I don't know if I'll make this any sort of running thing, but I thought I'd look at some of the more interesting match-ups to come today. Personally, I consider Craig Calcaterra's "And That Happened..." pieces to be a daily must-read, the guy's an absolute monster when it comes to daily recaps. But today, nothing has really happened yet (don't worry, I know that the Rockies are smacking Doug Davis around right now), so instead, I'd like to look at what's scheduled to happen.
- After kicking off the season with the exciting Duke-Padilla match-up on Monday (not to be confused with the legitimately exciting Duke-Butler game from the same day, I don't think that you'd confuse Padilla with anyone from Indiana), the Pirates and Dodgers are stepping it up a notch, sending two of the their better respective young pitchers out on the mound. I personally just love watching lefty Clayton Kershaw, few pitchers can make a baseball do the things that he can. The combination of velocity, offspeed stuff and developing command make him one of the game's greatest talents, you just gotta hope that he doesn't go all Mark Prior on us. If he wins a Cy Young this year, nobody should be all that surprised. Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf is pretty interesting, too, even if he's not all that special as a pitcher.
- Two starters that could totally shift the dynamic of the AL Central kick off their seasons tonight, as Jake Peavy and Fausto Carmona start for Chicago and Cleveland, respectively, tonight. Both have either won or contended for Cy Young Awards, but questions surround each of them. How will Peavy adjust to the new league and ballpark? Will Carmona ever rediscovered the command of his two-seamer that made him so dominant three years ago? Does Cleveland even have a chance of winning the division if both Westbrook and Carmona suck? Tonight's only the beginning of our quest to answer these questions, which could be huge in deciding who makes the postseason.
- A battle of AL contenders bring together two of the more polarizing pitchers in the game, Twins righty Carl Pavano and Angels righty Ervin Santana. Santana was worth nearly six wins in 2008, but a major decline in his velocity (1.9 MPH on average) and command spelled doom to one of the games most talked about young pitchers. At 27, Santana's coming into a make-or-break season for a guy who's alternated great seasons with poor ones. Pavano, on the other hand, is out to prove that his near-4 fWAR performance last yeare wasn't an outlier. Given that it's not the first time that Pavano has gone that long while pitching so well (he's got three seasons of 3.4+ fWAR), he could make himself a lot of money with another nice year. They both start their seasons today, and they could really swing the tides in their respective divisions with big seasons.
- My allegiances will be stretched tonight, too, when the Cubs face the Braves. As a Chicagoan, I gotta root for my Cubbies. But Braves starter Jair Jurrjens is one of my top pitchers on my Ball on a Budget team, and I expect to be a juggernaut. Then again, given how Big Z got smacked around on Monday, a good outing from Ryan Dempster would do a lot to make me feel better.