It's time to shake off the rust of a long offseason. Baseball is back. The regular season kicks off on Sunday, and fantasy leagues will get into full swing next week.
That means it's time for the year's first edition of The Week Ahead. For our loyal readers, welcome back! For those who are unfamiliar, here's what you can expect each Friday during the regular season:
Going Twice: This is a thorough breakdown of pitchers who will start twice in the upcoming week (for our purposes, the fantasy baseball week runs from Monday through Sunday). We divide them up into three tiers of quality (Strong Plays, Decent Plays, At Your Own Risk) and we always call out several recommended sleeper picks in the intro space.
Streamer City: We serve up 2-3 pitchers from both the AL and NL who are owned in less than 50 percent of fantasy leagues but are worth picking up and streaming for particular match-ups. I've had numerous readers tell me that closely following this section made a big difference in their seasons. Utilizing the right streamers is a key way to gain an edge.
Total Games: A rundown of how many games each team across the majors has on the schedule for the upcoming week. This can help you make evaluations when you're choosing between a couple different options in your lineup. We'll also occasionally call out relevant scheduling quirks, like double-headers or teams that face an unusually high dosage of lefty starters.
The Infirmary: The latest updates on noteworthy injured players. We'll let you know what's wrong with them and when they're expected back.
If you have any questions, or you spot anything amiss, feel free to contact me on Twitter or via email (linked in the footer). I do my best, but projecting 30 rotations 10 days out can be tricky business so I always appreciate help from readers to ensure the most accuracy possible.
With all of that said, I look forward to helping you all out with setting your lineups this season. Let's get to it with our Week 1 preview:
* Since every pitcher on the two-start list this week is either a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for his team, there really aren't any "At Your Own Risk" cases. Obviously, the "Decent Plays" are less highly recommended than the "Strong Plays."
* Among those Decent Plays, here are a few that stand out: Garrett Richards (two home starts), Ervin Santana (posted 1.13 ERA in spring while flashing strong velocity, undrafted in most leagues), Raisel Iglesias (favorable home match-ups against Phillies and Pirates).
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David Price: @CLE, @TOR
Chris Sale: @OAK, CLE
Jose Quintana: @OAK, CLE
Corey Kluber: BOS, @CWS
Dallas Keuchel: @NYY, @MIL
Sonny Gray: CWS, @SEA
Felix Hernandez: @TEX, OAK
Cole Hamels: SEA, @LAA
Masahiro Tanaka: HOU, @DET
Chris Tillman: MIN, TB
Garrett Richards: CHC, TEX
Ervin Santana: @BAL, @KC
Drew Smyly: TOR, @BAL
Martin Perez: SEA, @LAA
R.A. Dickey: @TB, BOS
Rich Hill: CWS, @SEA
Zack Greinke: COL, CHC
Jake Arrieta: @LAA, @ARI
Clayton Kershaw: @SD, @SF
Madison Bumgarner: @MIL, LAD
Johnny Cueto: @MIL, LAD
Shelby Miller: COL, CHC
Raisel Iglesias: PHI, PIT
Jorge De La Rosa: @ARI, SD
Scott Kazmir: @SD, @SF
Wily Peralta: SF, HOU
Jeremy Hellickson: @CIN, @NYM
Tyson Ross: LAD, @COL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, April 5th: Andrew Heaney vs. CHC
The 24-year-old southpaw embarks on his sophomore season with a home interleague tilt. He's a strong breakout candidate this year.
Wednesday, April 6th: Kyle Gibson @ BAL
Gibson was Minnesota's best starter in 2015, and if he can add a few more strikeouts he's got a chance to be a real fantasy asset. His spring was promising in that regard.
Thursday, April 7th: Derek Holland @ LAA
Last year Holland went 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts against the Angels, and he's aiming for similar success against their unintimidating lineup this time around.
Tuesday, April 5th: Jimmy Nelson vs. SF
The right-hander isn't carrying a lot of hype into this season despite his solid numbers across the board in Milwaukee last year. He posted a 1.80 ERA in spring training.
Wednesday, April 6th: Juan Nicasio vs. STL
How can you not be intrigued after the spring he had? Nicasio unexpectedly won a spot in the Bucs rotation with 24 strikeouts over 15 scoreless innings.
Wednesday: April 6th: Brandon Finnegan vs. PHI
Finnegan has averaged a strikeout per inning thus far in his young big-league career, and draws a plum home match-up against the Phillies to open his 2016 campaign.
6: BAL, BOS, CLE, HOU, LAA, MIN, NYY, SEA, TB, TOR
7: CWS, OAK, TEX
5: ATL, MIA, PIT, STL, WAS
6: CHC, CIN, COL, MIL, PHI, SD
7: ARI, LAD, SF
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Kevin Gausman: Out until mid-April (shoulder)
Eduardo Rodriguez: Out until May (knee)
Lonnie Chisenhall: Out until mid-April (forearm)
Daniel Norris: Out indefinitely (back)
Cameron Maybin: Out until mid-April (wrist)
Mike Minor: Out until late May (shoulder)
Jarrod Dyson: Out until late April (oblique)
Brett Anderson: Out until late June (back)
C.J. Wilson: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Will Smith: Out indefinitely (knee)
Jung Ho Kang: Out until late April (knee)
Jhonny Peralta: Out until June (thumb)
Brad Boxberger: Out until late May (core)
Josh Hamilton: Out until mid-May (knee)
Yu Darvish: Out until late May (elbow)