Tim Lincecum takes to the mound
Only three days into the season, we already have our first rescheduled games on the slate, as the matchups involving both colors of Sox (Rays at Red Sox and Royals at White Sox) were postponed well before game time on Monday. Get used to it, kids. April baseball is played at the weather's whim.
The Brewers and Giants open their seasons Tuesday with a game featuring NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. We also will get to bear witness to the first rookie starter debut of the season when Oakland's Trevor Cahill takes to a major league mound for the first time.
Starting pitcher rankings for Tuesday, April 7 (*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 percentage surrendered to opponents. OPS = pitcher's opponent's composite team on-base plus slugging percentage. CT% = pitcher's opponent's success rate putting the ball in play versus striking out.
Selected notes: Erik Bedard will try to get the Twins out swinging, but Ron Gardenhire's disciplined club was one of the best at putting the ball in play last season. One of the only clubs better at it than the Twins were the Mariners. Don't expect a lot of punchouts from Nick Blackburn, who pitches to contact. Ubaldo Jimenez may give up some runs to the Diamondbacks, but he's a good bet for some strikeouts against the K-prone Snakes. Chris Young has stellar stats, but until he can pitch into the seventh inning consistently, his strikeout and win totals will suffer, and his WHIP and ERA will be lighter than those of more efficient pitchers. Dustin Moseley and Ian Snell are both more talented than last year's numbers show, but you'd have to be pretty confident in the rest of your staff to risk starting them at this point in the season. Remember, it usually takes two good starts to negate the effects of one bad one. And a terrible one can take a lot more to get over.
• David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: is 7-for-14 (.500 batting average) with four doubles and two home runs lifetime against James Shields.
• Coco Crisp, OF, Royals: is 13-for-34 (.382) with two home runs in his career against Mark Buehrle.
• Mark Teahen, OF, Royals: is 18-for-43 (.419) with six doubles versus Buehrle.
• Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays: has slugged .611 in 18 career at-bats versus Edwin Jackson.
• Jack Cust, OF, Athletics: is 4-for-7 (.571) with a home run in his career against Moseley.
• Torii Hunter, OF, Angels: is 4-for-8 (.500) with a double versus Dana Eveland.
• Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: is 8-for-16 (.500) with two home runs and nine RBIs in his career against Bedard, a remarkable track record for lefty-versus-lefty.
• Chad Tracy, 1B, Diamondbacks: is 3-for-6 with a home run lifetime versus Jimenez.
• Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies: One of the few Rockies to hit Dan Haren well, he's 4-for-9 with two doubles lifetime against the right-hander.
• Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: is 6-for-14 (.429) with a home run versus Ryan Dempster.
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: has 11 hits in 22 career at-bats versus Wandy Rodriguez, three of them doubles and two of them home runs, plus five walks.
• Ryan Theriot, SS, Cubs: is 8-for-16 with three doubles and a homer against Rodriguez.
• Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers: is 9-for-20 (.450) with two doubles, four home runs and five walks in his career against Chris Young.
• Bengie Molina, C, Giants: is 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles and a home run lifetime versus Jeff Suppan.
• Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: One of the few hitters with Lincecum's number, Braun is 5-for-12 with two homers lifetime versus the defending Cy Young winner.
• Skip Schumaker, OF, Cardinals: is 10-for-22 (.455) with two doubles lifetime versus Snell.
• Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: is 9-for-23 (.391) with two doubles and a homer against Snell.
• Pat Burrell, OF, Rays: is 6-for-35 (.171 BA) with no extra-base hits and 10 strikeouts lifetime against Josh Beckett.
• Dioner Navarro, C, Rays: is 3-for-19 (.158) with five K's against Beckett.
• Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox: hitless in 17 career at-bats versus James Shields.
• David DeJesus, OF, Royals: is 9-for-53 (.170) with a .245 slugging percentage in his career against Buehrle.
• A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: has three hits in 22 career at-bats versus Gil Meche.
• Delmon Young, OF, Twins: is 2-for-15 (.133) with six K's versus Bedard.
• Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: has three hits -- strangely, all doubles -- in 15 career at-bats against Dan Haren, and has struck out seven times.
• Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Diamondbacks: has one hit in 11 career at-bats against Dempster.
• Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals: Is 1-for-11 with no extra-base hits and six strikeouts in his career against Snell.
• Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates: has two hits in 17 career at-bats against Kyle Lohse.
• Willie Bloomquist, OF, Royals: Scary to think he'd be recommended on any day, but he's 9-for-19 (.474 BA) with three doubles lifetime versus Buehrle.
• Gerald Laird, C, Tigers: has hit two home runs in three career at-bats against David Purcey and is a .290 career hitter versus left-handers.
• Nick Punto, SS/2B, Twins: is 5-for-12 (.417) with two doubles in his career against Bedard and has batted better than .300 versus lefties in two of the past three seasons.
• Martin Prado, 3B, Braves: No guarantee he'd get a start over Kelly Johnson this early in the season, but if he does, he's 6-for-14 (.429) with a homer against Jamie Moyer.
• Chris Duncan, OF/1B, Cardinals: is 7-for-23 (.304) with three doubles, a home run and a walk lifetime versus Snell.
• Craig Monroe, OF, Pirates: Will the Pirates see his .318 lifetime batting average (7-for-22) and two home runs against Lohse and grant him a rare start against a righty?
• Rain is in the forecast for the Brewers and Giants in San Francisco.
• Forecasted rain for the Blue Jays and Tigers won't factor, as the Rogers Centre roof will be closed.
• A small chance of rain exists for the Braves and Phillies in Philadelphia and the A's and Angels in Anaheim.
Pierre Becquey is a senior fantasy editor for ESPN.com. He previously published under the pseudonym "Pete Becker" and was recognized by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for the best fantasy baseball article (Web) in 2007.
Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time LABR champion. You can e-mail him here.
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