- Pierre Becquey, Fantasy Sports
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It's Opening Day for 22 teams (a rapidly dwindling number due to the weather), so lots of top-of-the-rotation talent to choose from, and some of what passes for top-of-the-rotation talent on some of the less-pitching-endowed teams in the majors. Be wary of last season's numbers as teams have had a lot of turnover in personnel, injuries have had time to heal or new ones have appeared.
Since this is the first run of the 2009 edition of Daily Notes, you'll find a brief description of what you can expect to find in each section along with some advice for Monday's games.
Remember, this is Day 2 of a six-month marathon, so while getting off to a good start is always nice, it's how you finish that's important. But at the risk of mixing our metaphors, that doesn't mean it's not fun to swing for the fences on an 0-1 count.
Postponements: The White Sox-Royals game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 7, at 2:05 p.m. while the Red Sox and Rays will play at 4:05 pm that day.
Starting pitcher rankings for Monday, April 6 (*all stats listed are from 2008.)
Key: Rk.= The author's ranking of that pitcher for today only. T = pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Record = pitcher's win-loss record. ERA = pitcher's earned-run average. WHIP = pitcher's average number of walks and hits surrendered per nine innings. K/9 = pitcher's average number of strikeouts per nine innings. OPSA = pitcher's on-base plus slugging surrendered to opponents. OPS = pitcher's opponent's composite team on-base plus slugging. CT% = pitcher's opponent's success rate putting the ball in play versus striking out.
Selected Notes: In this section, you'll find a mix of the author's personal bias towards certain starting pitchers -- note my No. 1 ranking of Francisco Liriano after my well-publicized endorsement of his impending greatness this preseason -- and useful stats to support the ranking. For example, Liriano's ranking has as much to do with his own skill as it does with the Mariner's 2008 offensive woes (.707 team OPS) and the fact that sparkplug Ichiro Suzuki won't be leading off for this squad. Jeremy Guthrie will need his defense to do some good work for him if he hopes to beat a retooled Yankees offense, even minus Alex Rodriguez. If you're going to be rationing your games started, this is the kind of matchup you have to consider benching him in. An interesting matchup in Anaheim as Joe Saunders and his underwhelming 4.68 K/9 (in 2008) takes on the free-swinging A's, reinforced with Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi and Orlando Cabrera. Advantage: A's. The even-freer-swinging D-backs host the even-more-underwhelming Aaron Cook. Don't let Cook's 16 wins dazzle you; facing Brandon Webb on the road, you'll be happy if he merely limits the damage in a probable loss. Tough sledding for Aaron Harang as he tries to put a miserable 2008 behind him, but his date with the potent Mets offense and retooled bullpen in support of Johan Santana makes this an unsavory matchup.
In this section, you'll find your daily dose of advice concerning hitters that are good plays (Hitters' Count) versus those which are looking at a tough matchup (Pitchers' Count). We'll focus on shedding light on players which aren't automatic starts but that you might consider if you have a positional need in Hitters Count, and players which you likely drafted as a starter but that you might want to rest if you have a better option in Pitchers' Count. Remember, this is all about playing the odds. A player can be 0-for-forever against a pitcher and then enjoy a 3-homer outburst, or they could be that pitcher's personal nightmare only to end up with a golden sombrero. It's what makes daily transactions league so much fun and frustrating.
• Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds: Is 4-for-5 with two home runs in his career versus Johan Santana.
• Chad Tracy, 1B/3B, Diamondbacks: Is 17-for-33 (.515) lifetime against Aaron Cook with eight doubles but no home runs, striking out only once.
• Chris Snyder, C, Diamondbacks: Is 12-for-21 (.571) against Cook.
• Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates: Seven hits in 16 at-bats against Adam Wainwright.
• Brian Giles, OF, Padres: Was 4-for-12 with a double and two home runs last season against Hiroki .
• Mark Ellis, 2B, A's: 6-for-17 with two home runs lifetime versus Joe Saunders.
• Garrett Atkins, 1B/3B, Rockies: Is 6-for-37 (.162) with 11 strikeouts and one walk against Brandon Webb.
• Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: Is 3-for-26 (.115) with eight whiffs and no walks against Webb.
• Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals: Has a solitary double in 11 at-bats against Paul Maholm.
• Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: A notorious slow starter to begin with, LaRoche is 3-for-15 (.200) lifetime against Adam Wainwright.
• Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: Is 9-for-63 (.143) lifetime against Carlos Zambrano, with four home runs, 14 walks and 18 strikeouts.
If You're Hardcore
Play in an AL- or NL-only, or a crazy-deep mixed league? This is where you'll find daily tidbits on players that are beyond even waiver-wire consideration in most leagues. Where else are you going to find start-sit advice on Marco Scutaro?
• Brian Barden, 3B, Cardinals: Barden, not David Freese, will get the start at third base for the Cardinals. Expect Freese to get the call on Tuesday.
• Endy Chavez, OF, Mariners: Chavez will be the Opening Day leadoff man for the Mariners and may keep the gig until Ichiro Suzuki is well enough to come off the DL.
• Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: It's a good time to see what Rivera can do with lefty Dallas Braden on the mound for the A's. In his past 253 at-bats against southpaws -- spanning three seasons -- he's hit .300 with 14 home runs.
• Cody Ransom, 1B, Yankees: He'll bat eighth on Opening Day, subbing for Alex Rodriguez.
• Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros: With the righty Zambrano on the mound, expect Blum, not Jeff Keppinger, to get the start. Be still, your beating heart.
• Mike Redmond, C, Twins: He's the starter while Joe Mauer is out. You could do worse than a career .292 hitter (2,066 at-bats) but don't expect much in the way of power numbers.
This is where you'll find a quick-reference guide to recent injuries. If your player went on the DL in the past few days or is currently hobbled, we'll let you know. Players on the "Out" list are, well, out, and players that are on the day-to-day list are at risk of missing their next game. Because the intention behind this list is quick reference, we won't recap a team's entire disabled list in this section; once news of the injury has sufficiently permeated the public consciousness, we won't bother repeating it. So, where's A-Rod, you ask? If you didn't know he was missing the start of the season due to getting his hip patched up, you're going to need to come see us more than once a month for your news and advice.
Injury List: Day-to-day
• Adam Everett, SS, Tigers (ankle): Looks to be ready for Opening Day.
• Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder): Looks to be ready for Opening Day.
• Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies (back): Expected to play.
We can't pretend to predict the weather, but when the forecast looks ominous, we'll let you know, and you can decide how lucky you're feeling starting your players in less-than-ideal conditions. And remember, April showers bring May doubleheaders.
• Weather in the Midwest has cancelled the game in Chicago (Royals at White Sox) and is threatening games in Cincinnati (Mets at Reds) and St. Louis (Pirates at Cardinals).
• Expected rain at Fenway has already postponed that game as well (Rays at Red Sox).
• A chance of precipitation in Baltimore could dampen the Orioles home opener versus the Yankees.
• Rain forecast for Toronto won't factor as the Rogers Centre will have the lid closed.
Pierre Becquey is a senior fantasy editor for ESPN.com. He previously published under the pseudonym "Pete Becker" and was recognized by the FSWA for the best fantasy baseball article (Web) in 2007.