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Closing Time: Another Arizona giveaway, capped by Chase Headley

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Smart owners were grabbing Juan Gutierrez(notes) in mixed leagues Thursday night – and those same smart owners are probably dropping him now. The balls roll funny for everybody, kid.

We knew Arizona would give Chad Qualls(notes) the night off Friday at San Diego – he's been busy and ineffective – and with that, Gutierrez, the No. 2 man, got the call when the Diamondbacks had a one-run lead in the ninth. Gutierrez quickly got in a jam by walking the leadoff batter, with a sacrifice and strikeout to follow.

One more out and Gutierrez is the hero, but not on this night. David Eckstein(notes) rapped a double over Gerardo Parra's(notes) head, squaring the game, and two batters later Chase Headley(notes) hit a titanic home run to right field that probably hasn't landed yet (at minimum, that ball's speaking Spanish). Left-handed batters have been the problem with Gutierrez over his brief career (.269 BAA, 1.56 WHIP), and the pitch to Headley had "hit me" written all over it (adjust your set if you can't make out the lettering).

Gutierrez wasn't the only bullpen goat in this loss – Bob Howry(notes) allowed a run in the seventh and Aaron Heilman(notes) was a mess in the eighth, though just one run came out of it. Edwin Jackson(notes) (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K) deserved a better fate. And anyone who owns Qualls has to be pleased with the results here; sometimes the safest place to be is on the bench.

It's interesting to see Headley be the hero at Petco Park, given that it's been his personal house of horrors in his brief career. He's got a .308/.373/.441 career line away from San Diego, but it was just .221/.305/.362 at home entering Friday night. That established, there's still a very plausible post-hype sleeper case to be made for Headley: he was a highly touted prospect back in 2008, he's still young (turns 26 next month), and he qualifies at a couple of positions (third base, outfield). His ownership level is still below the 50 percent line, but after Friday's heroics this might be your last chance to get him.

I thought Charlie Manuel was crazy to let Roy Halladay(notes) pitch eight innings in a game that was lopsided (until the ninth) and played in a constant downpour. Risking your most valuable pitching asset in this type of game seems very short-sighted to me. That said, Halladay had that "take me out and I'll crush you" look on his face all evening.

The Mariners had a rare offensive breakout as Jeremy Bonderman(notes) reminded everyone, emphatically, why he's one of the worst returns in fantasy baseball (4 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). Franklin Gutierrez(notes) is an odd fit for the No. 3 slot, especially when the opposition is throwing a right-handed starter, but he continues to rake (three hits, three RBIs) and is up to .409 for the year. It's just a shame you don't get any fantasy benefit from his sublime defense in center field.

Felipe Paulino(notes) had a good thing going for six innings at Wrigley but he completely collapsed in the seventh and his line got all mucked up (five runs). The Astros are doing the right thing trying to make a starter out of Paulino, but eventually they might have to accept that his skill set makes more sense in the bullpen, and perhaps in the ninth inning. Carlos Silva(notes) baffled the Astros hitters on the other side (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K), more proof to the theory that any starter against Houston is a good play. Tom Gorzelanny(notes) tests the theory out Saturday and Chris Volstad(notes) might be worth a streaming play Tuesday.

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Ryan Franklin(notes) didn't have much going in his appearance against the Mets (3 H, 2 R, several well-struck balls) but he was working with a three-run lead and was able to escape with his fourth save. Franklin would probably be a closer on the brink if the Cardinals had anyone logical to push for the job; Kyle McClellan(notes) has been iffy all year and Jason Motte(notes) is still a work in progress (though he hasn't allowed a run in his last three appearances, a nice rally after a rocky start). Dennys Reyes(notes) and Trever Miller(notes) are respectable vets but they have to work against the left-handed closing bias. Miller and McClellan were both throwing in the pen while Franklin made his mess Friday; one more baserunner and Tony La Russa surely would have come out of the dugout.

You get the idea the Cardinals will try to ham-and-egg it with Franklin as long as they can, knowing they can always trade for a reliever later in the summer if needed. I wound up with Franklin in a few leagues this year because he was such a panned value; if he can cobble together 18-20 saves with his ordinary stuff, it will feel like a profit.

Mitch Talbot(notes) collected 18 ground ball outs in a stunning complete-game win over the White Sox. If you want to bet on this guy in anything past an AL-only league, that's your business. Here's his minor-league resume, if you're curious.

Zach Duke(notes) is another pitcher getting it done with the ground ball (2.37 ERA through three turns), and he deserved a better fate Friday against Cincinnati - the Pirates bullpen squandered his lead away before winning the game in the bottom of the ninth. Duke's five strikeouts over 19 innings significantly hamper his potential worth in 5x5 formats, especially if you're dealing with an innings cap, but he's not a bad streamable name if you're playing in a head-to-head format. He's probably going to get the Brewers in his next two starts.

Speed Round: Andrew Bailey(notes) finally got his hands on a save chance - Oakland's surprising offense has been getting in his way. He hasn't allowed a run yet in 2010. … Ty Wigginton's(notes) a trip in the field but he's still got some usefulness with the bat (three homers on 24 at-bats). … I don't want to live in a world where John Lannan(notes) and Yovani Gallardo(notes) pitch to a draw, so I'm going to skip the Washington-Milwaukee game, other than to note that Josh Willingham(notes) and Casey McGehee(notes) keep going deep, and Matt Capps(notes) somehow has five saves already. … Manny Ramirez(notes) left Friday's game with a tight calf and he was already set to have Saturday off, so make alternate plans. … Lance Berkman(notes) (knee) thinks he might be ready to go Tuesday against Florida. … The Blue Jays have let Randy Ruiz(notes) rot on the bench for most of the year, but he homered in a rare start Friday and this might lead to some sort of extended trial through the weekend. … Dr. Andy Behrens and I got together for a Friends and Family swap Friday - he offered me Gordon Beckham(notes) for Chone Figgins(notes) and I accepted. Feel free to offer your own 5-point breakdown of this deal in the comments. My angle: I needed some pop and I've never been a major fan of Figgins, though his fantasy value is clear for all to see. … Maybe it means nothing, but to this point Zack Greinke 2010 doesn't look anything like the guy we saw last year; he's been respectable, but nothing close to dominant. A pair of unearned runs tripped him up in Minnesota on Friday, and he also struggled with his control.


Want your Closing Time earlier in the night, one nugget at a time? Head over to Twitter: @scott_pianowski

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