Long year in Miami ahead (USAT)Not every Closing Time has a deep and developed opening theme. Sometimes we simply load up the bullets and go where they take us.
• If you're a regular streamer in fantasy baseball, you surely took note of Houston's opening series against Texas. The Astros struck out 43 times in the three games, and look like an appealing target for the 2013 season. We discussed this at length in the Yu Darvish celebration piece on Wednesday.
This doesn't make Houston a one-stop shop for the Stream Police, of course. Take a look at what the Miami Marlins did – and didn't do – in their opening-week washout against the Nationals.
Miami scored just one run in the three-game sweep (on a Justin Ruggiano home run), posting an anemic .167/.227/.222 line in the capital city. Washington's terrific pitching staff deserves a lot of the credit, of course, but look at the names in the Marlins batting order. Other than Giancarlo Stanton, who's scary here? Donovan Solano and Placido Polanco don't keep opponents up at night (and heck, they're two of the better sticks on the club). This is a matchup we'll want to exploit early and often for 2013. Where have you gone, Jeff Conine?
The Mets draw Miami for this weekend, but there might not be streaming utility in those three games. Jon Niese (Saturday's starter) is already gobbled up in most leagues, while Jeremy Hefner and Aaron Laffey are below most streaming standards. But the Braves offer an interesting opportunity for Monday, when Paul Maholm (40 percent owned) takes on the Marlins. Kris Medlen and Mike Minor work later in the series.
Maholm has settled in nicely as an underrated, staff-supporting lefty over the last few years, posting an ERA in the 3.50-3.70 range along with an acceptable WHIP. He offered 3.54/1.19 ratios in his 11 starts in Atlanta last year, and was solid in an opening-week victory over Roy Halladay and the Phillies (one run, one walk, six strikeouts). Basically this is another Mark Buehrle type - the strikeout rate will never sing, but Maholm forces opponents to beat him. And pitching to contact is a fine way to do business when you're backed by Atlanta's terrific outfield (Upton, Upton, Heyward) and shortstop (defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons).Read More »from Closing Time: Picking on the Marlins; hello again to Trevor Bauer