- Will Harris, Betting
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Comebacks, debuts and a temporary farewell highlight a day of intriguing pitching matchups. Highly touted prospect Johnny Cueto makes his major league debut against Doug Davis, who may make only one start this year before undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer. Elsewhere, the Cubs' Ryan Dempster makes his return to the rotation, while Atlanta's Mike Hampton takes the mound for the first time since 2005.
Matchups for Thursday, April 3
All times are ET. Statistics are from the 2007 regular season.
Doug Davis, SP, Diamondbacks (thyroid)
David DeJesus, OF, Royals (ankle)
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B, Royals (hand)
Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves (knee)
Victor Martinez, C, Indians (hamstring)
Matt Stairs, OF, Blue Jays (hip)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Orlando Cabrera has only one hit in 27 career at-bats against Paul Byrd. Jermaine Dye has likewise struggled against the Indians' veteran, collecting only four hits in 24 at-bats. Juan Uribe, on the other hand, is 5-for-13 with three home runs against Byrd. He's battling Alexei Ramirez for playing time, but should get the start here.
Dmitri Young will start over Nick Johnson against most left-handers, and he'll definitely be manning first base Thursday, as the Phillies' Jamie Moyer has owned Johnson, allowing his fellow left-hander only one hit in 13 at-bats.
Pitchers: Jeremy Bonderman is coming off injury and had a rocky spring (.301 BAA), but don't hesitate to get him right into your lineup against the Royals, whom Bonderman has dominated during his career (71 K's, 13 BBs in 12 starts over the past three years). Ervin Santana was absolutely tortured away from home last year (8.38 ERA, .325 BAA). A wait-and-see approach may be best in his road debut, especially as the Angels' banged-up bullpen still isn't near full strength.
Hitters: Mark Teahen has had his way with Jeremy Bonderman (.333/.391/.810 in 21 at-bats). Jeff Keppinger is the Reds' starting shortstop while Alex Gonzalez is out. Keppinger doesn't have much power or speed, but he possesses elite contact abilities and produced a monster spring, so he'll probably be a solid fill-in.
Pitchers: Johnny Cueto, one of the top prospects in the deep Reds system, makes his major league debut. He's a Rookie of the Year candidate. Andy Sonnanstine had an excellent spring. He walked fewer than two batters per nine innings last season and should be a solid pickup against Steve Trachsel and a weak Baltimore team. Kevin Slowey led all American League hurlers in spring training strikeouts.
There will be plenty of rain around the country Thursday, and strong thunderstorms are in store for St. Louis. Cleveland is just on the fringe of the area for which rain is forecast, but Chicago and Cincinnati are very likely to get some showers.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com