'Justin Verlander' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The regular season still hasn't officially gotten underway for all the teams, great scheduling MLB, but that issue will finally be rectified Friday. We do have a fair number of baseball games in the books, so what did we learn that we might be able to apply to the world of fantasy baseball?

Jose Bautista already qualifies as a third baseman and outfielder. On opening day he also moved over to play first base after the Jays removed Adam Lind in favor of a pinch runner. It's only one game, but it hints that Bautista just might play five or 10 games at the position this year, the threshold in many leagues for a player to pick up positional eligibility which would only further enhance his obvious value.

Life isn't always fair. Exhibit #1 Justin Verlander pitches eight scoreless innings and picked up a no-decision after Jose Valverde blew the save after not blowing a single one of his 49 opportunities last season. The guy who blew the game, Valverde, ended up with the victory when the Tigers came back to win. Remember what I always say about chasing victories? Or how about how I always say that you should never use a pitchers won-loss record as a judge of his performance? See what I'm saying?

Life isn't always fair. Exhibit #2 Jon Lester didn't quite match Verlander Thursday, but he pitched very well allowing just one run in seven innings. He ended up with a no-decision when the Red Sox bullpen blew it. Mark Melancon ended up with the loss, but it was Alfredo Aceves who actually deserved the loss (for my thoughts on the Red Sox Bullpen see: Relievers, Wild, Wild, West). He came into the game, hit a batter, and then gave up the game winning hit. Still, Aceves escaped with an unblemished record despite not getting an out in the effort.

You're daily talk about closers... the Royals settled on Jonathan Broxton as their lead man in the 9th inning. At one time one of my favorites, Broxton was amazing in 2009 when he won seven games, saved 36, posted a 2.61 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and had a dominating 13.50 K/9 mark. Seasons like that lead you to the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for Broxton, it's his only season of more than 22 saves, and it was also the last time he was an effective big league pitcher. Over the last two seasons Broxton has been injured an just passable in terms of his production: 6-8, 4.32 ERA an a 1.55 WHIP. He still struck out 9.96 batters per nine innings, but he only threw 75 innings in the two seasons as he just couldn't stay healthy. I can understand why the Royals went with him in the 9th, he has the most experience of their bullpen arms and could bring a nice return if moved at the trade deadline (he's on a one year deal), but I'm still not convinced he is going to be able to hold off Greg Holland all year.

Josh Collmenter was lucky as all heck last year to post a 3.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 154.1 innings. He didn't strike anyone out (5.83 per nine), had a terrible GB/FB ratio (0.71) and seemingly got by mostly on his funky delivery. He looked lost all spring training and it won't take much for the team to consider moving him to the bullpen, not with Trevor Bauer looking ready to give it a go in the majors. In his first start of the year at Double-A Bauer allowed just two hits and no runs, while striking out seven, in five innings.

Johnny Cueto ended last season with a 2.31 ERA but he threw only 156 innings falling short of qualifying for the NL ERA crown (a pitcher needs 162 innings). Well, he added to that excellence in his first start as he tossed seven shutout innings for the Reds. He induced 10 ground balls continuing a trend he started last season of generating a ton of ground balls. Speaking of the Reds, Aroldis Chapman looked completely dominating with two strikeout in a hitless 8th inning. When he is locating his pitches batters stand nary a chance of making hard contact.

Edinson Volquez allowed only three hits and two runs in five innings in his first start with the Padres. Unfortunately he picked up a loss as he walked four batters, including two with the bases loaded. All he needs to do is to throw strikes to be effective. The question is, can he?

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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