Before we collect some notes from the Wednesday sandlot, here's the requested look-ahead to Friday'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.
Friday's Pitching Form
Francisco Liriano (vs. KC): Reinvention Tour has been a smash.
Dan Haren (vs. COL): Strikeout rate hasn't wavered and he's owned the Rockies.
Derek Lowe (vs. SF): Eight beauties in a row as he angles for next contract.
Ryan Dempster (at MIL): Hasn't had a washout start in three months.
John Danks (vs. CLE): Strong finish validates breakout campaign.
John Lackey (vs. TEX): Whiffed 12 Rangers in his previous turn.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (vs. NYY): Tightrope master keeps working around the walks.
Brandon Morrow (vs. OAK): Teasing us lately but this is the AL's worst offense.
Andy Sonnanstine (at DET): Outstanding in last three against top-level opponents; get him on 2009 sleeper list.
Mike Pelfrey (vs. FLA): Winless and mediocre in last five; may be tiring a bit.
Bronson Arroyo (at STL): Eight wins, 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in second half.
Josh Geer (vs. PIT): Four solid efforts and a digestible matchup.
*Alfredo Aceves (at BOS): Rookie has been impressive in brief trial and Sox haven't seen him yet (check status, he's replacing the injured Pettitte).
Joe Blanton (vs. WAS): Just three decisions in 12 NL starts.
Scott Lewis (at CHW): It's guile over gas, but he's earned my trust.
Chris Volstad (at NYM): Almost every turn from the kid has been useful, even without much in the strikeout column.
Ian Snell (at SD): Trick-or-treat type, but six of last eight starts were useful.
Braden Looper (vs. CIN): Stumbling to finish, hasn't won a game in a month.
Brian Moehler (vs. ATL): Sneaky-useful as a possible win-grab.
Justin Verlander (vs. TB): Forget the name brand, he's throwing underhand right now.
Sean Gallagher (at SEA): Nifty three-start rally since the Minneapolis Massacre.
Vicente Padilla (at LAA): He's got 10 wins on the road, albeit the rest of the stats are ugly.
John Lannan (at PHI): Better on the road, but this is the wrong park for him.
Scott Richmond (at BAL): Bloated ERA but intriguing walk/strikeout numbers, albeit it's a tiny sample.
Jeff Suppan (vs. CHC): Andy warned you, and now I'm doing it.
Jorge Campillo (at HOU): Modest rally in September but he looks tired.
Brad Hennessey (vs. LAD): Too erratic to trust, plus he's up against Lowe.
Chris Waters (vs. TOR): Two fantastic starts, eight messy ones.
Jason Hirsh (at ARI): Can't imagine he'll be around long in this one.
Kyle Davies (at MIN): Road start, contending opponent, and Liriano. That's three strikes.
Wednesday News and Notes: Old friend Livan Hernandez got a win, albeit he allowed 12 hits and five runs in the process . . . Stephen Drew had three hits in Wednesday's loss and quietly is hitting .329 in the second half (along with a zesty .560 slugging percentage) . . . Todd Helton is headed for back surgery . . . The Brewers surprised everyone by tabbing Yovani Gallardo (off a serious knee injury) to pitch Thursday. Soft-tossing Jeff Suppan has been bumped to Friday . . . Cameron Maybin had another fun night (three hits, stolen base), but he was forced out of the game in the sixth inning with a sore hip . . . Edinson Volquez has a sore knee and won't go Sunday; Adam Pettyjohn steps in . . . Ryan Franklin earned his second save in as many days and has quietly pitched well in September . . . Willy Taveras (leg) won't play again in 2008 . . . Andy Pettitte (shoulder) is also done for the year; it appears Alfredo Aceves will go Friday at Boston, with Sidney Ponson getting the nod Saturday . . . David Purcey will rest the remainder of the year after rolling up 182 innings in the majors and minors.