Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is here! Well, at least it is for 17 out of 30 teams. The remaining 13 teams will finally be getting into the action today. Before we get started with the previews for the day, a few pertinent things to note:
– Scott Baker has apparently suffered another setback in his rehabbing with the Twins’ Single-A affiliate this afternoon. He was scheduled to throw 75 pitches, but lasted a mere 11 before being pulled. Baker’s current Yahoo! ownership sits at 42% (he is even owned in the FG vs THT Expert League), but I would expect that to drop. Baker has only once ever pitched 200 innings in a single season, and it appears as though 2012 will be another sub-200 frame season from him.
– Of all the aces throwing today, it is possible that Justin Masterson had the best day of them all. A solo shot by Jose Bautista was one of only two hits he gave up to go along with his sole walk and 10 strikeouts. Unfortunately for Masterson and for his fantasy owners, he was not rewarded with the win, despite leaving the game after eight innings and a three-run lead. Closer Chris Perez came on the top of the ninth and rapidly surrendered a pair of walks, a trio of hits and ultimately that one blown save, all in a mere two-thirds of an inning.
Throughout the Blue Jays/Indians game there was a running phenomenon where pitchers on both sides seemed to be throwing noticeably slower than their norms. Masterson was sitting around 90 mph, and his opposition, Ricky Romero, was even lower at 89. Perez was the most notable, topping at 91 in his short time on the mound. Immediately after the game there were several questions on my twitter timeline asking about Perez’s potentially lingering injury.
FanGraphs’ very own Jeff Zimmerman tackled the velocity subject and determined that it was one of two scenarios: every single pitcher (14 total) was experiencing a decrease in velocity, or the Cleveland radar gun was between 2 and 2.5 mph out of calibration on the slow side. In other words, Perez seems to be fine from a velocity standpoint, he was just hit hard today because well, he’s Chris Perez. I would look to snap up Vinnie Pestano if he’s available. Despite Perez’s seemingly fine velocity, I can’t imagine he hangs on to the closer job for much longer.
A Pitcher For Today: Chad Billinglsey (LAD) at SD
Bils has struck out at least 150 batters in three straight years and today he matches up against the Padres in San Diego. He’s currently owned in just half of all Yahoo! leagues. Bilingsley is a better than decent pitcher and he’s playing at Petco. What’s not to like?
A Pitcher For Tomorrow: Francisco Liriano (MIN) at BAL
The major issue that has plagued Liriano the past few years (other than health) has been attempting to limit the free passes. Luckily he is facing the Orioles, the team that drew the 24th fewest walks in baseball last year. I expect Liriano to have a solid day. He’s only owned in 72% and as a stream option early in the year, he is worth the risk.
FanGraphs: The Game
A thin position with a hitter who can maybe pop 20 homers this year? And is right-handed and enjoying a game in Texas? If you’re picking at shortstop, you need to be paying Alexei Ramirez today. He’s good for about 15-15 each year. He plays in a hitters park, and is now on the road in an even better hitters’ park.
As counter-intuitive as it is to be buying hitters from Oakland, tomorrow is day to bid on their outfielders. Jason Vargas isn’t exactly Cy Young material and between guys like Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, there is speed, power and speed, and power right there. You can probably pluck these guys pretty cheaply too.