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Closing Time: Daisuke Matsuzaka, circle of trust?

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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For three months Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) did all he could to sabotage fantasy teams from coast to coast. Now he's back in Boston and coming off a snappy start – are you ready to trust again?

My expectations for Dice-K on Tuesday night were so tempered, I didn't even bother to mention him in our nightly streaming section. When you basically throw underhand for three months it leaves a mark – especially on the ERA and WHIP. The Angels in particular looked like a bad matchup; a productive offense full of patient hitters who would wait Matsuzaka out. And the extensive rehab assignment the Red Sox put Matsuzaka on didn't inspire any extra confidence.

Alas, the game they played didn't come close to what I expected. Dice-K took a no-hitter into the fifth and wound up shutting out the Angels over six crisp innings (3 H, 3 BB, 5 K). He still wasn't quite as aggressive as we'd like to see – a modest 52 of 93 pitches were strikes – but it's hard to quibble with that bottom line. His velocity was good, consistently in the low-90s on the heater.

Terry Francona was impressed and will pitch Matsuzaka on the weekend in Baltimore, but do fantasy owners want to follow suit? Perhaps you can sway me in the comments, but I'm not over the three months of wreckage we saw before the DL stint. And even when Matsuzaka is fully healthy, we've all seen the trouble he can get into when he nibbles too much and doesn't trust his stuff. You won't have to beat me to the punch on this possible addition; I'm not reconsidering Dice-K until the winter.

Does anyone understand why the White Sox, essentially out of the playoff hunt, want to use Jake Peavy(notes) against Kansas City this weekend? The ace right-hander has a few years left on his hefty contract, why take a chance? Fantasy owners can't really get excited about the news either, as Peavy will no doubt be on a limited pitch count when he finally toes the rubber Saturday. If you want to get all excited about a start that could easily be five innings or less, be my guest.

I'm not really a Dodgers fan per se but there's little I enjoy more than a walkoff victory in Los Angeles. Vin Scully gently spins his timeless magic, "I Love LA" shoots over the stadium PA, the beautiful people smile, hug and rattle their jewelry. Andre Ethier(notes) has been Mr. Clutch for the Dodgers this year; his game-winning homer in the 13th Tuesday was his sixth walkoff hit of the season. Does a third-round slot sound right on Ethier for mixed leaguers next year? I'm a little surprised Ethier has struggled so much against lefties this time around (.193/.280/.338); he didn't have that problem earlier in his career. But this is still someone I'm prepared to go the extra buck on.

The struggling Kevin Millwood(notes) is going to have his next turn skipped, a logical move as he's been throwing batting practice all throughout the second half. It will be interesting to see if Millwood pitches again for the Rangers this season; Texas is on the hook for a $12 million option if he pitches 4.1 additional innings in 2009.

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Maybe you're a little gun shy about picking up Giants but there are some great plays here if you just open your mind up a little. Barry Zito(notes) shut down the Rockies on Tuesday (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K) and has been fantastic for the balance of the second half. Sometimes a short memory is your best friend in this numbers racket (here's some video to further the story along). And despite Juan Uribe's(notes) crazy run of late (he had two more hits and three more RBIs Tuesday), he's still available in scores of mixed leagues. I understand most of the crowd switched over to NFL mode a week or two ago, but doesn't anyone want to win their league?

Speed Round: Andy Pettitte(notes) has a sore shoulder and won't go as scheduled Wednesday. … Chipper Jones(notes) (groin) will miss a few more games and it won't be a surprise if he's down for the week. … Whatever Rajai Davis(notes) is having for breakfast these days, give me a bowl of it too. He's at .338 in the second half, with 34 runs, 31 RBIs and 25 steals. … The Rangers got Michael Young(notes) (hamstring) back at DH Tuesday, but he left the game after tweaking the injury in his lone at-bat. "I didn't want to make it worse," Young said. "I've been making too much progress." … Brett Tomko(notes) looked dominant in his last start (a shutout in Texas) but all is not well; he's got a sore elbow and won't go later this week. … Victor Martinez(notes) left the Red Sox for a family matter and probably won't be back Wednesday. The Red Sox are also without Kevin Youkilis(notes) (back spasms, day-to-day). … Francisco Rodriguez(notes) missed Tuesday's game while his wife was delivering twins; he'll likely be back on Wednesday. … Jarrod Washburn(notes) threw one messy inning against the Royals (four runs) then headed to the bench; the knee just isn't right. … Not a ton of streamables for Thursday but let's try Wade Davis(notes) (at Baltimore) and maybe Brandon Morrow(notes) (at home against Chicago). And if Johnny Cueto(notes) was dropped in your group, he's not a bad play against the Marlins, no matter that the assignment comes in Cincinnati's homer-friendly yard.

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