Fantasy Baseball: Start ‘em and Sit ‘em for Friday, April 4th

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Hey Tanaka! I got some of that Colby cheddar cheese waiting right here for you, big boy (via Toronto Sun)

Well, now that my introduction has been put aside (I made my debut here yesterday), let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Friday’s slate of MLB games is an interesting one for fantasy baseball owners.

There will be a number of young pitchers taking the mound who have limited major league service time, making things less cut and dry when it comes to deciding who to start and sit.

Guys like Danny Salazar, Jake Odorizzi, David Hale, Gerrit Cole, Tom Koehler, Erik Johnson, and Jenrry Mejia all made their debuts last season, giving us little insight into their matchups.  That list doesn’t even include Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, who will be making his first start as a New York Yankee.

Selecting which hitters to put in your starting lineup based off their batter vs. pitcher history may not be the correct route.  In a case like today, we’ll have to move past that and delve into hitter tendencies and ballpark statistics.

START ‘EM:

» Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays: Speaking of Masahiro Tanaka, he’ll get to face the heavy-hitting Toronto Blue Jays in his U.S. (Canadian??) debut.  Quite the welcome, right?  This is one of those matchups that you can’t look at past history, because well, there is none.  Rasmus, who is coming off his best season as a pro (22 HR, 66 RBI, .276 BA), absolutely crushed right-handed pitching in 2013, batting .284/.359/.534 with 16 HR.  On the flip side, his slash line of .256/.288/.424 vs. LHP was a little less than desirable.  He also fared much better in his home park, where he smashed 14 of his 22 homers and slugged an incredible .563.  The Jays are simply a superior hitting team when playing in Toronto — with a .759 OPS compared to .699 on the road — and why not, the Rogers Centre is known as one of the best hitters’ ball parks in baseball.  Poor Tanaka.  He’s already had enough destruction to deal with for one lifetime.

Fire ‘em up: Dee Gordon (6-for-18, .333 BA, 2 SB vs. Vogelsong), Brian Roberts (6-for-13, .462 BA, HR, 1 2B, 3 RBI vs. McGowan), James Loney (8-for-29, .276 BA, 2 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBI vs. Saunders), David Freese (5-for-12, .417 BA, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI vs. Harrell), Chris Carter (5-for-9, .556 BA, HR, 2B, 3 RBI vs. Richards)

SIT ‘EM:

» The entire New York Mets’ lineup: Okay, so this covers a very broad spectrum, but I make the rules here, buddy!  The Mets, coming off three straight losses to open the season, will face Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher Mike Leake on Friday.  There’s no sugar coating it — Leake has made the Mets his bitch throughout his four-year career.  In six games against them, the 26-year-old right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  He’s even better at Citi Field, where Friday’s game is being played, compiling a minuscule 0.69 ERA with 9 K over 13 IP.  Current Mets hitters are just 19-for-72 (.264) with only 6 XBH vs. Leake in their careers, including a combined .171 BA (7-for-41) from David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Ike Davis.  On another note, Mike Leake is only owned in 4.5 percent of ESPN.com fantasy baseball leagues, so you’d be wise to add him if you need to stream a pitcher on Friday.

You’re just not cutting it: Martin Prado (1-for-11, .091 BA, 2 K vs. Nicasio), Alexei Ramirez (6-for-38, .158 BA, 3 XBH, 4 K vs. Guthrie), Nyjer Morgan (4-for-22, .182 BA vs. Pelfrey), Mark Reynolds (3-for-20, .150 BA, 11 K vs. Peavy), Dan Uggla (2-for-17, .118 BA, 4 K vs. Zimmermann)

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