It's probably more important to look forward than look back at this time of the year, so let's have a peek at Wednesday's schedule before we examine what happened Tuesday.
Here's how I rank the stream candidates that are pitching Wednesday (availability will depend on your league specs, it's impossible to have one universal guide that fits everyone):
- Gil Meche, vs. Seattle: Don't overreact to last start, he's had a nice second half (3.17, 1.18, better than a strikeout per inning).
- Aaron Harang, vs. St. Louis: Cut him some slack, five good turns in a row.
- Jair Jurrjens, vs. Philadelphia: He's done well in this matchup, and it's J.A. Happ on the other side.
- Phil Hughes, vs. Chicago: A trick-or-treat call, but the other side isn't daunting (Clayton Richard).
- David Purcey, vs. Baltimore: Useful in five of seven turns, and a good source of strikeouts.
- Tim Wakefield, at Tampa Bay: He's 19-4 against the Rays for this career, though 0-1 this year (2.77 ERA, 1.46 WHIP).
- Dustin Nippert, vs. Detroit: Arlington looms but I like his last three turns.
- Jason Marquis, vs. Milwaukee: A journeyman, but good lately and Brewers a mess right now.
- Scott Baker, at Cleveland: I'd like him more if he weren't up against Cliff Lee
- Jonathan Sanchez, at Arizona: He's rallied of late, but the Snakes have hit him and he's facing Brandon Webb.
- Shairon Martis, vs. New York: Unlikely to go deep and this could be a shoe-drop start.
- Greg Smith, vs. Los Angeles: Too many crooked numbers of late to trust him.
If you're looking for Thursday streamers, check out the comment section. And here are some other Wednesday nuggets to consider:
• Livan Hernandez, the gift that keeps on giving, is back - he'll start for the Rockies Wednesday in place of Jeff Francis (shut down for the year). Start working the waiver wire for Padres, right now - they're the offensive stream of the day, up against The Human Batting Tee in Coors Field. Brian Giles looks like a good option (assuming he doesn't get a day off), and Chase Headley always gets love in this space (he's already got a spot on the 2009 sleeper list; he's made strides that don't fully show up in the stat line yet).
• Most of this slate kicks off inside a one-hour window, around 7-8 p.m. eastern time. With that in mind, it's worthwhile to hop online about 6:50 or so and see who's in the lineup and who isn't - one extra starting bat could be the difference between a Yoo-Hoo shower and a winter of regret.
• It's a mistake to assume that playoff-battling teams will perform better at this time of the year, but they're definitely more likely to roll out their best lineup. If you have to guess on who's in and who's out for Wednesday, look to the contending clubs first.
Now on to some Tuesday nuggets, good for dipping:
• Dan Haren's late-season slide came to a halt Tuesday, as he rolled over the Giants with a four-hit shutout (two walks, 12 strikeouts). Bob Melvin let Haren finish the job at 117 pitches, so Chad Qualls will be fresh for anther day. Matt Cain also got off the skids in this one, albeit in a losing cause, allowing just two runs over seven innings, and striking out seven.
• Who are you, Sean Gallagher? He had that dead-arm mess against Minnesota two starts ago, then those four crazy innings against Detroit last week, now an absolute gem against Los Angeles Tuesday (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K). He'll be on the REM-sleeper monitor list next spring, but I'm not sure I have the nerve to use him again this season.
• Jayson Werth has become one of the fun plays over the final quarter of the season, and the story continued at Atlanta Tuesday (three hits, homer). Power, speed, and a discerning eye at the plate, there's a lot to like here.
• Dexter Fowler got into the Colorado lineup Tuesday and stroked a couple of hits; sorry about that, Willy Taveras owners. Until we get a specific plan of attack spelled out by Clint Hurdle, assume that both outfielders will see time over the final 12 days of the year - and look for some safer at-bats.
• Injury lap: Shaun Marcum hit the showers early on Tuesday, battling numbness in his forearm. The Jays are out of the race now, so this could be shutdown city . . . Paul Konerko (knee) got back in the mix and had a couple of hits . . . Kaz Matsui (back) was able to pinch hit Tuesday but it's not clear when he might start in a game . . . I'm always wrong when I make Troy Glaus predictions, so I'll just mention that he returned to action Tuesday and hit his 24th homer. He's been dealing with a sore shoulder of late . . . J.D. Drew (herniated disk) was in Tampa Bay Tuesday but the Red Sox didn't put him into the lineup . . . Mike Lowell (hip) came out in the ninth inning for a pinch runner . . . Erik Bedard has a date with Dr. Lewis Yocum next week (exploratory surgery), so the 2008 nightmare is finally over . . . Hideki Matsui wants to play in the Yankee Stadium closer Sunday, and then have surgery on his left knee. I wouldn't expect much from him for the balance of the week . . . Fernando Tatis (shoulder) is officially done for the year.
•John Lackey was choppy working on nine days of rest, and that's three poor turns in a row. We might forget about it next spring, but I'm not confident he'll be in top form in October.
• Speed Round: Jason Bay's wife is expecting a baby this week, so he's left the Red Sox for the time being. Look for him to return Friday . . . The Prince Fielder power outage is definitely over, as he clubbed two more homers Tuesday at Wrigley (alas, in a losing effort) . . . Roy Oswalt's scoreless streak and winning streak came to an end, but 10 strikeouts at least cushion the blow . . . Finally a rough patch for Francisco Liriano (8 R, 4 ER), but I'll use him with confidence the rest of the way . . Another blown save for Mike Gonzalez, that's two in a week after not failing over a four-year stretch . . . Asdrubal Cabrera might be worth it as a Mr. Relevant last-round grab next season. His sizzling September continued Tuesday, with a homer and a single . . . Robinson Cano was let out of Joe Girardi's doghouse but the hits are still hard to come by. He went 0-for-4 . . . Chris Iannetta's 2009 cover is all but blown now. He hit homer No. 17 Tuesday night, a grand slam, and now has 60 RBIs despite his moderate playing time (302 at-bats) . . . Chris Snyder is another backstop having a sneaky season that's under the radar. Two more hits Tuesday, including a homer . . . A rare loss for CC Sabathia (outdueled by Ryan Dempster), and it's probably safe to start the Tim Lincecum engraving now . . . I feel your pain if you had Brandon Morrow dialed up in Kansas City, I did too . . . I can't figure out the Chris Waters matrix and I'm not even going to try. If you feel up to it, be my guest.
• A light night for handshakes, just four: Joel Hanrahan (now 9-of-12 since getting the gig); Brad Lidge (37, still perfect); Kerry Wood (31, and a carnival ride); Joakim Soria (39). Get some rest, the Livan Cage Match drops in about 12 hours.