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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Picking on the Pirates

Scott Pianowski
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There's no reason to feel sorry for Pittsburgh these days, amigos. The Steel City has the reigning champs on the ice and on the gridiron. There's a gem of a ballpark downtown. But when it comes to the fantasy stretch run, we'll keep picking on the Bucs whenever possible.

Bronson Arroyo(notes) was the latest pitcher to have his way with Pittsburgh's rag-tag lineup on Thursday, holding the Pirates to one run over seven innings. It's not a shock to see Arroyo spin a beauty – he's got a 2.34 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over the second half – but these days just about everyone is throwing bagels at these guys.

The Bucs are in a 5-25 skid after Thursday's loss and they've got the worst offense in the majors over the second half (218 runs over 62 games). Let's keep exploiting this matchup wherever we can. Jon Garland(notes) on Friday, by all means. Randy Wolf(notes) for Saturday, sign me up. Clayton Kershaw(notes) on Sunday, okay, that's a no-brainer. Hiroki Kuroda(notes) goes Monday, point-and-click.

The Astros, Giants, Mets, Reds and Padres come in after Pittsburgh as we look at the second-half run-scoring numbers, while the Mariners, Tigers and Indians have been the weakest units in the AL. It's all about the matchups at this time of year. Go where the outs are.

If you want to drink for free all weekend, go to your local sports bar and pose this question: What MLB club has scored the most runs in September? (Kindly leave a tip, then get a safe ride home after you're plastered.)

Oakland's at the front of the line and no one's even close; the A's have 141 runs this month (including 12 on Thursday), followed by the Red Sox (130) and Yankees (123). And because we're in the silly season for fantasy, you can still get in on a lot of these Bay Area Bashers.

Rajai Davis(notes)? Okay, that ship has sailed. But why not make a short-term rental on Adam Kennedy(notes) (.375 this month, 15 runs), Ryan Sweeney(notes) (.356, 16 runs, 16 RBIs) or Cliff Pennington(notes) (.325, 14 runs, 12 RBIs). These guys are out there for the taking.

The Rockies used Franklin Morales(notes) in middle relief during Thursday's loss to the Padres, which makes it pretty clear Huston Street(notes) is going to get back to the ninth inning this weekend. Go ahead and cut Morales. Colorado also used Carlos Gonzalez(notes) as a pinch-hitter (strikeout) but he's not ready to play the field because of his balky hamstring; he might not be able to help us until next week.

Luke Gregerson(notes) picked up a working-class save for the Friars but I wouldn't read too much into that; Heath Bell(notes) has been used like crazy this month and probably needed a rest.

Speed Round: David Aardsma(notes) closed Seattle's win at Tampa and appears to be over his sore back. … Ted Lilly(notes) will make one more start, Wednesday, then shut it down for the year. … The Rich Harden(notes) book has finally been closed; the team left it up to him for the final week and he said "check please." … Clay Buchholz(notes) toyed with the Royals and has allowed just six earned runs over his last six turns. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. … Justin Verlander(notes) and Felix Hernandez(notes) both got it done Thursday, just to keep that Cy Young race interesting. … The Giants plan to give Buster Posey(notes) some playing time after they're removed from the wild card race. Their playoff chances took a hit Thursday when Brian Wilson(notes) handed away Brad Penny's(notes) win. … Derrek Lee's(notes) first steal of the year came at a price – a twisted neck. He's day-to-day. … Saturday streamers to consider: Randy Wolf as discussed above, Tom Gorzelanny(notes) and Barry Zito(notes) at San Francisco, Pedro Martinez(notes) at Milwaukee and Sean West(notes) against the Mets. David Purcey(notes) isn't a bad reach play against Seattle, but I'm going to skip Wade LeBlanc(notes) given that he's at Arizona and up against Dan Haren(notes).

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