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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

For starters, relax; it's only one game

The opening day of the baseball season brings with it a special feeling. It's a sign of spring, a reminder that sunshine will be here soon enough (except here), and it's so soon in the season the Washington Nationals have a chance and we've yet to be annoyed by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

It's also the beginning of a less-than-cheery ritual -- fantasy owners panicking because of one bad day by their ace. Or, in the case of Monday, one very bad day by seven aces (OK, six if you deduct Justin Verlander).

Verlander, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Brandon Webb, Francisco Liriano and Jake Peavy combined to go 0-6 with an 8.76 ERA on Monday. The only one to get a no-decision was Webb, who allowed six runs on six hits, lasted only four innings and complained of shoulder stiffness after the game. Other than that, it was a great day.

The seven pitchers threw only 38 innings, with just Oswalt, Liriano and Peavy lasting more than five innings. The only ones who were halfway decent were Oswalt (three runs in seven innings), Liriano (four runs on four hits in seven) and Peavy (four runs on seven hits in seven). Lee, Sabathia, Webb and Verlander allowed a combined 27 runs in 17 innings.

Before you contemplate trading one of the seven, consider the following:

-- Last season, Liriano was 0-3 with an 11.32 ERA in April, was banished to the minor leagues until August, then finished the season by winning six of seven decisions and compiling a 2.74 ERA in his last 11 starts.

-- Sabathia was 1-4 with a 7.76 ERA with the Tribe in April 2008, then won 16 of his last 22 decisions. After the All-Star break, the big lefty was 9-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 15 starts.

-- Oswalt was a combined 4-4 with a 5.48 ERA in April and May last season, then went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA in the next four months.

Again, it's one game. The only one you should worry about at this point is Verlander, who was awful last season (11-17, 4.84 ERA).

The 2006 and 2007 fantasy standout (a combined 35-15 record) struck out 20 fewer batters last season than he did the year before, despite pitching only two fewer outs. He had only one month with more than two wins in 2008.

Still, he's 26 and you won't be able to get much for him if you were to try and make a deal.

All you can do is -- begin Eric Wedge impersonation -- stay the course. And watch the snow fall.

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