Matchup of the century it is not. What happens at the start of a season, when one team has played more games than the other, is you get the busier team’s ace coming back for round 2 in the rotation, while the team with the more restful schedule sends a replacement player to go up against him. I mean replacement player literally, as in the replacement for John Danks and his slow to heal shoulder, but Dylan Axelrod has amassed .5 fWAR in his 18 career appearances. Felix Hernandez? He’s got .3…this season.
Playing behind Dylan Axelrod isn’t all bad. He’s fully capable of shining, like the game in Baltimore last season against the playoff bound Orioles in which he went 7.1 innings allowing just 1 run. Or two months before that where he stood strong at Yankee stadium for 7 innings, letting in only 2 runs. The real scar on his 2012 record is the 7 runs he gave up over 3 innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a start that a lot of fans fixate on, but it’s also a start he made on 3 days’ rest, a fact often overlooked when moaning about the performance. Dylan Axelrod is not a great pitcher, and he probably shouldn’t be in a major league rotation. He’s a guy that can make some starts, and a guy that can occasionally look decent enough while doing it.
King Felix may be one of the top pitchers in the league, though it’s important to note that he’s not infallible. He can give up runs, he can lose games. He’s got 76 losses to go with those 99 wins. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t always take a lot of runs to best the offense that he’s supporting. He faced the White Sox just once last year and he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings during a loss in which he served up 3 homeruns. The odds aren’t with the White Sox, but there’s no reason to think David can’t best Goliath in this one.
1. De Aza – LF
2. Wise – CF
3. Rios – RF
4. Dunn – DH
5. Keppinger – 1B
6. Gillaspie – 3B
7. Alexei – SS
8. Hector Gimenez – C
9. Beckham – 2B
Of course, it’s a touch more difficult to go up against Felix Hernandez when the lineup is speckled with backup players. Paul Konerko is given a day to reflect on his .125 start with Jeff Keppinger getting the start at first. Kepp played 21 games at first in 2012, a season that saw him play just as many games at second in addition to a few DH appearances to go with his usual spot at 3B. He’s so accommodating! Conor Gillaspie will have a chance to diversify his 2013 resume beyond designated baserunner, taking Keppinger’s spot at 3rd for the day. 30 year old career minor leaguer Hector Gimenez will spell Tyler Flowers in a day after a night game. Don’t be looking too deeply into Flowers’ 3 strikeouts last night, even if one of them came at the worst possible moment. Mr. DeWayne Wise will also be getting his first start of the season giving Dayan Viciedo a rest against one of the toughest righties out there.
The Seattle Mariners will also make some lineup changes, as is wont to happen with early start times. Raul Ibanez will bring his 40 years of life experience to LF giving Jason Bay time to walk to the mailbox and get his paycheck from the Mets. Former top hitting prospect Justin Smoak is back in the mix, and Kelly Shoppach will be calling the game from behind the plate.
Where to Watch
Game available on Comcast Sportsnet+ for the Chicago area and Seattle area viewers can tune in on ROOT Sports. 12:10 Central start time.