If you're making a late rally in your fantasy league, you want clear skies. If you're protecting a tenuous lead, let it pour, baby.
The clouds opened all over the map Friday, costing us five games in addition to the already-canceled tilt in Houston (courtesy of Hurricane Ike; stay safe, amigos). The Brewers and Phillies will play a deuce on Sunday, while all the other Friday rainouts are aiming for two games Saturday. If the weather plays nice, we'll see 20 major-league games on Saturday.
Rainouts ultimately hurt the participation rate from our key fantasy guys, for two reasons. First and foremost, managers don't always expose important players to a pair of games in the same day. And secondly, when also-rans fall into postponements this late in the season, there's never a guarantee that the games (essentially meaningless) will be made up.
I'm not a meteorologist and don't pretend to be, so let's shift our focus back to the field and the lads who actually did play Friday:
• Chad Qualls, anyone? He cleaned up Brandon Lyon's latest mess Friday, striking out Jerry Hairston Jr. and securing Brandon Webb's 20th win. With very little fanfare, Qualls has been outstanding of late, going unscored on in 17 of 18 appearances. I can't see how Bob Melvin can risk ninth-inning leads with Lyon any longer, and Jon Rauch hasn't been right for a solid month now.
• And finally, David Price is deemed ready for the big leagues - Durham bowed out of the International playoffs Friday. He'll join the Rays on Saturday and will be part of the bullpen shuffle immediately, though he's expected to start one of the games in the Sept. 23 doubleheader. "Obviously, with him not having much experience in the bullpen, it'll be something that we may approach a little differently," team VP Andrew Friedman said. "But as far as the particulars of the Price rules, it's too early to give any direction there. But (Saturday), he will be available to pitch in relief." For more on the Tampa Bay phenom, I direct you to this earlier episode of The Andy Behrens Show.
• Paul Maholm deserves more than nine wins, you can be sure of that. He handled the Cardinals over eight innings Friday (7 H, 2 R), and it was the 18th time this year he's allowed three earned runs or less. Given the small-market screen of Pittsburgh, I bet he's a decent value next year.
• Cliff Lee has baffled the entire American League in 2008, but the Royals have been his favorite target (five wins). He cruised through eight easy innings Friday before tiring a bit in the ninth, but at the end of the rainbow was his 22nd win and another step closer to the AL Cy Young Award. He'll get a better test down the stretch, facing Minnesota, Boston and Chicago, with the last two on the road.
• You never know with the knuckler, a pitch consistent only in its inconsistency. Tim Wakefield couldn't get the flutterball working at Texas last week, but it dipped and darted away from the Toronto bats Friday night (3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K). The Jays are now 7.5 games out of the Wild Card - if they want to get back in this, they need to sweep the rest of the Boston series this weekend, behind short-rest starters Jesse Litsch, A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay.
• Matt Lindstrom picked up his third save of the last week in Friday's 2-1 decision over Washington, and he's making a solid case that he should be the ninth-inning guy into 2009. Ten of his 14 pitches Friday were strikes, and that's the key with this power righty - it's never been a question of stuff.
• Chad Billingsley kept his superb second half going on Friday, working six solid innings at Colorado and grabbing his 15th win (6 H, 2 R, 3 B, 3 K). His last bad turn came July 8 against the Braves - that's 13 starts ago. He's going to be expensive everywhere in 2009, but that doesn't mean I won't be tempted to write the check.
• Jeff Francis took the loss for Colorado, though he did work a quality start for the sixth straight turn. His ugly seasonal stats screen his strong finish, and if you can stomach having pitchers based in Colorado, you can probably get a good deal on him next March. Keep in mind this was a 17-win, 165-strikeout guy the previous year, and he's still just 27.
• Speed Round: The hits keep coming for Taylor Teagarden, now 11-for-29 with five homers since he joined The Show . . . Matt Harrison pitches about one brilliant game a month, but there's no rhyme or reason to when they'll show up. He scattered nine baserunners at Oakland Friday en route to a shutout and his eighth win . . . Ian Stewart went 0-for-4 Friday and has fallen into a 4-for-31 funk. He's also got 80 strikeouts in 225 at-bats . . . Pedro Martinez's turn has been pushed back two days, to Monday . . . Brian Wilson continues to stumble to the finish line, though he pitched out of his own jam Friday and got save No. 38. His save total will probably make him overpriced next year, while the stats under the surface will keep the sharpies away . . . Evan Longoria is expected to start the first game of Saturday's doubleheader in New York . . . Hank Blalock homered for the third straight day Friday, and he's 12-for-41 this month . . . There's a possibility this weekend's Chicago-Houston series might eventually be shifted to Milwaukee for Sunday and Monday play. We'll know more during the day Saturday.
• Injury Lap: Rick Ankiel (abdominal) and Chris Carpenter (shoulder) are both done for the year, and Ankiel will need surgery for his ailment . . . Chris Dickerson (ankle) got back to work Friday and reached base three times . . . No worries with Josh Hamilton's foot: he played Friday and went 1-for-5 . . . Milton Bradley (various) gave us a pinch-hitting appearance, grounding out . . . Vladimir Guerrero left Friday's game in the fifth inning with a sore right knee, and given that the Angels already have the division clinched, you know what this probably means. Take a seat, Big Guy. Teammate Torii Hunter is resting a sore quad . . . Todd Helton (back) was activated off the DL Friday and struck out as a pinch hitter. He's probably looking at part-time work for the final two weeks.