By Nolan Shulman
Is there a better time to breath the morning air than spring? If you are a sports fanatic, you know the feeling I'm referring to. You wake up and step outside. The sun is warm and the air is chill. You're in a good mood, but you can't figure out why. Your brain is consumed with day dreams and your belly exploding with pizza delivery. If you were to compare a fanatical sports fan to an accountant, it's the equivalent of finding yourself smack in the middle of tax season. Your wife, boss, and family just don't understand. Then again, they aren't tasked with trying to balance their everyday responsibilities with the NBA Playoffs, NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, NHL Playoffs, and The Players Championship.
For those of us who take being a fanatic to the next level, there is also America’s pastime to consider. The great game of baseball is one of the most time consuming commitments of them all. While it may currently take a backseat on Sports Center, that doesn’t mean we aren’t watching. For those of us who play fantasy baseball, we know that this time of year is as important as any throughout the grueling MLB schedule. While we get spoiled with 162 great games scattered throughout the summer months, most of us have learned the hard way that the matchups in May set the landscape for success in October.
With that in mind let’s take a look at 4 pitching matchups that have baseball fans salivating at the chance to watch a few games this Mother’s Day weekend.
Thursday Night –Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees
Matchup: David Price vs CC Sabathia
2 Division Rivals, 2 Staff Aces, 2 of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball. If you are expecting to see a plethora of offense and excitement this is not the matchup you want to see. If you want to watch pure brilliance and two guys who don’t just throw hard but view pitching as an art you better tune in. When these two teams face each other you can rest assured they are playing for keeps. One pitch in this game could be the difference of playing in October or watching from home.
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Friday Night - Anaheim Angels @ Texas Rangers
Matchup: CJ Wilson vs Yu Darvish
This is not your typical regular season matchup. After a cy young season, one would have expected the Texas Rangers to not only open the bank and resign Wilson, but jump at the chance. Instead they let a left handed ace walk onto the free agent market and sign with a division rival. Nolan Ryan and John Daniels chose to invest the money required to re-sign Wilson in their pursuit of Yu Darvish, the top Japanese player who had yet to throw a ball in the MLB. Darvish, a towering pitcher who stands 6 feet 6 inches tall, has been impressive thus far carrying a 4-1 record with a 2.54 ERA and appears to be worth the price of admission. This will be his biggest game to date when he faces off against the man he ran out of town. With Albert Pujols finally returning to the home run column, Wilson is hoping his teammates provide him with enough run support to pick up the win and show the Rangers they might have been mistaken in letting him go.
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Saturday - Tampa Bay Rays vs Baltimore Orioles
Matchup: Matt Moore vs Brian Matusz
When a young pitcher makes his debut in the playoffs against the most successful team in baseball (NY Yankees) and he pitches a monster game, expectations begin to build. Moore is one of baseball’s most highly touted young hurlers. He was given rave reviews throughout the off-season, but it's been somewhat of a slow start for Moore to date (1-2, 5.71 era). Oriole fans and scouts alike have now been waiting four years for Matusz to become a dominant pitcher. At this point, they'd settle on him morphing into a serviceable one. Development has been slow and injuries have derailed his progress. His talent, mechanics, and velocity are all there. It’s just a matter of gaining some confidence. His 1-5 record and 5.91 ERA have done nothing to help his cause. Both teams are 19-10 and this game should get one promising young pitcher back on track.
Sunday - Atlanta Braves @ St. Louis Cardinals
Matchup: Tommy Hanson vs Lance Lynn
Who is Lance Lynn you ask? You didn’t read about him in your season preview magazine, as he wasn’t projecting as one of baseball’s top starters in 2012. He’s a product of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, one year removed from his days as a middle reliever. Through 6 starts, Lynn is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. If that doesn’t have you impressed, Lynn’s 37 k’s through 38.2 innings pitched has had fantasy baseball fanatics fighting to add him off the waiver wire. His value in daily fantasy sports has been climbing with each inning pitched. The Braves lead the National League in runs scored, and they send their staff ace, Tommy Hanson, to the mound. Hanson is as consistent a starter as they come. Will Lynn be able to slow down the Braves offense and continue his torrid pace? The answer to that question will determine whether or not the Cardinals can avoid the Tomahawk Chop.
Enjoy this weekend’s action.