Although last week’s slate of games whet the whistle for baseball diehards, this week we’ll finally be able to take in a full schedule of games as teams get back into their normal routines.
It has been a whirlwind half-a-week so far and the world seems to be off its tilt as the New York Mets are 3-0 while the New York Yankees find themselves staring down a 0-3 record.
Several stars have gotten out of the gate fast, while some have stumbled out of the block. This week we will also be witness to the debut of Yu Darvish, who has caused a lot of commotion in the spring. Will the results match the hype?
It should be another exciting week of baseball. So, let’s look at some key players to watch as we enter the first full week of baseball.
Yu Darvish: Texas Rangers
The Rangers will finally show off their new toy this week when prized Japanese pitching prospect Darvish makes his debut on Monday against the Mariners at home.
For a pitcher who proclaims to have eight pitches, Darvish will have to live up to a lot of hype. The Mariners will be a good team for Darvish to open up against, as the Mariners are widely considered one of the lightest hitting teams in baseball. Darvish will also get a second start in the week when he takes on an equally inept Twins squad. If you own Darvish, start him with confidence.
C.J Wilson: Los Angeles Angels
Wilson, who left Texas for a big, fat contract with the Angels, will also make his debut on Monday when his Rangers travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins.
For a team with a strong pitching staff, Wilson will have some pressure to pitch well, especially considering the fact that the Angels already dropped two of three to the Royals. The Twins, who will likely send out Nick Blackburn, should be no match for Wilson and the Angels, though. Wilson will have it tough, though, when he has to take on the Yankees on the road on Saturday.
Miguel Cabrera: Detroit Tigers
With Prince Fielder batting behind him, Cabrera has busted out of the gate with authority and has a look that screams MVP.
Cabrera is batting .455 so far with three home runs and eight RBI’s. Cabrera and the 3-0 Tigers will look to build on their quick start as they take on an equally impressive Tampa Bay squad to start the week before wrapping their week in Chicago against the White Sox.
With the protection Fielder is providing him, there just may be no slowing down Cabrera this year.
David Wright: New York Mets
Don’t look now but the Mets are alone in first place with a 3-0 record.
One of the main reasons behind the Mets’ fast start has been the play of Wright. Wright already has six hits in nine at-bats with one home run to go with three RBI’s and one run.
Wright has shook off the injury bug and looks invigorated amid playing with the new CitiField dimensions. Wright and the Mets will host the Nationals at the beginning of the week before things get tough when they travel to Philadelphia to likely face off against Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley.
Matt Kemp: Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp did nothing this week to dispel the notion that last year was a fluke.
Kemp, who says he wants go for the 50-50 milestone, is off to a roaring start and is batting .412 with two home runs, eight RBI’s, six runs and one stolen base.
It should be a feast for Kemp this week as he and his Dodgers will host the Pirates (Kevin Correia, Erik Bedard and Jeff Karstens) and the Padres (Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez and a pitcher TBD).
Zack Cozart: Cincinnati Reds
Widely regarded as a major sleeper to covet before the season, Cozart is making good on his promise and is raising eyebrows in fantasy circles. If you don’t own this rookie, stop reading and pick him up immediately.
All Cozart has done is hit 6-11 with four of the hits going for extra bases. The Reds will begin the week hosting the Cardinals before traveling to the nation’s capital to take on the Nationals.
Austin Jackson: Detroit Tigers
Jackson is another under-the-radar type who could be available in some shallow leagues and one who should be monitored closely.
It appears that Jackson has cut down on the strikeouts (long known to be a detriment to his value) while going 8-14 this past week. While he has no stolen bases yet, you know he’ll get you them eventually. It is Jackson’s value at the top of that Tigers’ lineup that will make him a viable asset all year.
Rafael Furcal: St. Louis Cardinals
Although it was an abbreviated week, Furcal leads the league in hits with 10 (in 19 at-bats) thus far. Furcal also has two stolen bases so far while adding three doubles and three RBI’s.
So long as Furcal stays healthy (I know, a major stretch), he’ll have great value at a shallow position. The 3-1 Cardinals will look to keep it rolling when they take on the Reds before opening up their season at home vs. the Cubs on Friday.
Starlin Castro: Chicago Cubs
We knew Castro could hit, and with him boasting a .385 batting average he is already off to another strong start.
No, it’s the clip at which he’s stealing bases that is tantalizing his fantasy owners. Castro leads the league with four stolen bases and at this rate we could see his first 30-stolen base campaign. Castro already has moderate power and if he continues to steal bases at this clip, he can ascend into the elite ranks at shortstop with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes.
Castro and the Cubs will take on the Brewers at home this week before venturing off to St. Louis to wrap up the weekend.
Nick Markakis: Baltimore Orioles
Is this the year Markakis puts it all together and finally stops teasing fantasy players?
Well, if this week was any indication then Markakis could be in store for a career year. Markakis hit 5-9 with two home runs and four RBI’s in the short week.
Things will get tough for Markakis this week, though, as the Orioles are slated to take on the Yankees and the Blue Jays.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon