Before we collect some notes from the Friday sandlot, here's the requested look-ahead to Sunday's action. No, you won't be able to pick up the top names on this list, but given the wide variety of league specs out there, I can't be sure where the universal names stop and the available options begin. Thus, we forge ahead and rank everybody, and you're free to use it how you like. Assume a 5x5 format as always.
A lot of pitchers are tagged with an asterisk; in those cases, we need to check the player's status between now and Sunday. There are some other disclaimers that go along with this list, please see them after we run down the Final 30.
Sunday's Pitching Form
- *CC Sabathia (vs. CHC): Make sure they need the game; a Milwaukee win and a Mets loss Saturday ends the wild-card chase.
- Tim Lincecum (vs. LA): They're throwing him, so I can't imagine he'll be limited.
- *Cole Hamels (vs. WAS): Philly's magic number is 1 into Saturday's play, so this start is in jeopardy.
- *Cliff Lee (at CHW): Sore neck but he wants to go; we'll find out Saturday.
- Mike Mussina (at BOS): Joe Girardi says all hands on deck; will Sox have a skeleton lineup?
- Oliver Perez (vs. FLA): Strong resume against the Fish (3-0, 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).
- *Joe Saunders (vs. TEX): We'll see if Scioscia tips his hand.
- Randy Johnson (vs. COL): Just eight strikeouts in last three turns.
- Mark Buehrle (vs. CLE): Five quality turns in a row, three on the road.
- Ubaldo Jimenez (at ARI): ERA doesn't reflect second half improvements.
- Jesse Litsch (at BAL): He's been great since he returned eight starts ago (four wins, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP).
- Wandy Rodriguez (vs. ATL): He's playable at home, anyway (3.03 ERA, strikeout per inning).
- Kyle Lohse (vs. CIN): Gets a break with Volquez scratched.
- Scott Baker (vs. KC): A favorite on paper but the Royals are pesky.
- *James Shields (at DET): How much will they expose him?
- Cha Seung Baek (vs. PIT): Limited upside, but in the right environment.
- Jair Jurrjens (at HOU): Astros haven't seen him yet, which may help.
- Hiroki Kuroda (at SF): He's struggled in three turns against Giants (6.32 ERA, 1.79 WHIP).
- Odalis Perez (at PHI): He's been surprisingly useful lately, but this park has to make you nervous.
- Tim Wakefield (vs. NYY): The knuckleball, most erratic pitch of them all.
- Kevin Millwood (at LAA): The Millwood Matrix is not easily understood.
- Zach Miner (vs. TB): Bloom came off the rose in September.
- Brandon Duckworth (at MIN): Modest run of late but he's a definite underdog.
- Scott Olsen (at NYM): The Mets have owned him his entire career (one win in 12 starts, 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP).
- *Jeremy Guthrie (vs. TOR): Why are they risking him off the injury?
- Adam Pettyjohn (at STL): I can't see a reason, maybe you can.
- Josh Outman (at SEA): At least he's keeping the ball in the park, I guess.
- Ross Ohlendorf (at SD): Petco might not be big enough for him.
- Ryan Feierabend (vs. OAK): If you want to roll with 7.71, 1.84 and .355, I can't stop you.
- *Sidd Finch (at MIL): French horn player has nasty stuff (no, seriously, the Cubs haven't named their guy yet; we'll catch it Saturday).
Disclaimers and other relevant items: I'll monitor, tweak, and update this list Saturday as time allows. Keep in mind this list is a set of intelligent guesses, not a tarot card reading. Even the best baseball teams lose 35-40 percent of the time; even the sorriest of clubs win 35-40 percent of the time. Sometimes Daniel Cabrera beats Josh Beckett, that's just a fact of life. If you want to consider my opinions as you make your decisions, that's great - but never lose sight of the fact that it's your team and it's ultimately your final decision. (And when you win, it's your glory.)
All that said, I hope it falls well, and if Closing Time helped you (or entertained you) this season, I'm thrilled.
Friday News and Notes: Daisuke Matsuzaka was scratched Friday as the Red Sox didn't want to mess with the rain; he'll go Saturday instead. Josh Beckett, the original starter for Saturday, may or may not see some relief work in this game . . . Mike Lowell had one painful at-bat Friday then left the game; his hip clearly isn't right. Don't look for him the next two days, and his playoff status is in doubt . . . Derek Jeter has a sore hand and left Friday's game early; he'll rest Saturday, but a Sunday start is possible as Joe Girardi rallies the troops for the Mike Mussina cause (Moose is seeking win No. 20, and Girardi is taking it very seriously) . . . Mark DeRosa (calf) is improving and Lou Piniella would like to play him Sunday if possible, just to keep him fresh. We'll see . . . Jeff Kent played half the game for the Dodgers at second base Friday, and Rafael Furcal logged four innings at shortstop. It will be very interesting to see how Joe Torre decides to handle his infield when the playoffs kick off . . . Travis Buck homered and drove in four runs at Seattle, making a solid pitch for a regular spot in 2009. He's not the worst play Sunday if you need an outfielder in a pinch; he's hitting .333 in his brief September trial, with three homers . . . A couple of Reds are facing surgery and are done for the year; closer Francisco Cordero (foot) and outfielder Chris Dickerson (ankle). David Weathers figures to get the ninth-inning looks if the Reds have a weekend lead . . . In case you missed it, Ben Sheets will in fact start for the Brewers Saturday, with Dave Bush available in relief as needed . . . Bryan Bullington is Cleveland's Plan B Sunday if Cliff Lee (neck) can't go . . . Chad Qualls rolled to his eight save Friday and Bob Melvin has already tabbed him the favorite to be Arizona's closer next year.