Closing Time: We're not here to talk about the past

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If you're looking for discussion of Tuesday's games, please look elsewhere. Try the MLB page. It's excellent.

Here, on the ninth day of Week 25, we're looking ahead. There's not much time left for you to win this thing. You'll be able to relax after five more days of tense micro-management, but don't drift off just yet.

We begin this entirely forward-looking Closing Time with three basic end-of-season reminders:

Stats will count for every player active in your lineup on the day you reach a games or innings maximum. For some roto owners, it will make sense to load up on probable starters for the day you reach the IP max.

In the head-to-head playoffs, a 6-4 squeaker is fine, as long as you win. It's just as good as a 9-1 drubbing. If you find yourself in position to guarantee a win over the weekend, go to the "--empty--" formation. Risk nothing.

The first Yahoo! tiebreaker is ERA. Many of us discovered this fact in painful ways, long ago. And there's a funny thing about ERA: it has a lower limit, but not an upper limit. Your ERA can get hopelessly ugly if you're reckless. Or alternately, if you can lull an opponent into a stream war, you can potentially do a lot of damage to their ratios, and erase whatever edge Zack Greinke just gave them tonight.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Thursday's stream-worthy pitchers. These guys won't get another regular season start, so you can dispose of them after using them responsibly.

Scott Pianowski actually ranks every probable pitcher when he closes, because he's a rankings fetishist thorough analyst who looks out for everyone. I'm going to assume that CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt, Scott Kazmir, Rich Harden, Jon Lester, and Roy Halladay are either owned in your league, or you'd know what to do if you saw one of them in the free agent pool.

These are my favorites from the rest of the scraps:

  1. Gavin Floyd at Minnesota. September hasn't been great, but he's mystified the Twins this year (3-1, 18 Ks, 1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP).
  2. Johnny Cueto at Houston. He's struck out at least six hitters in 14 starts this season, and Ks are what you're chasing. Also, he beat Sabathia in his last start, so Oswalt is nothing to him.
  3. Kevin Slowey vs. Chicago. His last outing was rough (4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER), but prior to that he'd been very good for eight consecutive starts.
  4. Jorge De La Rosa at San Francisco. It's a friendly match-up, De La Rosa is having a great second-half (3.41 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), and he just shut these guys down.
  5. Anibal Sanchez at Washington. He has 15 Ks in his last two starts, one of which was a victory over the Nats.
  6. Greg Maddux vs. San Diego. Against the Padres (last in MLB in runs and team OBP), I'd start many lesser pitchers.
  7. Doug Davis at St. Louis. Davis hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start since August 8.
  8. Armando Galarraga vs. Tampa. His last effort was useful, despite the no-decision.
  9. Joel Pineiro vs. Arizona. No, you can't really trust him. But you can trust the Diamondbacks to strike out. They're second in MLB in Ks.
  10. Pedro Martinez vs. Chicago. There haven't been many truly useful fantasy efforts from Pedro, and he understands if you overlook him. Like he says, "In a short series you've gotta go with the hot hand."
  11. Collin Balester vs. Florida. The Marlins lead MLB in team strikeouts, which brings the 22-year-old right-hander into play for streamers.
  12. Jeremy Sowers at Boston. You'd just be hoping for a post-clinch letdown from the Red Sox here. We're well into high-risk/low-reward territory now.
  13. Barry Zito vs. Colorado. It could work out. Or he could give up eight earned runs.
  14. Dustin Moseley at Seattle. It's the match-up, not the pitcher.
  15. Carl Pavano vs. Toronto. OK, c'mon. That's it. We're done ranking. I don't care that Pavano is 4-1. Pfft. He only has nine total Ks in his last five starts.

If you really want to start Zach Duke, Jeff Suppan or Carlos Silva, you'll do it without guidance from me. You're a rogue owner, off the map.

Good luck to all of us this week. But slightly less luck to the owners of Afternoon Delight, Orthodox Cavemen, Twoffer, and GTO's, for reasons that should be clear to them.

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