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Opening Day is here! The first week of Fantasy Baseball is upon us. Yes, we have already seen two official games in Australia, but those were so early they almost don’t even count. The Seattle Mariners start their highly anticipated season tomorrow against the LA Angels, and their Fantasy Baseball presence will be in strong effect.
Felix Hernandez is taking the mound tomorrow for the Mariners on Opening Day. This will be his club’s record setting seventh time, breaking the mark set by the beloved Mariner Randy Johnson. Pitching against the Angels won’t be an easy task considering their star studded lineup, but we can expect good things from Felix as usual.
Felix has an outstanding 4-0 record on Opening Day with a low 1.33 ERA. We all know he pitches every game with intense passion, but opening day seems to bring out that much more from Felix each year. The King is going to need all the help he can get, as his career record against the Angels isn’t anything to write home about. He holds a career 3.92 ERA with only eight wins and thirteen losses against LA.
The good news for Felix is that he won’t have the feeling of being alone out there. The improved Mariners offense looks to boost his run support and win column. The lineup now includes Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, and the improved progression of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seagar. Look for these players to take some pressure off Felix, as he will no longer have the strain of carrying the team on his own.
Felix will also be pitching this week against the Oakland Athletics. Based on the five man rotation, we can expect to see The King take the mound again on Saturday or Sunday. The A’s have been hit hard with injuries to their pitching staff during spring training, and are not the strong team that won the AL West last year. Expect Felix to continue his dominant form in Oakland and the Mariners’ offense take advantage of the A’s struggles at starting pitching.
WEEKLY FANTASY PROJECTION: FELIX HERNANDEZ
14 IP, 1 W, 10 K, 3.53 ERA and 1.25 WHIP
In the past, the only presence for the Mariners in fantasy baseball has been the pitching, but this year we also get to look forward to seeing our offensive players atop the charts. Robinson Cano is currently ranked 10th overall in Fantasy Baseball going into the 2014 season, and the number one ranked second basemen in the game. The Mariners now have Cano batting in the heart of their lineup and get to see his fantasy numbers stack up all year with an (SEA) next to his name.
Cano has absolutely destroyed the Angels throughout his career. He carries a lifetime .313 AVG, 13 HR, and 51 RBI against LA; and we don’t expect that to slow down anytime soon. Many experts projected Cano’s fantast value to drop now that he is hitting in Seattle’s lineup, but Spring Training proved that his offensive numbers are in good shape for a successful year.
The Mariners have practically built their lineup around Cano to ensure big numbers and offensive productivity. Runners will be on base with Brad Miller and Kyle Seager hitting in front of Cano, and protection behind him with Hart and Smoak. I don’t see any reason why Fantasy Baseball managers shouldn’t keep Cano in their lineups all year.
WEEKLY FANTASY PROJECTION: ROBINSON CANO
.333 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 RUNS, 0 SB
This week’s Mariners Fantasy Baseball Sleeper player is Fernando Rodney. The Mariners filled a major gap at the closer position when they signed Rodney as a free agent this offseason. The Starting Rotation has taken a hit due to injuries in Spring Training, so expect some struggling the first 2-3 weeks.
Playing against the LA Angels and Oakland Athletics will definitely bring out some close scores going into the ninth inning. Seattle is not a team that will win their games in blowout fashion, especially playing in the power studded AL West division. Having Rodney as your closer will give you plenty of tight scoring save opportunities. Feel confident plugging his name into your RP spot this week in Fantasy Baseball.
WEEKLY FANTASY PROJECTION: FERNANDO RODNEY
2 SV, 2 K, 3.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP
Although the overall team record does not count in Fantasy Baseball, I still feel the Mariners will have a strong first week to begin the season. Expect some bumps in the road with backups starting in our rotation. But look forward to two quality starts by Felix and plugging in Cano’s bat into your Fantasy lineup every day.