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Rundown: Can Stephen Strasburg put you over the top?

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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It's Strasmas in September, gamers. The Washington Monument will return to major-league action Tuesday night against the Dodgers, and barring any setbacks, he'll be on the mound Sunday against Houston. A modest pitch count will probably be in place for both games, but they should be a blast to watch, and I'm expecting a gaggle of strikeouts to come along. Even if you're not a Strasburg owner, these games are must-see TV.

September is the silly season of baseball, with mass roster expansion and a bunch of teams that have little or no incentive. Let's be careful out there, and consider everyone on the lists below to be "probable."

Double-Dips, National League, Sept. 5-11
1. Cliff Lee (Atl, at Mil): Untouchable in August: five wins, 0.45/0.78, 39 Ks
2. Madison Bumgarner (at SD, LA): He's locked in, but will they score for him?
3. Javier Vazquez (NY, at Pit): Just one bad start in last 14 turns
4. Matt Garza (Cin, at NY): Secondary skills are superb, unlucky with up-front stats
5. Tim Hudson (at Phi, at Stl ): Not as much fun on the road: 4.04 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
6. Ted Lilly (at Was, at SF): Back in form and the schedule plays nicely
7. Vance Worley (Atl, at Mil): Suggested Sunday promotion: Beer Goggle Day
8. Hiroki Kuroda (at Was, at SF): Better out of the suitcase (seven wins, 2.54/1.18)
9. Yovani Gallardo (at Stl, Phi): Yo Gabba Gabba has a problem with the gophers
10. Stephen Strasburg (LA, Hou): Should be great right away; how long will he go?
11. Chris Capuano (at Fla, Chi): Trustable against these ordinary opponents
12. James McDonald (Hou, Fla): Second-half team fade isn't his fault (3.54/1.29)
13. Randy Wolf (at Stl, Phi): Good luck with that Bonnie Situation
14. Henry Sosa (at Pit, at Was): Life fastball, legitimate sleeper
15. Josh Collmenter (at Col, SD): Can't use him in Coors, but otherwise okay
16. Derek Lowe (at Phi, at Stl ): Inconsistent season, can't trust him with this slate
17. Tim Stauffer (SF, at Ari): On the restricted list after that seven-walk nightmare
18. Miguel Batista (at Fla, Chi): Might last longer than cockroaches and Keith Richards
19. Wade Miley (at Col, SD): Six-inning guy, needs to improve control
20. Wade LeBlanc (SF, at Ari): Soft-tossing lefty, no interest
21. Dontrelle Willis (at Chi, at Col): Two tricky parks, stay off the train

Double-Dips, American League, Sept. 5-11
1. Dan Haren (Sea, NY): Odd second half: 4.24 ERA despite 1.13 WHIP, 51 K, 8 BB
2. Jon Lester (at Tor, at TB): Hasn't gone last six innings in last three turns
3. James Shields (Tex, Bos): Cheesy beard, sublime change-up
4. Josh Beckett (at Tor, at TB): Only the Orioles have hit him in division, go figure
5. Doug Fister (at Cle, Min): Motown hit: 2.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2 BB, 23 K
6. Ubaldo Jimenez (Det, at Chi): As consistent as a paper cup in a hurricane
7. Freddy Garcia (Bal, at LA): No fatigue showing; ERA has dropped in second half
8. Philip Humber (at Min, Cle): Returns after taking shot in the head
9. Fausto Carmona (Det, at Chi): Stuff moves, but it's hard to command
10. Felipe Paulino (at Oak, at Sea): A 3.83 ERA should equal more than two wins
11. Henderson Alvarez (Bos, Bal): Trust the K/BB rate (21 whiffs, five walks)
12. Rich Harden (KC, at Tex): The range of outcomes is wide open
13. Danny Duffy (at Oak, at Sea): Strikeout source, but command is elusive
14. Zach Stewart (at Min, Cle): Has a future, but he's been hit in last two appearances
15. Luis Perez (Bos, Bal): Stretching out, look for 5-6 inning starts
16. Tommy Hunter (at NY, at Tor): This has crooked numbers written all over it
17. Anthony Swarzak (Chi, at Det): Doesn't miss bats, doesn't move the needle
18. Anthony Vasquez (at LA, KC): Seattle goes to a six-man rotation this week
19. Jo-Jo Reyes (at NY, at Tor): Even the losers get lucky sometimes

Working the Schedule

-- Homeboys: Nationals 7, Blue Jays 7, Angels 6, Rays 6, Cardinals 6, Rockies 6, Pirates 6

-- Awayboys: Braves 8, Red Sox 7, Dodgers 7, Royals 7, Astros 6, Reds 6

-- Mixed Bag: Mets 8, White Sox 8, Phillies 7, Mariners 7, Yankees 7, Twins 7, Indians 7, Athletics 7, Brewers 7, Padres 7, Diamondbacks 7, Orioles 7 (six on road), Cubs 6, Giants 6, Marlins 6, Rangers 6, Tigers 6

Some interesting teams get the home cooking this week. The St. Louis pitchers generally do better at home, Coors Field speaks for itself, and The Trop is generally a pitching-friendly place. And it's probably no surprise the Nationals coordinated Strasburg's return to come with a full week of games at home. Should make for a healthy gate. The White Sox and Twins play a doubleheader on Monday, and the Mets and Braves double-dip on Thursday.

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About Last Night: Dee Gordon is back with the Dodgers and making an impression, collecting five hits and two steals through two games. Let's run with it. Baby Flash is owned in just 3 percent of Yahoo! leagues … And former LA infielder Rafael Furcal has a bounce in his step, too. He's homered in three straight games for the desperate Cardinals. … Rafael Betancourt closed with a strong inning at San Diego (two strikeouts, just nine pitches), marking his ninth-inning territory nicely. Old retread Kevin Millwood got the win (7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K), reminding us that almost anyone can go to San Diego and post decent stats. Don't use Millwood in the thin air of Colorado next week. … Although Charlie Manuel denies that he's using a platoon in left field, John Mayberry got the call Friday and homered against a southpaw. Meanwhile, Raul Ibanez sat on the bench. … I can't give you a strong case to recommend Luke Hughes, but he does have four homers this week (on all of five hits) and he qualifies at three infield positions. Just know any deep analysis on his profile is going to reveal red ink. … It's a shame the Reds don't have a dedicated spot for Yonder Alonso, because this guy can rake. He went 2-for-4 with his fourth homer in Friday's win, and he's hitting .386 for his brief trial (44 at-bats). … The Derek Holland matrix cannot be explained. He cruised against the Red Sox, allowing just two hits over seven scoreless innings. Now watch him roll out the crooked numbers at Tampa Bay next week. … Francisco Liriano (shoulder) has an appointment scheduled with Dr. Lewis Yocum, and it's doubtful the Minnesota lefty will pitch again this season. … Cameron Maybin (wrist) missed his fifth straight game and I'd be surprised if he did much down the stretch. … Brad Hand is back with the Marlins, ready to take the fifth spot in the rotation and get everyone up to speed on the Platt Amendment. Aloha.


Images courtesy Associated Press

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