There is perhaps no day of the season tougher for a team like the Pirates than the day after the home opener. One day after all the pagentry and feel-goodery and, well, fans in the stands that come with Opening Day, the players are faced with what will likely be a much smaller crowd and Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw is the Dodgers' true ace, coming off of an excellent 2009 season in which he allowed the fewest hits per nine innings in the NL and fifth in ERA and strikeouts per nine, all while being the third youngest player in the league at the age of 21. So he's really good and there's a solid chance that the offensive parade that started on Monday comes to a pretty rapid halt against him. He does walk a lot of hitters, so we can use tonight as an early test of the team's plate patience. That may be the best chance the Pirates' offense has of getting to the lefty.
For the Pirates, Ross Ohlendorf gets to try and erase the bad taste of his spring training by starting the season off on the right foot. Spring training stats are more or less worthless, though, so the things to keep an eye on with Ohlendorf tonight are his fastball velocity (is it sitting around 93 or 94, or dipping lower?) and his flyballs/home runs. Ohlendorf is one of two pitchers (with Morton) that I'm going to be paying the most attention to early this year and that's what I'm looking for tonight.
Monday was fun, but its just one game. If the players are going to really defy expectations and make this year "different," in a lot of ways that starts tonight.
Check after the jump for today's Clemente or Cangelosi update with the first official leaderboard. Make sure to get your picks in before the first pitch at 7:05.
First things first; I'm going to make two rule tweaks. One is that pitchers and hitters aren't going to be separate, like I originally said. I was the only person who picked Zach Duke (as a Cangelosi) and the only person affected by it. I'll take my -1 like a champ and move on. The second is that for a player to qualify as a Clemente, he has to have a positive WPA and for a player to qualify as a Cangelosi, he has to have a negative WPA. If Kershaw throws a perfect game tonight, I'm not awarding points for Andy LaRoche having the most appropriately timed flyout.
If you didn't participate in the Opener, you can fee free to jump aboard today. The full rules (save the changes above) can be found here until I type them into their own post, but the basic idea is simple; just go to the comments and pick the player you think will do the most to help the Pirates win tonight (Clemente) and the player you think will do the least (Cangelosi).
You can find the WPA results from the Opener here. The Clementes were Garrett Jones and Ryan Church. Unsurprisingly, no one had Church on their list. Surprisingly, only PatrickHealy had Jones. The Cangelosis were Ronny Cedeno and Aki Iwamura. Cedeno was a popular pick; brian2, Wizard of Woz, UtesFan89, TomKaikis, and bwzimmerman all had Ronny for Cangelosi, though BWZ's pick came after the first pitch. Woodward, meanwhile, had Iwamura. The only person to pick a reverse was me, who had Duke as the least valuable pitcher when he was the most valuable (though remember that under today's revised scoring, Duke would've been third behind Jones and Church). That means our standings today look like this:
- PatrickHealy, brian2, Wizard of Woz, UtesFan89, TomKaikis - 2
- Woodward - 1
- WHYGAVS (me) - (-1)