Closing Time: Wade Davis makes his mark

The Rays wanted Wade Davis(notes) to be a little more aggressive in his third big league start, trust his stuff a little more. Good advice, men.

Perhaps you needed to take a leap of faith to trust Davis at Baltimore on Thursday – remember that the Red Sox roughed him up last week – but if you took the plunge, you got rewarded with an absolute gem (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K). The Orioles didn't really do a thing after a first-inning rally; Davis was basically untouchable over the final eight innings (video evidence here). It was a little unsettling to see the 24-year-old throw 124 pitches when it probably wasn't needed, but hey, he's not our future ace to manage.

With two stellar turns out of three in The Show (Davis mowed down the Tigers in his MLB debut), I think it's safe to put this guy in the circle of trust. A start against Seattle calls next week and then he'll probably get Baltimore again; those are favorable matchups, amigos. It's scary to think of how good this Tampa Bay rotation could be into the next decade.

One of my favorite parts of any roto season is watching the unexpected stars who emerge down the stretch, the no-names that morph from forgotten player to indispensable stud. Take Oakland's Rajai Davis(notes) for example; he was a spare part and nothing more at the beginning of the season, but he's become one of the AL's most dynamic offensive players in the second half (.345, 37 runs, 36 RBIs, 28 steals). What's that worth in a typical 5x5 mixed format? Baseball Monster says Davis is the No. 4 offensive player over the last two months.

Davis doesn't look quite as interesting if you look under the hood; he's been lucky on balls in play (.369 BABIP) and while his walk and strikeout rates have improved this year, he's still going up to the dish swinging most of the time. If Davis can convince the A's between now and April that this run is real, he's an intriguing keeper prospect as a cheap speed source. But it won't be a shocker if the club aims a little higher and decides Davis is better served as someone who plays 3-4 times week, not every day. In the meantime, let's go back to enjoying this Rickey Henderson imitation of his and we'll worry about 2010 a little bit later.

Is Rich Harden(notes) going to pick again for the Cubs this season? That depends on who you ask. Lou Piniella maintained Thursday that Harden will skip only one start – "We'll just give him a breather," the skipper told – but it's not clear what the team has in mind after that. Harden believes that it's just a one-turn rest and that he'll be back next weekend against San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune has a source that claims Harden isn't going to pitch again this year.

The Harden rest, however long it lasts, gives Tom Gorzelanny(notes) a shot at impressing the brass and potentially working his way into the 2010 rotation plans. Gorzelanny has showed promise in his four Chicago turns (1.09 WHIP, 22 Ks in 24.2 innings), though he's been a little unlucky with a 4.74 ERA.

Saturday Streamables: Ross Ohlendorf(notes) works at home against San Diego and he's been sneaky-good of late (2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP over his last nine turns). … John Lannan(notes) has a 1.96 ERA in three turns against the Mets and Citi Field should provide a reasonable floor. … I'll sign off on both sides of the San Francisco-LA match, Brad Penny(notes) and Jon Garland(notes).Bronson Arroyo(notes) shouldn't be available right now but he might be floating about in less-competitive groups; he's collected 10 consecutive quality starts and the Marlins aren't an imposing lot.

Speed Round: Zach Greinke's 14th victory was an abbreviated outing; he took a shot off his pitching arm in the fourth inning and was gone after the fifth. … Brad Lidge(notes) handled a save chance without disaster against Washington, though he still allowed a run in the 4-2 victory. … Brian Fuentes(notes) got the final two outs at Boston, a nice bounce-back after Wednesday's squeeze fest (those non-strike calls to Nick Green(notes) were ridiculous). … A sore knee kept Milton Bradley(notes) out of Thursday's matinee . . . Gavin Floyd(notes) has a sore hip and is probably down for the year . … So much for the Brett Tomko(notes) revival; a sore elbow has ended his season. … Kevin Youkilis(notes) (back) is on the improve and might be ready to go Friday . . . J.A. Happ(notes) (oblique) returns to action Friday at Atlanta . … If you need a Swiss Army Knife for the final two weeks, you could do a lot worse than Willie Harris(notes). He's got nine runs, 12 walks, two homers and a steal through half of September, and he's carrying three positions in the Yahoo fantasy world. And because he's Willie Harris, he's still free in most mixed groups.

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