By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on March 23, 2014
Fans around the world are getting ready for the start of the 2014 MLB season. However, the excitement isn’t just about watching games on opening day and finally having baseball back in our lives. Part of the excitement is the return of fantasy baseball. With so many players to choose from, here are 10 starting pitchers fantasy owners must start on opening day.
Jose Fernandez came out of nowhere last season as the rookie sensation has proven to be a legitimate threat on the mound. With the Colorado Rockies on slate for opening day, Fernandez is someone owners will want to give the start. There’s always a concern when a player makes his first opening day appearance, but Fernandez is someone who has shown the ability to handle the pressure.
Justin Masterson has looked really good in spring training, as he’s posted a 0.95 ERA in 19 innings. Going up against the Oakland Athletics won’t be easy, but he has shown steady improvement over the past few years. All signs point to him continuing his increase in production, which will start on opening day.
The San Francisco Giants will want to begin the season on the right foot against a division rival, and they will look to Madison Bumgarner to give them the edge. Fantasy owners should do the same thing. Bumgarner has yet to surrender a run in Spring Training despite tossing 17 innings.
Chris Sale’s struggles in Spring Training shouldn’t prevent fans from giving him a start on opening day. The left-hander is a proven asset on the mound who should be able to dominate the Minnesota Twins on the first day of the season.
Felix Hernandez has dominated on the mound for years. His 4.32 ERA in spring training is a bit of a concern, but the truth is it shouldn’t be something fantasy owners lose sleep over, especially since he’s a proven talent. Even though the Los Angeles Angels’ offense has looked good in spring, I would still put my money on King Felix coming through in the clutch.
Not starting Francisco Liriano on opening day would be a massive mistake for any fantasy owner who has him on their roster. Liriano will be going up against a horrendous Chicago Cubs team that has looked awful in Spring Training. Even if Liriano shows some rust on the mound, owners will still get their worth out of him on the first day of the season.
Don’t be surprised if Yu Darvish puts forth a supreme effort on opening day. His Spring Training numbers aren’t jumping off the page, but he will be going up against the worst offense in baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies are batting .227 with just 80 RBIs this spring. Darvish’s talent and Philadelphia’s inability to record hits has all the makings of a magical outing.
Stephen Strasburg will be looking to help the Washington Nationals bounce back from their down season in 2013. One way to do that is by getting off to a strong start on opening day. Strasburg has been a star in the making for years. However, he has yet to take his game to the next level. Opening day will be just the beginning of what could be a great season. Any owner who misses out on that doesn’t deserve the right-hander on his roster.
It’s been announced that Justin Verlander will get the call over Max Scherzer on opening day. Verlander has been flawless in Spring Training, which will easily transition over to the regular season. That’s just what happens when you’re one of the best starters in baseball. Verlander will take the mound against an upcoming Kansas City Royals team that has looked very good this spring.
James Shields will have his hands full on opening day against a very talented Detroit Tigers team. Detroit has looked good this spring, but so has Shields. The Royals have high expectations for the 2014 season and they will be looking for Shields to point them in the right direction. Even though the game will be intense, he has the stuff to give any fantasy owner confidence.
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