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Opening Week Quick Hits

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GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 11:  Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on March 11, 2011 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 11: Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on March 11, 2011 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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The Mariners have announced that Michael Pineda will begin the season as their fifth starter. Last year, as a 21 year old, Pineda split his time between the Double A and Triple A levels and boasted a combined 154 strikeouts and 34 walks in 139 innings. He enters a favorable situation for a young rookie getting his first taste of the big leagues. The Seattle team behind him has been one of the best defensive teams in the league over the last few years. Also, Safeco Field is one of the best pitcher’s parks in the majors . These factors point to Pineda having a good shot to be a valuable last minute pickup in fantasy leagues before the start of the season. Now if only he could find some run support…

I don’t think it’s time to panic about Mat Latos’s impending DL stint yet. Some fantasy owners were a bit scared of Latos to begin with after his innings jump last year, even though it hasn’t necessarily been proven that large innings jumps directly cause injury. I would expect word of Latos’s shoulder soreness to now cause some owners to outright panic. Latos’s shoulder has appeared to react well to treatment and he may only miss a couple early season starts as a result of the soreness. I still look for Latos to have a productive season in a good situation in San Diego.

I always like to kick the tires on players that have experienced poor pre season results right before opening day. It is not rare to find an owner that takes these meaningless spring results too seriously and elects to jump ship on a valuable player. I think this type of situation may come up with Max Scherzer this year. Scherzer’s last start of the spring was a disaster Monday. He gave up 12(!) runs in less than 3 innings and raised his spring ERA to 10.38. Scherzer was a solid fantasy option last year and will be this year as well. Don’t let his spring results change your outlook for him, but look to take advantage if a competing manager looks to make a panic move.

If you drafted Chase Utley it is probably time to assume you will not get any value out of him until the second half of the season. I generally do not advocate panicking over injured players and giving up valuable assets to replace them, but the news surrounding Utley does not seem positive. I would move forward with the assumption that I will get no value out of Utley and take any future production as a pleasant surprise. If this means trading for a second baseman to fill the void, I would certainly consider it as opposed to sitting on my hands hoping for a quick Utley return.

If you are in the position where you are able to play starting pitchers based on match-ups do not be conservative early in the season. Pitchers are set up to succeed in April with cold weather, windy conditions, and batters still trying to find their timing. I often see owners be too selective with starters early in the year and then less selective later in the year as they try to gain in some of the counting categories. It’s best to avoid the situation where you can be less selective in the humid summer months. Be aware of the April advantage.