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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Goose eggs for Kyle Lohse

The Holiday Weekend allows for a casual close in this space; no major theme, let's start handing out the candy and the fantasy bullets.

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I know most of the roto public doesn't want to take Kyle Lohse seriously, but at some point we have to accept the reality in front of us. Pitching coach Dave Duncan cobbled a strong year out of Lohse last summer (15-6, 3.78, 1.30), and the Cardinals believed in it enough to give the righty a $41 million extension through 2012. Lohse had everything working against Houston on Sunday – a sinking two-seam fastball, curve and change – en route to a three-hit shutout of the Astros, his second victory of the week. The Cardinals had Ryan Franklin ready to go when Lohse got into a mild jam in the ninth, but Tony La Russa stuck with his starter and Lohse was able to finish the job. He'll get a better test at Wrigley next week.

Ryan Dempster was dodging bullets most of the night in Milwaukee (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 K), but he still escaped with a victory, in part because of Reed Johnson's grand-slam saving catch (sorry, Prince Fielder). Carlos Marmol was electric in the eighth (perfect inning, two strikeouts) while Kevin Gregg stumbled through the ninth in a non-save appearance (solo homer, double, walk). Lou Piniella was visibly agitated during Gregg's inning and you have to feel the begoggled closer is on a pretty short leash right now.

Make it two saves in two days for Fernando Rodney, and he hasn't walked anyone over three appearances (his slider was wicked in the Saturday win). I know, I don't believe it either. Brandon Lyon pitched to contact Sunday afternoon and somehow retired six straight Rangers.

I wasn't bullish on Travis Hafner over the winter and I didn't like what I saw in spring training either (.389 slugging, 14 strikeouts), but I'm forced to reopen the argument after his strong opening week (6-for-20, three homers, four walks). I know many of you share my skepticism on Pronk; he lasted 207 picks before I said "the heck with it, I'll take him" in our Arcade Invitational draft Sunday night. Maybe the shoulder is finally back to normal, because he's really driving the ball right now.

It's refreshing when home plate umpires call borderline strikes, as Bob Davidson did in Florida on Sunday. Josh Johnson (CG, 5 H, 1 R, 7 K) and Johan Santana (7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 13 K) took full advantage in a dandy of a pitcher's duel, a game that took just 2:04 to complete. Cody Ross took the collar again to finish a 2-for-22 week; he's really a No. 4 outfielder being pressed into a starting role, but there's no one to push him at the moment.

The AL's best duel of the day came in Northern California, with Brandon Funston's ace Erik Bedard (8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) getting the better of A's rookie Trevor Cahill (7 H, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K). Cahill actually carried a no-hitter into the seventh before the Mariners pushed across the game's only run; Adrian Beltre singled and scored on Mike Sweeney's double. Brandon Morrow needed another day off after Saturday's 27-pitch stint, so David Aardsma got the call for the final two outs. I'd like to see Aardsma get more movement on his fastball or develop a second reliable pitch, but nonetheless he retired two of the three men he faced.

I'm not going to rehash the Brandon Inge piece from earlier this week, but please, give the guy a second look. New stance, less-taxing position, good lineup (even if he's buried in it), catcher eligibility … and a snappy start to 2009 (.304 average, four homers, one bag). No, he's not going to help you in average for the long term, but I'll bet my Sparky Anderson bobblehead he doesn't mangle your average, either. He can hit .250 or greater with decent pop, and that plays as a fantasy catcher.

I know it's just one week but how can we not be worried about Chris Davis a little bit (he of the 1-for-22 start with 10 strikeouts)? Andruw Jones went 3-for-5 in his lone start and will probably get a longer look in Week 2.

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Hard to do much better than Aaron Harang on Sunday, throwing a three-hit shutout with 80 strikes on 108 pitches. He fanned nine Bucs and didn't walk anyone. Alex Gonzalez went 0-for-12 in the opening week but I'd like him to stick in Cincinnati so the pitchers have a fighting chance. He's still outstanding in the field.

I was on an easter egg hunt having brunch while Timmy Lincecum was getting knocked around by the Padres, so I'm calling on you, my internet scouts, to fill in the blanks. Chris Young posted his second consecutive snappy line (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 K), and working at Petco certainly has its perks. There's plenty of pep left in Randy Winn's 34-year old legs (three steals this week)

Marco Scutaro has been around the block a few times, with over 2,100 at-bats and a pedestrian career line (.263/.327/.383). He had a fun week with the Jays (.385, 10 runs, two homers), but let's not get carried away. Remember he was a regular last year and nothing much came of it. But if you can get your hands on Aaron Hill (check his 2007 stats) or Adam Lind, I'll sign off on the move.

Chan Ho Park was knocked around during his Coors Field start, but the Rockies didn't do a thing against the Philadelphia bullpen (5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R) and the visitors rallied for the victory, scoring five times against Manuel Corpas and Huston Street. Jayson Werth (4-0-2-2) hit in the No. 5 slot for the fifth consecutive game as Charlie Manuel has apparently accepted that Raul Ibanez belongs in the sixth position (three lefties in a row just doesn't make sense).

Elijah Dukes went 5-for-11 in the Atlanta series and deserves to be on the field every day. Unfortunately it's Manny Acta's lineup card, not mine, but I wouldn't drop Dukes in any format right now. I don't ask for much but I'd love to see Scott Olsen last at least three months in the Washington rotation. His non-sliding slider didn't fool the Braves Sunday (nine baserunners, five runs over five innings).

Another mediocre effort from Brian Fuentes, who allowed two hits and plunked a batter before he finally put the Red Sox away and recorded his second save. He did strike out a couple of Sox (Rocco Baldelli, J.D. Drew), for what it's worth. Scot Shields was a carnival ride in the eighth, walking the bases loaded before he put the side down.

Not an Injury Blog: Brandon Webb (shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list but the move is retroactive to April 7 and it's doubtful he'll be out long. … Geovany Soto (shoulder) pinch hit late in Sunday's game – when the Cubs were ahead by four runs – so it's doubtful that the team is worried about this injury long term. He's expected to be back behind the plate Wednesday. … Milton Bradley left in the fourth inning with a groin strain. … Mark Teixeira rested his sore wrist Sunday but the Yankees are just being cautious here. … Chris Getz left Sunday's game with a bruised triceps; he went 3-for-17 in the opening week. … Garret Anderson (calf) sat out again but might be ready to return Tuesday. … Tom Glavine made a rehab start at Double-A Sunday but left with a sore shoulder.

Speed Round: Akinori Iwamura wasn't a treat on the bases last year (8-for-14), but he felt frisky in the opening week, swiping three bags without being caught. … Delmon Young clubbed a solo homer in Minnesota's loss at Chicago, his only highlight in a 2-for-15 week. He also struck out twice. Jason Kubel was the designated sitter for the Twins Sunday. … Give me a bowl of whatever Octavio Dotel's having; he worked 3.1 scoreless innings this week and piled up nine strikeouts. … Juan Cruz did the set-up work in front of Joakim Soria Sunday, and I'd like to see that arrangement stick. Kyle Farnsworth, as we all know, can not be trusted. … Dexter Fowler went 2-for-5 with another homer, and you have to wonder if and when Clint Hurdle will accept that this kid deserves a shot at playing every day. … Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth homer and stole his second base, and somewhere Chris Liss is laughing right now. … Dan Haren had another solid start (6 IP, 2 R) wiped out by the slumbering Arizona bats; the Snakes managed just three hits and one run against Randy Wolf and two LA relievers. Jonathan Broxton got plenty of work in the opening week, pitching four times and racking up three saves. … The Rays want Matt Joyce to play every day, so he was demoted to Triple-A after Sunday's game (B.J. Upton is ready to return as well). … Kevin Millwood was outstanding for the second straight turn but I'm not buying this guy yet, not with Arlington looming.

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