Pirates have had virtually no luck against him as individuals. That said, he was 0-3 against Pittsburgh with a 6.88 ERA in three starts against them in 2010. He gave up 13 runs on 19 hits in 17 innings of work.
Certainly there are some concerns as to if Josh Johnson is fully healthy, but the Mets are a good team for him to test that against. Johnson has stymied the New York bats, holding Beltran, Wright and Reyes all below .233 averages in better than 20 at-bats each. While Johnson held the Mets to a .219 average against him last season, he was 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts against them.
As good as King Felix is, there are still players that you should start against him in this one against Oakland. Daric Barton is at .304 in 23 at-bats while David DeJesus is a .364 hitter in 22. Good marks are found with Kurt Suzuki as well. Nothing else good to report. Avoid Hideki Matsui, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Coco Crisp.
Andre Ethier and James Loney are a combined 8-for-47 against Jonathan Sanchez. Matt Kemp has been solid with a .346 average in 26 at-bats. Sanchez held the Dodgers to a .191 average against him while giving up just five earned runs in 19.1 innings pitched. He can be frustrating to watch, but he generates strikeouts and has pitched well against the Dodgers.
Ricky Romero has struggled against Denard Span, as Span has hit .455 against him in 11 at-bats. Delmon Young has the only other stats worth referencing in a positive light, having gone 4-for-9 against him. Michael Cuddyer has gone only 1-for-9 against Romero.
Sometimes numbers make you laugh. Johnny Damon is just 8-for-37 against Jeremy Guthrie while Evan Longoria is only 4-for-20. Look to avoid Ben Zobrist as well. Best bets here come in the .300 average of B.J. Upton and the 5-for-14 of Manny Ramirez. Guthrie had a 2-2 record but 2.73 ERA and .245 BAA when facing Tampa.
Limited at-bats for the Orioles against David Price and the only one with success has been Nick Markakis. Markakis is 5-for-15 against Price lifetime and is the only Oriole regular with more than two hits in at least nine at-bats. Price gave up just one run in 15 innings while going 2-0 against the Orioles last year.
Spot Starts: Guthrie and Fausto Carmona (if needed, it's still the first week!)
Sure, it does seem like John Lackey could have a better season. The idea that it will start against the Rangers, though, may be far-fetched. Your regular starters have raked against Lackey. Michael Young has hit .360 in more than 80 at-bats while Kinsler and Hamilton are both better than .425. Nelson Cruz and David Murphy are both well above .300. Adrian Beltre is a red flag at just 9-for-50 while Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon are both only 2-for-13.
The question is more about which Cubs should you NOT start against Paul Maholm. The answer there is only Marlon Byrd. Aramis Ramirez is 10-for-30 while Alfonso Soriano is hitting .286 with four home runs. Geovany Soto checks in at .400 as well. Maholm may have gone 3-1 against the Cubs last year, but it was an ugly 3-1.
There's a lot to like about the Orioles against James Shields. Get them all in your lineup. Vlad Guerrero, Luke Scott and Adam Jones all have solid numbers against him. Jones checks in at 11-for-25 against Shields. Nick Markakis, Felix Pie and Matt Wieters all have .300 marks or better and at least 10 at-bats. Shields was 1-2 with an ERA over 7.00 against Baltimore last year.
As bad as Ethier and Loney have been against Sanchez, they are that good against Matt Cain. Ethier is 20-for-41 while Loney checks in at .378. Cain was 2-1 against the Dodgers last season with a 2.70 ERA and .212 BAA. Not bad numbers at all to see out on the mound.
The Mets have roughed up Ricky Nolasco with all their regulars hitting better than .300 against him. Start them all with confidence here. The only hiccup is a 0-for-8 seen from Ike Davis. Small sample, so he should not be a major issue. Nolasco was 2-0 against the Mets last season with respectable overall numbers. Both sides can have good days, and this is a case where keeping Nolasco on the mound is still a good decision.
MIGHT take the chance and guess that Jonny Gomes will be in the lineup against Randy Wolf. Gomes is 10-for-16 against him lifetime. Also good numbers from Jay Bruce, who has two home runs and a .438 average in 16 at-bats. Only the 4-for-18 of Scott Rolen stands out as a tough number that you would want out of your lineup, but know that Brandon Phillips is just 4-for-16.
Travis Hafner has ugly numbers against John Danks, going just 4-for-21 against him. Shin-Soo Choo and Adam Everett (??) have the best numbers here. Yes, Everett is 4-for-13 with a home run against Danks. Danks was 1-1 against the Indians last year, but gave up six runs on 15 hits in just 10.1 innings.
Ryan Zimmerman is only a .206 hitter in 34 at-bats against Tim Hudson and Ian Desmond is only 4-for-17. They represent the only cautions in this one. Ivan Rodriguez is 16-for-36 while Jayson Werth has hit .350 and Michael Morse is 4-for-10. Hudson was 2-1 in five starts against Washington last year with a 2.88 ERA.
Matt Kemp is 18-for-43 against Barry Zito, good for a .419 average. Reserve most your other Dodgers except Furcal and Barajas. They are the only others that are not only hitting above .300 but above .200 with the exception of Jamey Carroll.
Jose Reyes is only 3-for-19 against Javier Vazquez while Carlos Beltran is just 2-for-9. David Wright is 4-for-12 against the righty.
Spot Starts: Zimmermann, Cecil, Clayton Richard