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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, growing up

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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The Red Sox tried very hard to trade Clay Buchholz(notes) in the middle of the summer, but sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. Thanks for being unreasonable, J.P. Ricciardi (did he really say no to a six-player package?).

Buchholz wasn't throwing all that well around the trade deadline but he's settled into a nifty groove since then – seven of his last eight starts have been excellent ones, including Sunday's tidy effort (7 IP, 1 R, 5 K) against Tampa Bay (video here). "He was tremendous," Terry Francona told the Boston Herald. "He threw all four pitches, had a very good changeup, was aggressive with his fastball." The emerging right-hander comes strongly recommended at Baltimore next weekend.

Total up the last five weeks for Buchholz and you get a tasty bottom line: 2.77 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 4 wins. He's been working ahead in the count more often, trusting his stuff, trimming that nasty walk problem; I don't know about you, but I'd have no problem going $15 and up for this kid in AL-only auctions next spring. And for whatever it's worth, Roy Halladay(notes) hasn't been anything special over the same five-week span (3.90 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3 wins), though the depression of sticking with the Blue Jays could probably compromise anyone's performance.

Pedro Martinez(notes) refuses to go gently into that good night – he's been a shot of adrenaline to the Philadelphia rotation over the last six weeks. His most recent gem came Sunday night against his former New York teammates, eight scoreless frames in front of a national audience (national in theory, anyway; most of us were watching the Packers and Bears). Charlie Manuel was so impressed with Pedro, he somehow let the veteran righty sail to 130 pitches on the night. Oh well, anything to keep the Philadelphia bullpen out of the game.

That jab to the side, the Phillies still got their doubleheader sweep on Sunday and in the process Brad Lidge(notes) and Ryan Madson(notes) each recorded a save, not that either man looked that sharp in the process. Lidge was knocked around for three hits and two runs during the opening victory, and Madson got bailed out by a couple of line drives hit right at teammates. We've already gone far past the word count for the Phillies bullpen this week, but you get the idea that this is going to be a never-ending story until the 2009 season is put to bed.

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San Francisco generally isn't the place to look if you're in need of an offensive boost but let's give a tip of the cap to Juan Uribe(notes), who's turned into one of the surprising mixed-league adds of the final quarter. He's whacked eight homers over the last month – including a two-run shot Sunday – and he's carrying a Yahoo glove at three separate positions (2B, SS, 3B). Don't let the roomy home park bother you one bit, he's carrying a .333/367/.583 line at home. If loving Juan Uribe at this moment is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Whisper to a Stream – Tuesday: Let's try Jeff Niemann(notes) at Baltimore (going up against Jason Berken(notes) helps); Robinson Tejada at Detroit (check his recent run); and Charlie Haeger(notes) against Pittsburgh, if he's needed (Randy Wolf(notes) might be ready to return). And I guess it's too late to turn back now on Barry Zito(notes), though he goes up against Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) and the streaking Rockies.

Injury Blog: Tim Lincecum(notes) (back) is confirmed to go Monday in a critical start against Colorado. … Wolf (elbow) passed all tests Sunday and might be able to start Tuesday against the Pirates. … Alfonso Soriano(notes) is headed for knee surgery, as we all suspected, and is done for 2009. … Jake Peavy(notes) had a solid throwing session Sunday and might be able to pitch next weekend for the White Sox, not that the move makes a lot of sense to anyone outside the organization. … Elijah Dukes(notes) (back) returned to action Sunday and had a couple of knocks. … Brian Bannister(notes) (shoulder) won't pitch again this year, though he's going to avoid surgery. … Johnny Damon(notes) is dealing with a sore back and hamstring, and while he played Sunday, don't be surprised if the team periodically rests him the remainder of the regular season. … Chipper Jones(notes) has a sore groin and is once again day-to-day. There's a reasonable chance he could walk away from the game after 2009. … Jarrod Washburn(notes) (knee) might be able to pitch Tuesday against Kansas City, but there's no reason to risk a thing on this struggling lefty. If he does in fact pitch, it's just another reason to make a spec play on Tejada, as discussed above.

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