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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Brawling in the Bay State

Scott Pianowski
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Everyone seems to get excited when ballgames turn into brawlgames, but in the roto scheme of things, they're not just throwing punches - they're throwing fantasy production away as well.

The Boston-Detroit throwdown at Fenway on Tuesday night made for flashy video but it also left a mark on the fantasy community. Kevin Youkilis's(notes) mad dash to the mound touched off the benches clearing, and it's a virtual certainly that he'll be facing a suspension for his actions. Detroit starter Rick Porcello(notes) got the heave-ho after plunking Youkilis (there's been a parade of HBPs in the two games so far), costing him a start where it looked like he had his good stuff. Miguel Cabrera(notes) had a short night as well, taking a pitch off the hand and heading for an early shower and X-ray. The pictures came back negative, a huge relief for Detroit; Cabrera is listed as day-to-day.

The raised tempers screened another good story from this game, the solid starting debut from Boston righty Junichi Tazawa(notes). The Tigers put up three runs on the crafty right-hander in the first inning but Tazawa settled into a nice groove after that; he wound up with a victory and an encouraging line (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). His fastball doesn't knock your socks off but he located it well, and the Tigers took plenty of awkward swings at Tazawa's excellent curve. He might not have a starting role very long with Tim Wakefield(notes) just about ready to return, but this is a name worth remembering for AL-only play and deeper mixed groups.

The Marlins keep winning ballgames despite their spotty bullpen work at the end of games; Matt Lindstrom(notes) had a messy ninth-inning stint Monday and on Tuesday night it was Leo Nunez's(notes) turn (3 H, 1 R, ERA now up to 4.01). Nunez has been scored on in six of his last 11 appearances and it's not hard to see why the Fish took a run at Heath Bell(notes) last month. Perhaps Dan Meyer(notes) and Kiko Calero(notes) could sneak into the mix if Nunez and Lindstrom continue to struggle, and there's always the possibility of a waiver deal. My gut feeling on this is that there's still more movement to come in this fluid bullpen situation.

Coghlan's Law: Florida's left fielder raps out two or more hits every night. Chris Coghlan(notes) missed for the first time in nine games Monday, but he was back on it in Tuesday's extended-play win (5-2-2-0, plus a walk). This torrid pace won't keep up of course, but Coghlan's making most of his own luck through his keen batting eye and compact stroke (21.9 line-drive rate); he's legit. This lineup sure looks a lot better now that Emilio Bonifacio(notes) doesn't have to play regularly.

Aaron Laffey(notes) has been useful in four of his last five turns, but pitching to contact is a tough way to make a go of it in the American League. His 3.25 ERA comes from a friendly HR/FB rate more than anything else; this is still just a spot-starter for my money. Sunday at Minnesota, do you feel lucky?

Andruw Jones(notes) went 0-for-3 with two whiffs, pushing him under .200 in the second half. He's also been woeful against left-handed pitching this year. The power (17 homers) is nice, but it's not everything.

It's scary to think that Tommy Hanson(notes) is still getting his feet wet at the big-league level; he does something eye-popping in every one of his starts. He was in control against the Nats on Tuesday, ringing up nine strikeouts (against no walks) and working into the seventh inning. Sophomore hotshots entering year two on the mound generally aren't the most reliable commodity in fantasy, but it's going to be difficult for us to lay off Hanson at next year's draft table. How early are you willing to jump in?

The David Price(notes) rule couldn't be any simpler - he's money at home (2.72 ERA), counterfeit on the road (8.07). The Angels got six runs (five earned) off Price over six innings, and that was more than enough given how the maddening Ervin Santana(notes) was dealing on the other side (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K). Gregg Zaun(notes), Joe Maddon's primary catcher these days, had two of the three Tampa hits.

Handshakes: Bobby Jenks(notes) (23) wasn't able to locate his off-speed pitches at Seattle but on this night the heater was enough. Jenks consistently dialed it up in the 95-96 range and retired three of the four Mariners he faced . . . Jim Johnson(notes) came out of the pen throwing strike (9-of-13) and is now 2-for-2 in save chances since George Sherrill(notes) left town . . . Mariano Rivera(notes) (33) served up a ninth-inning tater to Edwin Encarnacion(notes) but that wasn't a big deal given that the Yanks held a three-run lead. Rivera has blown just one save chance all year . . . Jonathan Papelbon(notes) struck out the side against Detroit in a non-save spot, but he also surrendered a two-run homer to Yahoo! columnist Curtis Granderson(notes) . . . The Phillies got strong set-up work from Chan Ho Park(notes) and Ryan Madson(notes) before Brad Lidge(notes) blew his seventh save chance of the year. Chad Durbin(notes) wound up benefiting, grabbing a rogue save as the Phils won in 12 innings . . . Francisco Cordero(notes) didn't have his best stuff at St. Louis (2 H, 1 R), but nonetheless he converted for the 25th time in 26 chances.

Injury Blog: Aramis Ramirez(notes) (shoulder) won't be 100 percent for the rest of the season but he's going to try to play through the pain. He thinks he might be able to play Thursday or Friday . . . Ian Kinsler(notes) (hamstring) should start his rehab assignment at Double-A on Wednesday . . . Lance Berkman(notes) (calf) feels like he's ready to go, but the Astros might make him wait until Thursday or Friday . . . Joe Crede(notes) (shoulder) should be able to play Wednesday, if you're desperate for a corner. He's been a high-maintenance player for just about his entire career . . . Orlando Hudson(notes) (groin) is probably going to miss a few more games, but Joe Torre is hoping for a possible Friday return . . . Ted Lilly(notes) (knee) might be back with the Cubs on Monday if all goes well with his minor-league start in Single-A . . . Corey Hart's(notes) Tuesday workout was cut short after just a few minutes; he's still in pain after having his appendix removed . . . Akinori Iwamura(notes) (knee) will head to Triple-A and start a rehab assignment this weekend.

Speed Round: Dinged up or not, Chipper Jones(notes) got on the field and went 2-for-4 with a homer . . . If you want a video on how not to play right field, roll the tape from Brad Hawpe(notes) the last two nights. Mercy . . . I refuse to take Houston seriously as a playoff contender so long as its giving first-base time to Darin Erstad(notes) and his .202 stick . . . Doug Fister(notes) came to Seattle off an ordinary Triple-A campaign (3.81 ERA, .305 BAA), so let's not overreact to his snappy debut against the White Sox (6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K). At least he was able to keep the ball on the ground, getting nine outs that way as opposed to five in the air . . . When Max Scherzer(notes) is around the strike zone, he's awfully difficult to beat. He threw 84-of-118 pitches for strikes against the junior varsity Mets and that led to a tasty line at the end (6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K). He'll get two road turns next week, though the first one is a tricky assignment in Philly (you'll definitely use him in Houston, though) . . . The scrappy Pirates played the waiting game against Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin(notes), getting four runs off the kid courtesy of a hit and six walks. The Bucs turned aggressive on the bases, swiping five bags on the night (three for Andrew McCutchen(notes), one for Garrett Jones(notes), one for Ryan Doumit(notes)). The Rockies couldn't buy a clutch hit with men on base, but they did get solo homers from the sizzling Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and Carlos Gonzalez(notes) . . . Adrian Gonzalez(notes) was the big story in San Diego's win (six hits), but keep an eye on Chase Headley(notes), who's been taking decent swings of late (13-for-36 in August, just four strikeouts) . . . The Royals exploded for 14 runs against Nick Blackburn(notes) and you have to figure they'll do something of note against the returning Francisco Liriano(notes) on Wednesday.

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