Welcome to the start of the MLB season! Tonight when the Cubs host the Cardinals at 8PM ET, the season officially gets underway. Below is our weekly Coaches Meeting, researched by our Shane Cole, for Week #1. Play Ball!
SS J.J. Hardy (knee) and C Matt Wieters (elbow) will begin the season on disabled list but neither player is expected to miss an extended period of time. Stash both players for the first week but don't be surprised if they're ready for the following week. Everth Cabrera will get the nod at SS, with Caleb Joseph starting behind the dish in the short-term and both are worth a look as stop gaps in AL-only leagues this week. The Red Sox will be without Christian Vasquez after he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. Ryan Hanigan will start for the Red Sox but isn't much of an offensive contributor. In the longer term, Blake Swihart could get the nod once summer rolls around and will be and could be an interesting mid-season add once the time rolls around.
OF Shane Victorino will get a chance to hold onto an outfield job after the demotion of Rusney Castillo to the minors. Castillo is worth stashing away in larger roster leagues while Victorino will have to improve from a very poor spring before he's worth picking up. 1B Victor Martinez struggled in spring training following his return from knee surgery but is expected to start as the full time DH for the Tigers this week. Martinez did homer on Saturday, a good enough sign to keep him in lineups this week. OF Jake Marisnick will be the biggest beneficiary of 1B Jonathan Singleton's demotion as Chris Carter will see the bulk of the action at first, which will allow C Evan Gattis to see the bulk of the at bats at DH, freeing up a spot in the outfield. Marisnick is a solid source of steals as outfield depth in NL-only leagues.
Omar Infante has locked up the 2B starting job though Christian Colon could eventually be the answer there for the Royals. Infante is worth a look on AL-only benches. OF Josh Hamilton was cleared of a drug-related suspension late last week but he's still likely looking at a DL stint that could keep him out until early May. Hamilton is worth stashing in most formats if you have a DL slot available. C.J. Cron will see every day at-bats with Hamilton out and is worth rostering in most formats after his hot spring. C Josmil Pinto was unable to stick with the Twins major league squad despite having, by far, the most offensive potential of any of their catching options. Kurt Suzuki will again start most games behind the dish for the Twins this year, holding value as an AL-only option. Jordan Schafer will get the nod in the Twins' outfield over Aaron Hicks to start the year but has limited fantasy appeal. OF Jacoby Ellsbury was cleared to return to game-action mid-week last week after dealing with an oblique injury. Ellsbury will be ready for opening day and remains a solid fantasy outfielder this season. SS Didi Gregorius suffered a sprained wrist late in spring training but is expected to be ready when the Yankees open their season on Monday. Gregorius is worth a flier in AL-only leagues as middle infield depth. OF Josh Reddick could miss at least a week as he recovers from an oblique strain but should be back at some point during the following week. He'll be worth stashing away in AL-only leagues. The A's will also be without OF Coco Crisp to start the season as he'll miss 6-8 weeks following surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. Crisp is also worth stashing away in deep leagues though his health is always a concern. Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry, and Billy Burns will see time in the outfield for the A's with Reddick and Crisp out but none of the three are particularly intriguing. Burns had a strong spring and is worth considering as depth in AL-only leagues if he can claim a regular starting job (a very difficulty task to accomplish on the A's) because of his speed on the basepaths. Mariners' SS Chris Taylor will be out until late April recovering from a wrist fracture. He's only worth stashing in AL-only formats. Brad Miller will get the starting nod at short until Taylor return, and if he plays up to his potential could stick even after Taylor returns. Miller is worth adding in AL-only leagues. Ryan Rua has earned an every-day spot in the Rangers' outfield over Michael Choice who will start the season in Triple-A. Rua is worth a flier in AL-only leagues as long as he's starting. Devin Travis has been named the starting 2B for a potent Blue Jays' lineup. Travis offers some power and speed which should earn him a look in AL-only formats but he's unlikely to be much of a contributor in mixed leagues right now.
On The Mound
The Orioles have declined to finalize their rotation leaving the rotation spot of Kevin Gausman in question. The team could pitch Gausman out of the bullpen in an effort to limit his innings, electing to start Ubaldo Jimenez in the early going. For now keep Gausman stashed away as he'll be a solid mixed league option once he claims that spot. Red Sox starter Joe Kelly will start the season on the DL with biceps tendinitis, though he could be available the first time the Red Sox need a fifth starter around April 11. Kelly is worth keeping an eye on in AL-only leagues when he's healthy, but he's not worth stashing away right now. Chris Sale won't make an Opening Day start after suffering a foot injury in spring training but is currently slated to start next Sunday. He'll be worth starting in all formats as a true fantasy ace if he's healthy. Zach McAllister will start the season in the Indians rotation after an elbow injury to Gavin Floyd likely cost him his season and Danny Salazar was demoted to Triple-A to start the year. Salazar is worth stashing away if you have the roster space given his elite strikeout potential. McAllister isn't a recommended starter at this time despite a strong spring. Justin Verlander will begin the season on the DL with a triceps strain but could return for a start as early as Monday. Verlander will be a risky play early this season with the injury issues. Asher Wojciechowski has locked up a spot in the Astros' rotation with Brett Oberholtzer landing on the DL with a finger blister. Neither player is likely to have much of a fantasy impact. Garrett Richards will start the season on the DL as he continues to recover from knee surgery. The team is hopeful Richards can return before the end of the month, and he should be stashed away in all formats. The Angels will likely call up Andrew Heaney when they need a fifth starter. He'll be worth a look as a streaming option once he gets the call. The Twins' will be without pitching acquisition Ervin Santana for 80-games as he serves a steroid suspension. Mike Pelfrey will be plugged into the rotation with Santana gone but has little fantasy value. Tommy Milone will fill out the Twins rotation after Trevor May was sent down to Triple-A. Milone has earned fantasy attention in the past but for now he's not a recommended option. has more potential in the long-term and will be worth a look in AL-only leagues if he gets the call. Masahiro Tanaka continues to pitch with a partially torn ACL which didn't limit his success in spring training. Tanaka may not be the elite fantasy starter he was at times last season but he's still a valuable fantasy starter in all formats. Adam Warren has earned the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation and is worth a flier in AL-only leagues. Kendall Graveman and Drew Pomeranz have locked up the final spots in the A's rotation. Both Pomeranz and Graveman are worth fliers in deeper formats. Taijuan Walker looked every bit like a top starting pitching prospect this spring and walked away with a spot in the Mariners' starting rotation, posting a microscopic 0.36 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 25 innings. Walker should be owned in all formats. Walker beat out Roenis Elias who has been demoted to Triple-A but could have fantasy value if he gets the call this season. The Rays will be without Alex Cobb (forearm) and Drew Smyly (shoulder) to start the season, but both could return before the end of the month. Keep both players stashed away. Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese will fill the vacancies in the Rays' rotation with Ramirez having value in AL-only leagues. Ross Detwiler is a new addition to a Rangers' rotation that will be without Yu Darvish who will miss the season following Tommy John surgery. Detwiler is worth monitoring in NL-only formats but not worth a roster spot right now. Daniel Norris pitched well enough in spring training to earn a spot in the Blue Jays' starting rotation but we won't know until Tuesday whether he'll begin the season in the majors or wait until the fifth rotation spot is needed a week later. Either way, Norris is worth a flier though owners will have to keep an eye on his starting status before plugging him into lineups. The Blue Jays are hoping Norris excels after losing another promising youngster in Marcus Stroman for the season with a torn ACL.
In The Bullpen
Edward Mujica will start the season as the Red Sox closer as Koji Uehara could miss the first week of action recovering from a hamstring strain. Keep Uehara stashed away this week and plug Mujica in as a stop gap to hopefully tally a couple saves before Uehara is ready. Joe Nathan struggled through most of the spring but looked solid last week. Nathan will begin the season as the Tigers closer but there's little chance they hang with him if he struggles as he did last season. Joakim Soria should be rostered as a depth reliever as he'd become a top fantasy relief option if he can take over for Nathan this season. As expected, Luke Gregerson has earned the closing job for the Astros, pushing Chad Qualls into a setup role. Gregerson should be rostered as a low-end RP2 or high-end RP3 as a strong reliever who may not see many save opportunities. Dellin Betances was unable to claim the Yankees' closing job outright and the Yankees will use Betances and Andrew Miller in save situations to start the season. Both players are worth owning in all formats with whoever emerges as closer likely being a top-10 reliever. With Sean Doolittle out until early May with a slight rotator cuff tear, Tyler Clippard will close out games for the A's. Keep Doolittle stashed and consider Clippard a very solid relief option until Doolittle is able to return.
Here are the most favorable American League offensive schedules this week...
Oakland Athletics OAK Gallardo,Y. 6 Lewis,C. 6 Detwiler,R. (L) 7
Martinez,N. 9 Walker,T. 5 Happ,J. (L) 8 Hernandez,F. 1 42
Texas Rangers TEX Gray,S. 4 Hahn,J. 7 Kazmir,S. (L) 4 Graveman,K. 6 McHugh,C. 5 Hernandez,R. 7 Keuchel,D. (L) 6 39
Seattle Mariners SEA Weaver,Jr. 5 Wilson,C. (L) 7 Shoemaker,M. 5 OFF 0 Pomeranz,D. (L) 7 Gray,S. 4 Hahn,J. 7 35
And the unfavorable A.L. Weekly schedules..
Houston Astros HOU Kluber,C. 3 OFF 0 Carrasco,C. 2 Bauer,T. 5
Holland,D. (L) 5 Gallardo,Y. 6 Lewis,C. 6 27
Los Angeles Angels LAA Hernandez,F. 1 Paxton,J. (L) 6 Iwakuma,H. 1 OFF 0 Vargas,J. (L) 6 Guthrie,J. 7 Ventura,Y. 5 26
Minnesota Twins MIN Price,D. (L) 1 OFF 0 Sanchez,A. 3 Greene,S. 6 Noesi,H. 6 Samardzija,J. 2 Sale,C. (L) 1 19
2X Starters this Week (based on the strength of opponent*)...
PHI@ 10 NYY@ 8
Hutchison,D. TOR NYY@ 8 BAL@ 9 17
Samardzija,J. CHW KC@ 9 MIN 6 15
Weaver,J. LAA SEA@ 8 KC 7 15
Wilson,C. LAA SEA@ 8 KC 7 15
Hughes,P. MIN DET@ 7 CHW@ 8 15
Archer,C. TB BAL 8 MIA@ 7 15
Kluber,C. CLE HOU@ 9 DET 5 14
Ventura,Y. KC CHW 6 LAA@ 8 14
Gallardo,Y. TEX OAK@ 7 HOU 7 14
Lewis,C. TEX OAK@ 7 HOU 7 14
Hernandez,F. SEA LAA 6 OAK@ 7 13
TB@ 8 TOR 4
Price,D. DET MIN 6 CLE@ 6 12
Gray,S. OAK TEX 4 SEA 7 11
Hahn,J. OAK TEX 4 SEA 7 11
Keuchel,D. HOU CLE 5 TEX@ 5 10
Tanaka,M. NYY TOR 4 BOS 1 5
*These ratings are based purely on the strength of the opposition (OBP), for comparative purposes.
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