Count on a soggy Friday; much of the East Coast has rain in the forecast. Still, we won't let that spoil our fantasy fun! Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to make his U.S. debut, 2007 NLCS combatants Arizona and Colorado tangle in Denver, and division rivals Atlanta and the Mets feature quite the pitchers' duel. Read on.
Matchups for Friday, April 4
All times are ET. Statistics are from the 2007 regular season.
David DeJesus, OF, Royals (ankle)
Chris Duncan, OF, Cardinals (hamstring)
Conor Jackson, 1B, Diamondbacks (illness)
Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves (knee)
Victor Martinez, C/1B, Indians (hamstring)
Jorge Posada, C, Yankees (shoulder)
Matt Stairs, OF, Blue Jays (hip)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Not like you'd ever sit Albert Pujols, but watching him hit against Odalis Perez is a thing of beauty; Pujols is 13-for-20 (.650 AVG) with five homers, 15 RBIs and seven walks against the left-hander. ... Lefty against lefty generally isn't a hitter-friendly matchup, but don't tell Adam LaRoche that. He's 6-for-10 (.600 AVG) with three homers lifetime against Scott Olsen. Have no fear. ... I'm not much of a Carlos Delgado fan for 2008, but his lifetime .320 batting average (16-for-50) and six homers against Tim Hudson are enough to convince me to use him Friday. ... Rafael Furcal is 6-for-10 lifetime against Justin Germano, and keep in mind the Padres are dreadful throwing out opposing baserunners. They allowed by far the most steals of any team in baseball in 2007 (189). ... Load up on Dodgers, in fact. As a team, they pummeled Germano in 2007 (0-3 record, 5.60 ERA). Among their standouts (lifetime) against the right-hander: Andruw Jones (3-for-5, .600 AVG, 1 HR), Matt Kemp (5-for-9, .556, 1 HR) and James Loney (4-for-8, .500, 1 HR). ... It's amazing to think that Pedro Feliz is owned in nearly 20 percent of ESPN leagues (actually 19.2), a high number, in my mind. But if you've got him, roll with him. He's 5-for-17 (.294 AVG) with two homers lifetime against the Reds' Josh Fogg. ... Jermaine Dye is 11-for-29 (.379 AVG) with five homers lifetime against Nate Robertson, while Orlando Cabrera is 6-for-9 against the left-hander. ... Don't bother with Ryan Church, who is 3-for-16 (.188 AVG) lifetime against Tim Hudson. ... The same goes for Brandon Inge, one of the few Tigers who can't hit Jose Contreras; he's 8-for-42 (.190 AVG) with one homer in his career against the right-hander. ... Conor Jackson is a must-start, health willing (check the early lineup). Besides being a .302 hitter with an .873 OPS in his career against left-handers, it's a Coors Field game, and he's 3-for-4 with two doubles lifetime against Mark Redman.
Pitchers: It'll be Micah Owings' first career start at Coors Field, and let's do the math for a minute: Fly-ball pitcher plus Coors equals no thank you! Sure, it'll be fun to watch him hit there, particularly against a left-hander like Redman, but hitting stats matter not to the fantasy owner. ... John Maine had a 1.53 ERA and 33 K's in 29 1/3 innings this spring, and he tossed a gem in his only career start at Atlanta's Turner Field last Aug. 31 (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). ... Not that you should sit Maine's opponent, Tim Hudson, either. I don't play for wins alone, and besides, do you know how many quality starts Hudson has in his past 36 starts that counted? Twenty-seven. That's right, 27, or 75 percent. ... Hiroki Kuroda is a ground-ball pitcher, had a respectable 4.18 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this spring and will make his U.S. debut at spacious Petco Park in San Diego. What's not to like?
Hitters: Despite his low ownership percentage, Geoff Jenkins is a must-grab. He's 17-for-31 (.548 AVG) with four homers lifetime against Fogg, and a .312 hitter with 10 homers in 38 career games at Great American. ... If you're speculating for saves, it's a fine day to look to the Mariners' Mark Lowe and Nationals' Jon Rauch. Their teams each play winnable games -- the Mariners are at Baltimore, the Nationals at St. Louis -- and both are off to a solid start. That said, it can't be ruled out that Miguel Batista's save on Wednesday wasn't a one-time thing, as his manager said it was. ... With Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes on the DL, Willie Harris has been sneaking in some time in left field. Considering he's 3-for-3 lifetime against Braden Looper, he's worth a look in NL-only leagues. ... Juan Uribe is 13-for-38 (.342 AVG) with two homers lifetime against Robertson, and he doesn't mind hitting at Detroit's Comerica Park, either; he's a .300 hitter with eight homers in 36 career games there. ... Yuniesky Betancourt is way too hot now not to exploit his matchup against a left-hander. He's off to a 5-for-8 start, with two doubles in his first three games.
Pitchers: I'll take a shot on Ian Kennedy, who had a 2.00 ERA in 18 spring innings, displaying remarkably good command for a rookie. The Rays boast an underrated offense, but Kennedy is talented enough to be useful in deeper leagues. ... Paul Byrd had a 7-4 record and 3.51 ERA in 15 road starts in 2007, and note that the Athletics' weak offense totaled 11 runs in its first four contests. ... In no way do I fear the Giants' offense, so feel free to take a look at Carlos Villanueva, who had a 2.63 ERA in 24 spring innings.
There's an 80 percent chance of rain right now in Detroit, though it's expected to end around 2 p.m. Of course, rain is also forecast from Thursday night leading into game time. ... Rain is in the forecast in Baltimore all day Friday, leading into early Saturday morning. ... Up the coast, there's a 70 percent chance of rain in New York on Friday night, heading into overnight. ... No rain is forecast in Cincinnati on Friday night, but there's a 100 percent chance of rain Thursday night, Friday morning and afternoon. A wet field could be a factor. ... Heavy winds (20-plus mph) are expected in Florida. ... Rain (60 percent chance) and heavy winds (20-plus mph) are forecast in Atlanta for Friday night.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.