Before we collect some notes from the Thursday sandlot, here's the requested look-ahead to Saturday'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 playoff-bound arms are on this schedule, and it's pretty much anyone's call as to how much they'll throw here. I'll keep my ear to the ground, but in most cases, it's just a guessing game. The other tricky element to this streaming slate is the collection of scrubs and journeymen on the bottom of the card. Point and click very carefully.
Saturday's Pitching Form
Brandon Webb (vs. COL): He's rallied nicely and the matchup is ideal.
Chris Young (vs. PIT): At home against a modest offense.
Ricky Nolasco (at NYM): Unheralded ace with an unlimited upside.
Josh Beckett (vs. NYY): How deep do they let him go?
Ervin Santana (vs. TEX): He's already beaten them three times.
Matt Garza (at DET): Excellent chance for a win opposite Willis.
Javier Vazquez (vs. CLE): Trick-or-treat starter for most of second half.
Aaron Harang (at STL): Impressive comeback and he's out there in some groups.
Jamie Moyer (vs. WAS): Excellent win gambit, and he's got strikeouts against the opponent.
Todd Wellemeyer (vs. CIN): Second half held up better than most expected.
Matt Cain (vs. LAD): Five decent starts against LA (2.84 ERA), but no wins; story of his career.
Ted Lilly (at MIL): Brewers have zesty .818 OPS against lefties.
Ryan Rowland-Smith (vs. OAK): Up against AL's worst offense.
Gil Meche (at MIN): Underrated arm but in a tricky assignment.
Glen Perkins (vs. KC): Twin-cities hurler can't stop feeding the gopher (12 over seven starts).
Greg Maddux (at SF): No strikeout upside, no longer a comfortable floor.
Ben Sheets (vs. CHC): Surprise start off elbow problem; keep expectations tempered.
James Parr (at HOU): Two strong turns, two messy ones; I'm leery.
Jonathon Niese (vs. FLA): Mets wouldn't mind a rainout.
Greg Smith (at SEA): Boom-or-bust type; many usable turns, but lots of accidents, too.
John Lannan (at PHI): Good road resume but I don't trust him here.
Jimmy Barthmaier (at SD): At least he's in the right park.
John Parrish (at BAL): Hard to envision him working deep.
Brandon Backe (vs. ATL): Save the innings for Sunday, don't use them here.
Brian Bass (vs. TOR): First start, don't expect a lot.
Scott Feldman (at LAA): For every strong outing, you get 3-4 poundings.
Zach Jackson (at CHW): Wrong opponent, wrong park.
Sidney Ponson (at BOS): Batting practice in the second half.
Glendon Rusch (at ARI): Left-handers can pitch forever, I guess. In this case, not well.
Dontrelle Willis (vs. TB): I'll be flabbergasted if he does the job.
Thursday News and Notes: The Dodgers have shuffled their rotation around now that they've clinched the NL West; Chad Billingsley can now rest up for the playoffs. Greg Maddux will go Saturday against San Francisco, with Hiroki Kuroda pushed back to Sunday . . . Kevin Slowey left Thursday's start with a sore wrist, and it's not clear what his availability will be if the Twins make the playoffs . . . Cliff Lee (neck) might not make his Sunday turn against the White Sox . . . Mariano Rivera flew back to New York to have an MRI on his shoulder, and he admits that his whole body feels "cranky" at this point in the season. Still, the team hasn't officially ruled him out for the final series in Boston. If Rivera can't go, Joba Chamberlain figures to take over in the ninth inning . . . Joe Girardi plans to use all of his regulars Sunday as Mike Mussina aims to win 20 games for the fist time. "I want everybody available that day," Girardi told Newsday. "Whatever it takes." . . . Marlon Byrd is looking at knee surgery but it shouldn't affect him for 2009 . . . Andy Marte (calf) is out for the year, so we might see Jhonny Peralta get some time at third base . . . Troy Percival (back) had a brief appearance Thursday but is no sure thing to be on the playoff roster . . . Bob Melvin says that Chad Qualls is the favorite to be Arizona's closer in 2009, for what that's worth right now. Brandon Lyon is set to become a free agent and probably won't be back . . . Mark DeRosa (calf) might wind up sitting the entire weekend. "We've got to be very careful with it," Lou Piniella told the team's official site Thursday . . . Late-season favorite Nyjer Morgan might be shut down for the weekend after suffering a hamstring injury Thursday. Perhaps you can replace him with Atlanta's Josh Anderson, who has 14 runs scored and seven steals over the last four weeks.