Friday is a day for aces around major league baseball, with Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez among those taking the hill. From a fantasy baseball perspective, it's always a nice feeling knowing you'll get some good innings to start the weekend. I mean, I have Ian Kennedy active in one deep league, he'll pitch Sunday at Petco Park, and I don't have a clue what to expect. He could pitch well, or get torched. But the aces, aaahh, you know good innings are coming!
I'll be watching not only the aces, but some of those Kennedy types this weekend, including Ryan Rowland-Smith and even Vicente Padilla, who likely will be dropped next week if he struggles again. Anyway, there's always plenty to watch. Here are 10 players/situations on my mind this fine Friday:
Beantown M*A*S*H unit: It's quite possible that by the time you read this, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will be on the disabled list. That's not what the Boston Red Sox had in mind. Ellsbury's sore ribs have kept him quiet all week, and Cameron could have kidney stones. Those in deep leagues should get Jeremy Hermida active, but it's also possible Bill Hall and minor leaguer Josh Reddick get more playing time, too.
Beantown whiffing unit: Meanwhile, David Ortiz got his day off Thursday against Minnesota Twins lefty Francisco Liriano, but the Tampa Bay Rays are throwing all right-handed pitching this weekend at Fenway Park. Ortiz should play. I wouldn't recommend leaving him active in daily leagues until he hits, but you might not have a choice. Ortiz has been bad, but check out J.D. Drew! Both have 13 strikeouts, and Ortiz actually has a higher batting average. Why is nobody complaining about Drew? Watch 'em both this weekend, though I don't expect much improvement.
Who's up first?: Speaking of the DL, it sure looks as though Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will need a few weeks off, and the team doesn't have a natural leadoff hitter other than struggling Dexter Fowler. How about speedster Eric Young Jr.? We all love those stolen base guys. Let's just say Fowler needs to have a good weekend in Atlanta.
Top Oriole: Speaking of leading off, the Baltimore Orioles had been relying on Felix Pie to replace the injured Brian Roberts, but Pie left Thursday's game in Oakland clutching his left shoulder. Nolan Reimold has seen sporadic playing time and done little with it, but he could be in line for regular playing time, and hey, he could lead off, much like Conor Jackson does for Arizona. They both get on base.
The next Johan? OK, so it's obviously premature to compare Jaime Garcia to one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball, but the St. Louis Cardinals rookie will get an up-close look at Johan Santana and that "mighty" New York Mets lineup Saturday. After a great spring and first outing, I'm on board that Garcia is ownable in a 10-team league. Don't let us down, Jaime!
Jose's start: The first hitter Garcia will face is Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who is off to a modest start in five games, hitting .261 with one stolen base in two attempts and one walk compared with six strikeouts. It's early. The Cardinals boast a 3.06 team ERA and a well-armed catcher in Yadier Molina, so Reyes might not have a big weekend.
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Anna in San Diego: They're back! Kris Benson (and wife Anna) found work with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the pitcher makes his season debut Saturday at Petco Park. Well, hurling in that ballpark against that lineup is appealing, but there's no way I'd activate Benson for the outing. Those in NL-only leagues should probably watch closely, but keep expectations low. Frankly, for those wondering if the Diamondbacks had better starting options to choose from, the answer is no.
Angel on the outs: OK, even the most optimistic among us have probably given up on Los Angeles Angels third baseman Brandon Wood. He's hitting .100 in 30 at-bats, with nary an extra-base hit or an RBI. Maicer Izturis is on the verge of playing regularly if Wood has another tough weekend.
Closing time: I'll be interested to see how much longer Neftali Feliz gets the ball in the ninth inning for the Texas Rangers. Frank Francisco could be deemed ready to reclaim the closer role at any time. Let's assume Jim Johnson is the closer for the Orioles should a save chance arise, and also watch the Diamondbacks. Chad Qualls has had a rough week.
Sunday's finale: Check out ESPN on Sunday night as John Maine and Adam Wainwright face off. Wainwright is one of those aces you can trust; Maine has a 13.50 ERA. Doesn't seem like a fair fight, does it? I know some of you are depending on Maine, however, but I have to say, if at all possible, look elsewhere. Current Cardinals are hitting .333 off him.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and for those in weekly leagues in which the deadline is the first Monday game, remember that the Rays and Red Sox are playing the Boston Marathon game Monday at 11:05 a.m. Make sure to alter rosters before then. Enjoy!