Let's say this for Dan Haren, he faced the music. He sat in front of his locker, handled the questions, gave thoughtful answers. He said he felt good on the mound in his season debut.
Imagine how the Reds must have felt.
Cincinnati clocked four homers off Haren (six in all) in a 15-0 beat down Friday evening. Haren's always been gopher-prone, even in his salad days, but I don't see how anyone can be particularly optimistic about him right now. Haren's injury-plagued 2012 season came out to a 4.33 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 176.2 messy innings, and he was hit hard during spring training (seven homers, 6.39 ERA). Maybe Haren can get something done at Miami in two weeks, but there's no reason to risk your ratios with him against the White Sox on Thursday.
The Nationals don't need to do anything rash with Haren – their top three starters are obviously terrific, and Ross Detwiler might be the best No. 5 starter in the National League. Fantasy owners really can't afford to be this patient. I buried Haren in my spring ranks, so he's not one of my problems. If I did own him, I'd play the timing game and hope to ship him after a good turn or two.
Zack Cozart and Arcade favorite Todd Frazier both went deep twice for the Reds. Cozart doesn't offer the most versatile of profiles, but he could be useful in a J.J. Hardy sort of way (maybe 20-plus homers). You'll find Cozart free to add in 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
While the Reds were digging in and taking their cuts, Homer Bailey was in cruise control on the mound. The post-hype righty allowed just two hits and three walks over six innings, striking out six. Bailey very quietly posted fantasy's best road profile among starting pitchers last year; if he can get better with the home cooking, we're looking at a potential Top 25 starter.
Obviously the ballpark in Cincinnati will always be a good place to hit, but most players generally get a float in their home ballpark, no matter the playability. Maybe I'm thinking too much about Bailey's no-hitter in September or the one-hit gem (over seven innings) in the playoffs, but I'm absolutely a believer. Keep in mind he doesn't turn 27 until May.
• A week ago, the Justin Ruggiano sympathizers had reason for worry. The Rug Rat was coming off a quiet spring and new skipper Mike Redmond was talking about a possible center field platoon between Ruggiano and Chris Coghlan. Perhaps the story is different now that we're six days into the season.
Ruggiano's solo homer was the only offense Miami posted in a three-game Washington wipeout, and he kept the production coming in Friday's win at New York (5-1-2-1, with a double and two steals). Ruggiano has also started two games against right-handed pitching this week, which tells you the platoon is probably dead for the moment. Redmond can't afford to sit anyone who's producing, given the sketchy nature of his lineup.
While a fluky hit rate clouds Ruggiano's surprising breakout from 2012, there's no reason to thumb your nose up at 13 homers and 14 steals over 91 games. Category juice plays in any format. His ownership tag is suspiciously low, just 23-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. Make the point and click.
• Everyone knows the story of the 2013 Astros by now: it's streamer's delight, the best place to get a bunch of cheap strikeouts. Dan Straily was the latest arm to take advantage, fanning 11 in a rocking-chair win at Houston. The Athletics played the McKayla Maroney card after the game, sending Straily down to Triple-A. He'll be the first arm they call on if others get hurt. Bartolo Colon is the next man up on the Houston schedule, so we'll get an interesting test of just how hapless the Astros truly are.
The Astros are on the road next week, visiting Seattle and Anaheim. The Angels don't offer much for streamers (Hanson, Weaver and Wilson are owned just about everywhere), but perhaps you can do something with the Seattle trio (Joe Saunders, Brandon Maurer, Blake Beavan).
• I'm still trying to figure out why so many rotoheads dislike Brandon League so much. His handshakes are as good as anyone else's. League had a creamy-smooth 1-2-3 conversion against Pittsburgh (one strikeout), and he's 7-for-7 since the Dodgers added him to the bullpen in the second half of 2013. They're paying him like a closer, they're treating him like a closer, and this sure looks like a winning ballclub. Whatever you paid for League last month, you're positioned for a major profit.
To be fair, I see the flags with League. His raw stuff isn't anywhere close to Kenley Jansen's, and League's K/BB ratio last year doesn't inspire a ton of confidence. But with a career ground-ball rate of 59 percent and passable ratios across the board (3.59/1.27, with 2.2 strikeouts per walk), let's not hassle it. Closing might look impossible when the Carlos Marmols of the world try to do it, but it's really not that hard. Saves on a budget, always a beautiful thing.
• Everyone knows Chris Davis is a streak hitter (lots of strikeouts, lots of fly balls) but I'm not going to slap the "sell now" ticket on him unless the return is an obvious win. He talked extensively pre-season about using the entire ballpark, and we've seen plenty of that in the opening week. His game-clinching grand slam Friday afternoon was a shot to left field, a great example of a confident hitter taking what's given to him. Davis didn't catch all of it on that latest homer, but given his natural power, he doesn't have to.
If you want to get in on Baltimore's surging offense, can we interest you in Nate McLouth? I know his time in Atlanta soured a lot of fantasy owners for good, but McLouth did a solid job in his 55-game Beltway trial last year (.268-35-7-18-12). He's always been a terrific base stealer on a percentage basis (101-for-117), and he already has a couple of swipes in 2013. Buck Showalter is using McLouth as his primary leadoff man, and you'll find the forgotten veteran free to add in 96 percent of Yahoo! pools.