With April about to be put in the rearview mirror, the baseball season is about to heat up.
With a monthâ€™s worth of data to digest, we can accurately begin to assess whoâ€™s for real and whoâ€™s set to regress.
This past week was highlighted by the arrival of Bryce Harper, and wouldnâ€™t you know, he leads our players to watch this week.
Bryce Harper: Washington Nationals
Harper made his highly-anticipated debut on Saturday and instantly made his presence felt with an RBI double and outstanding defense on the field.
Harper is 2-6 so far and will get set to make his home debut and face the Diamondbacksâ€™ Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders (who is red-hot, did I just say that?) and Ian Kennedy before taking on the Phillesâ€™ Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels.
Mike Trout: Los Angeles Angels
Just a notch below Harper (or a notch ahead, depending on who you talk to) in the super-hyped prospect department is the Angelsâ€™ Mike Trout.
With the Angels releasing the ineffective Bobby Abreu, it opens up more playing time for Trout. Thus far he is off to a rocky start, going 0-7 with a walk. This week, Trout and theÂ reeling Angels will face off against a mediocre Twinsâ€™ staff (Nick Blackburn, Francisco Liriano and Liam Hendriks) and a less-than intimidating Blue Jay staff (Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez and Drew Hutchison)- all at home.
Johnny Damon: Cleveland Indians
It has been reported that the Indians will call up Johnny Damon and that heâ€™ll be ready to make his debut at Chicago on Tuesday.
It should be interesting to see how much juice Damon has left in his bat at age 38. He may not start on Tuesday since the White Sox will send lefty Chris Sale to the mound, but he should get some time in against Phil Humber and then perhaps sit again with John Danks wrapping up the series.
The Indians will round out the week with a series at home against the Rangers (Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish). Obviously, this isn’t the week to start Damon, but he should be monitored.
Bryan LaHair: Chicago Cubs
Anthony Rizzo who?
LaHair is doing his best to keep his job, or well enough that if they call up Rizzo, the Cubs could squeeze LaHair into the outfield. LaHair is on fire and is 13 for his last 32 with two home runs, seven RBIâ€™s and eight runs scored.
This week LaHair and the Cubs will take on the Phillies to wrap up their weekend series in Philadelphia (Worley) and then take on the Reds (Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey) on the road before coming home to take on the Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang).
Adam Wainwright: St. Louis Cardinals
If Wainwright is to get his season going, this week would be an ideal time to do so.
Wainwright, he of a 0-3 record and 7.32 ERA, will get the Pirates at home before having to take on the Astros on the road.
Itâ€™s still too early to give up on Wainwright, but he would put his owners at ease with a solid week.
Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels
OK, this is getting ridiculous.
At what point do you say there is something wrong with Pujols and this is just no ordinary slump?
The revered slugger has yet to go deep and this week heâ€™ll face the same unsuspecting staffs (Twins and the Blue Jays) that Trout will face.
Enough is enough. I say this is the week Pujols gets off the schneid and goes deep.
Chris Sale: Chicago White Sox
With two solid starts this week, Sale could start to gain trust as a must-start option.
With a 2-1 record and a 3.12 ERA, Sale is starting to make good on his promise. Saleâ€™s command is improving and has only issued seven walks compared to 26 strikeouts in 26 innings.
This week Sale will face the Indians at home before squaring off against the Tigers on the road. While pitching on the road in Detroit is no easy task, at least heâ€™ll be opposed by Duane Below.
Hiroki Kuroda: New York Yankees
Just as it is an important week for Wainwright, the same logic can be applied to the Yankeesâ€™ Kuroda.
With the news that the Yanks will be down Michael Pineda for the year and Andy Pettitte still a few weeks from making his return, the Yanks will need to get solid production from Kuroda (1-3, 4.38 ERA).
For the Yanks to go far this year, they need to get the pitcher they signed up for when they signed Kuroda in the offseason. It begins with two starts against the Orioles (at home) and the Royals on the road.
Tommy Milone: Oakland Athletics
Have you jumped on the Tommy Milone bandwagon yet?
If not, this week would be a good time as ever, as heâ€™s set for two starts. On the flip side, though, both of the starts are on the road against two solid lineups (Boston and Tampa Bay).
If Milone (3-1, 2.00 ERA) gets through the week unscathed, he will become a must-add off the wire and a pitcher to trust.
Tony Campana: Chicago Cubs
With yet another stolen base on Sunday, Campana is making himself a popular name off the waiver wire, especially in rotisserie leagues.
Now that Marlon Byrd is in Boston, it has opened a door for Campana to run right through it. Campana is capitalizing on his opportunity, batting .435 on the season in 23 at-bats with six stolen bases in total.
With seven games on the slate, now would be a good time to get Campana active.
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