10 Last-Minute Fantasy Baseball Lineup Tips for Week 1
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks were already Men at Work, kicking off the 2014 Major League Baseball season in Australia on March 22. The Dodgers will continue to be the spotlight franchise as they square off with the San Diego Padres on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
On Monday, March 31, we’re off to the races with a flurry of day games. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you set your lineups.
Be Aware of Early Starts
If you are in a fantasy baseball league that allows you to make daily changes to your roster, make sure you make your adjustments early. The only day next week that doesn’t have multiple (or any at all) day games is April 1, and that’s no joke.
I recommend setting your lineup at least the night before to make sure you are adding your bench players to the active lineup. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing quality counting stats sitting on your bench.
Do a quick check of your lineup in the morning and enjoy. Having games spread out throughout the day is awesome for baseball fans that have been clamoring for the real deal for months.
Pay Attention to the Weather
“April showers bring May flowers.” That isn't just a cliche. Last April there were 18 games postponed. If you stay on top of things, you can make roster changes as needed to maximize the number of games your fantasy team plays in a given week.
I'm not suggesting you start following Al Roker, but do your due diligence so you don't miss out on opportunities.
Keep an Eye on Injury Updates
Early in the season there tends to be a rash of minor day-to-day injuries as players tweak their hamstring, groin, etc. It's a long season, so there is no point in teams risking a long-term injury, which means starts can get pushed back or position players are given the occasional day off.
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The Philadelphia Phillies Get an Extra Bat
The Philadelphia Phillies open their season playing the Texas Rangers. Tony Gwynn Jr. and/or John Mayberry could get the nod at designated hitter. They could be worth a look in NL-only leagues.
The Milwaukee Brewers Will Get a DH Too
The Milwaukee Brewers face the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in their second series of the season (beginning April 4). Logan Schafer could find himself playing some outfield while Ryan Braun occupies the DH slot.
Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds could also share first base and DH duties.
There is something about a team's home opener. There is a buzz of excitement and optimism that is usually reserved for the pennant chase. There are seven teams that only play on the road during the first week.
The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals won't get any home cooking this week. If you're on the fence for any of these clubs' players, check their home-road splits.
Cue Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."
Beware of Slow Starters
Speaking of splits, another thing to look at is how a player performs in March/April. Yahoo is a great place to check. You can see that New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has a .239 career average in 802 April at-bats.
Play your studs, but use past performances as a deciding factor between two similar players.
Study Your Opponent
Is your opponent built for power? Maybe they stocked up on speed guys. Maybe they opted to go with a strong stable of closers or punt the saves category altogether.
If you can't keep up with a particular category, focus your lineup to play to your strengths and your opponent's weaknesses. You don't want to go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight.
Francisco Liriano to Start Opener
Francisco Liriano will start in the Pittsburgh Pirates' opener against the Chicago Cubs Monday. He was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA against the Cubs in 34 innings over five starts last year. The Cubbies hit .158 against him.
Liriano should also make a second start this week against the St. Louis Cardinals. Liriano won all three of his starts against them last year with a 0.75 ERA. The Cards hit .127 against him. Both are home starts. Liriano was 8-1 at PNC Park with a 1.47 ERA (8-7, 4.33 on the road) in 2013.
More Is Better
AT&T is on to something. More really is better. Barring a postponement, there are seven teams that play seven games this week.
If you are in a fantasy baseball league that doesn't allow you to make daily lineup changes, consider using players from the Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Giants, Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
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