The Orioles travel to Tampa Bay this weekend for three games against the Rays. After splitting victories in the first two games of the season, the two teams have headed in opposite directions. The Orioles had won six straight games before losing a doubleheader yesterday to the Texas Rangers, while the Rays had lost four straight games before winning yesterday against the Seattle Mariners.
To make matters worse for the Rays, they've also lost three players to injuries in the last week. Left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir started the season on the disabled list, so that means four Tampa Bay players have already been bitten by the injury bug and the season is less than two weeks old.
Catcher Dioner Navarro was placed on the 15-day disabled list after he fell in the dugout during last Friday's game in New York and cut his hand. Starting pitcher Matt Garza was added to the disabled list on Tuesday after he left his start early with an injured throwing arm. Designated hitter Cliff Floyd joined them Wednesday on the disabled list with a medial meniscus tear in his right knee.
Friday 4/11: Jeremy Guthrie vs. James Shields
Saturday 4/12: Daniel Cabrera vs. Jason Hammel
Sunday 4/13: Brian Burres vs. Jeff Niemann
Who you should play from the Rays
Eric Hinske, RF – As ridiculous as it sounds, it might be a good idea to grab Hinske if you're looking for a cheap outfielder who will be getting a lot of playing time in the next few weeks. He'll see a lot of action in Floyd's absence and should be serviceable in deep leagues. The 2002 AL Rookie of the Year can still hit for moderate power, especially against the Orioles. Hinske has a .268 batting average with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs in 291 at-bats against the Orioles. When the two teams played on Opening Day, Hinske was 1-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored.
Who you should bench from the Rays
B.J. Upton, CF – Upton is one of the better fantasy options in Tampa Bay, but he's been slumping lately. In his last six games, Upton is 3-for-21 with only one extra-base hit (a double). Although he typically plays well against the Orioles, it's probably a good idea to give Upton a break if you have another solid player to take his place.
Who you should play from the Orioles
Aubrey Huff, DH – In 19 career games against the Rays, Huff is hitting .366 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs. Perhaps you should consider designating a spot on your team for Huff and start him in games when the O's play the Rays. Throw in the fact that he has been hitting well recently and you've got a pretty good sleeper pick for this weekend. Look for Huff to continue to torch the Rays and for their fans to continue to boo him relentlessly.
Who you should bench from the Orioles
Adam Jones, CF – There may be a point during this season where Jones becomes a legitimate fantasy starter, but he doesn't have much value at this point – although he had two hits in the first game of the doubleheader yesterday. Right now, he's too inconsistent to be counted upon on a daily basis. That doesn't mean he won't have a game or two where he plays like a superstar, but it's a safer pick to start someone else in the outfield. Stash him on the bench because a time will come when he'll be valuable to the success of your fantasy team.