Zachary Britton - Baltimore Orioles - @ Tampa Bay Rays - 1:40 EST Sunday 4/3/11 - 1.0% Ownership in ESPN Leagues
A handful of decent options are available, but I have to recommend the recently promoted Britton here. Here's a guy who was only in the minors because the Orioles wanted to delay his arbitration another year. With the injury to Matusz, the Orioles were forced to bring him up into the rotation early and he will likely stick all year. Britton had a great 1.35 ERA in the spring and has his K/9 hanging out around 7 for the last three years in the minors. The Rays have only managed to score one run in each game so far against the Orioles and lost their best hitter in Evan Longoria on Saturday to an oblique injury. Britton isn't an ideal pick...But he's the strongest option on a day filled with question marks.
The Rest -
Javier Vazquez (15.7%) Florida vs New York Mets - Vasquez is a very strong second choice and nearly got the nod here but he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings in his last spring start Thursday and has been dealing with elbow tightness. Too much risk of him getting blown up for him to get my recommendation here.
Brett Cecil (2.9%) Toronto vs Minnesota - I'm not a huge Brett Cecil fan as much as I'm down on the other options available here. Toronto's bats have been hot so he should give you a decent ERA and WHIP and has a good shot to grab you up a win.
This line represents the lowest guy on this list I would spot start in a standard 10-team mixed league. Everyone after this on the list is for people who are either streaming starters, crazy desperate for starting pitching, or in AL/NL/Deep leagues.
R.A. Dickey (5.6%) New York Mets at Florida - Dickey is a serviceable spot starter at times... but I don't like him for the start here. There are better options available and I like to see that a knuckleball pitcher is pitching well during the regular season before I'll start him. Knuckleballers are rare so spring numbers don't mean much as far as I'm concerned with them because so few kids playing in spring have seen a lot of that.
Randy Wolf (16.0%) Milwaukee at Cincinnati - Wolf is a solid enough starter who will likely get a recommendation here later in the year, but playing against Cinci's strong line-up at the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark knocks him down my list here.
Barry Zito (3.0%) San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers - Zito is aging and was in a car crash on Friday. Just want to make that clear. I'd rather throw out Zito off a car accident than any of the guys following.
Doug Fister (0.3%) Seattle at Oakland - He probably wont get you a win or many strike outs, but he's the last guy on this list who can be pretty counted on to provide a solid ERA and WHIP.
Justin Masterson (0.2%) Cleveland vs Chicago White Sox - Masterson is a solid strikeout pitcher who would be a solid fantasy option if he was on a better team. As it stands, his offense can't be counted on for much run support and he's playing the White Sox who have scored 23 runs in two games already.
Bud Norris (1.1%) Houston at Philadelphia - Same logic applies to Norris that applies to Masterson. He's a decent strikeout pitcher on a bad team going up against a tough line-up with minimal expected run support. He's lower than Masterson on the list because his start was moved up to Sunday because of J.A. Happ's injury.
Nick Blackburn (0.5%) Minnesota at Toronto - Blackburn isn't going to get you a lot of strike outs and has a bad match-up here against the power laden Blue Jays. He's only getting mentioned here because he's still better than the last guy on the list.
Scott Kazmir (0.7%) Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City - Kazmir is getting old and had an atrocious spring ERA. However he's playing the Royals... That counts for something.
Matt Harrison, Bruce Chen, Joe Saunders, Ross Ohlendorf, and Dustin Moseley - These guys should not be started in any leagues for any reason. Simple.