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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Matt Thornton marks his territory

Scott Pianowski
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The White Sox bullpen cleaned up nicely at the end of Friday's 2-0 win over Detroit; Octavio Dotel(notes) got the last two outs in the eighth inning and Matt Thornton(notes) fired pellets in the ninth. Give some credit to Ozzie Guillen for doing the right thing with the last two innings; Ozzie realizes that Thornton can get right-handed batters out and the skipper isn't afraid to be a little unconventional with the closer spot.

Jake Peavy(notes) was outstanding over the first seven innings, scattering six hits and striking out eight. The White Sox apparently have no qualms about exposing their high-priced ace to these games down the stretch, so look for Peavy to get a rematch with the Tigers in Detroit next week.

Huston Street(notes) has retired eight consecutive batters over the last three nights and he pitched the ninth on Thursday and Friday so there's no debate in Colorado, he's back in charge of the bullpen. He'll probably need a night off Saturday, but otherwise he's good the rest of the way. And the waiting is over for Carlos Gonzalez(notes) and his hamstring; he started Friday and went 1-for-4. Enjoy the rest of the homestand, folks.

The Philadelphia bullpen, what can we even say at this point? Brad Lidge(notes) has been horrendous of late, Ryan Madson(notes) not much better, and although Charlie Manuel admits he likes Brett Myers in the ninth-inning role, Myers isn't healthy right now (shoulder). Bottom line, this is going to be a messy committee for the next nine days, and it's anyone's guess to what Manuel will try to do in the playoffs. There's no one in this bullpen that I feel comfortable recommending right now.

J.P. Howell(notes) is done for the year in Tampa; he's had a crazy workload over the last two seasons and Joe Maddon doesn't see the point of pushing the lefty through another nine days. "Smart move," Howell concurs. "It's been a long … two years to be honest." A ninth-inning committee looks likely as the Rays play out the string, with Dan Wheeler(notes) against righties and Randy Choate(notes) against lefties.

Max Scherzer(notes) worked five ordinary innings against the Padres (three runs) and now goes on ice for the final week. He'll be an intriguing sleeper next March; not many pitchers post greater than a strikeout per inning and he's capable of trimming that ERA under 4. Does this sound like a $12-14 pitcher to you, or is that too ambitious? Let's toss it around in the comments.

Speed Round: Pedro Martinez(notes) says his neck is on the improve but nonetheless he won't pitch Saturday. … Mark Buehrle(notes) joins the Chicago skip-a-thon; he's been roughed up since that glorious perfect game back in late July. I don't see any reason to hold onto him in a mixer. … Get Denard Span(notes) back into the mix; he rejoined the starting lineup at KC and went 2-for-4 with a walk and a steal. It was a scary moment watching him get beaned in the middle of the week but he's fine now. … Scott Hairston(notes) is still battling a sore hip and back, a shame since his teammates have been plastering foes for most of the month. … The Yankees took advantage of Jason Varitek's(notes) spotty arm Friday, swiping seven bases on seven attempts. Alex Rodriguez(notes) grabbed three of them, in addition to his 28th homer. … Buster Posey(notes) started for San Francisco and went 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts. The Giants are just about cooked in the NL wild-card race, so Posey should see a lot of time in the final week. … Albert Pujols(notes) was hobbling around late in the loss to Colorado but he says it's just a cramp and he's fine. … Josh Hamilton(notes) returned to action and went 0-for-4 with a couple of whiffs. It's hard to say if his back is 100 percent healthy right now.

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