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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Willie Harris is here to help

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Willie Harris(notes) has been an offensive sinkhole in limited second-half action but I'm willing to let that pass as we consider the final five weeks of the year. He's essentially going to be a regular now that Nyjer Morgan(notes) (broken hand) is out for the year, and I have fond memories of the run Harris went on at the end of 2008 (.270, eight homers, seven steals over his last 61 games). Those aren't pinball numbers, perhaps, but there's a use for them in deeper mixed groups, especially when you consider that Harris qualifies all over the diamond (second, third, outfield). Throw me a bone here – I'm just asking you to consider him as a possible Swiss Army Knife off the bench.

You might wonder why we keep pushing Nationals on you in this space, but hey, we'll take numbers anywhere we can get them. Washington's offense is a lot better than it's given credit for. The plucky Nats are fourth in the NL in average, second on OBP, fifth in slugging, and sixth in runs scored (the most important number at the end of the day). Their production is just as good as anyone else's. Keep an open mind, gamers.

It was intriguing to see the Cubs put Rich Harden(notes) on waivers and he was quickly claimed by an unknown NL club, but that doesn't mean the enigmatic right hander is headed out of the Second City. Harden projects to be a Type A free agent which means the Cubs are already guaranteed compensation if Harden decides to sign elsewhere after the season. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculates that the claiming team might be the Giants, Rockies or Dodgers. (If you want to discuss Aaron Heilman(notes) hitting waivers, please form your own groups and act accordingly.)

Here's a look at some streamable options to consider from Saturday's card, in no particular order: Charlie Haeger(notes) at Cincinnati (bumped up a day, up against Matt Maloney(notes)); Clay Buchholz(notes) against Toronto (three strong turns before the last setback, plus he's tamed Toronto twice already); Barry Zito(notes) against Arizona (his second-half numbers jump off the page, only it's in the good way); David Price(notes) at Detroit (he's been a mess on the road but you have to figure the Rays can get to Nate Robertson(notes)).

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Any respectable fantasy owner knows not to chase after a career year that shows up at age 36, but nonetheless the Cardinals appear to be making a smart move working on a Ryan Franklin extension that would keep the righty in St. Louis for two more years at $6.5 million. Franklin has been one of the best closers in the game this year (1.07 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 34-for-36 on saves) and while no one expects him to come close to that line next year, he's earned the right to be at the head of the bullpen pecking order when spring training opens. A snappy cutter (in place of a mediocre slider) has gone a long way for Franklin this year and we should also mention that his beard is fantastic. Here's a tip of the cap to the Franklin Mint.

Anibal Sanchez(notes) had the setup you want Thursday night – a Florida turn against the scrubby Mets lineup – but it didn't help him one bit. Sanchez earned some roto cred with his return against Atlanta last week but he couldn't do a thing against the Mets, getting lit up for 11 baserunners and four runs (two earned) over 3.2 spotty innings. The Mets continued to rake against the Florida bullpen en route to a rare 17-hit uprising; every New York starter had at least two knocks. Sanchez gets Atlanta again next week but I don't know how you can start him after this step backwards.

Injury Blog: Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) (ankle) left early on Thursday due to a mild left ankle sprain. Terry Francona is "hopeful" Ellsbury will be able to play Friday. … Jake Peavy(notes) (elbow) is healthy enough to make a Triple-A turn on Saturday; the aim is for him to get around the 100 pitch mark. If all goes well, Peavy will probably be in the Chicago rotation next week. … Mark Reynolds(notes) (flu) finally returned to action and clocked his 39th homer of the year. … Adam Jones(notes) didn't have much to say about his back, though Dave Trembley is holding out hope that his center fielder might be able to go Friday. … Jorge Posada(notes) (finger) didn't go Thursday and doesn't look like a good bet to play Friday either. … Ryan Church(notes) was a late scratch because of a sore back. Had he still been on the Mets, he'd be in traction right now. … Tim Hudson(notes) (elbow) returns to the Atlanta rotation Monday against Florida, taking over for Kenshin Kawakami(notes). Hudson's coming back a little ahead of schedule, and it's odd to see Kawakami leave the rotation as he's been solid for most of the summer after a rough opening to the year. … So much for the Carlos Gonzalez(notes) return to action; he suffered a thumb injury trying to make a diving catch Thursday. "I came out of the game because I was not able to hold the bat and squeeze hard," Gonzalez told MLB.com after the game. "Right now, I'm feeling better. The pain is going away. So that's a good sign."

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