As of this column's born-on date (Thurs., Sept. 3), there were precisely 32 days left in the 2009 regular season. If you're in a weekly league, that means four more lineup changes. And if you're in a daily league, assuming you make an aggressive one to two transactions per day, you have approximately 30 to 60 moves remaining to determine your league title.
And let's be honest, taking into consideration the time of year, that transaction total is probably going to be considerably less in most cases. Given that the novelty of the season has worn off now that teams have played upward of 130 games – not to mention the fact that many of us have already become somewhat immersed in the upcoming football season – it becomes more and more difficult to scour box scores with the same vigor that we did earlier in the season.
But make no mistake, it is as important now – in fact, more important – to keep the utmost focus, to force ourselves to aggressively diagnose our teams' weaknesses and address them via the wire at once.
As Mr. Payne said to Mitch Kramer and friends in Dazed and Confused
, "It's like our sergeant told us before one trip into the jungle. Men, fifty of you are leaving on a mission. Twenty-five of you ain't coming back."
Okay, it's not a perfect quote, because actually only one of us will be left standing in each respective league at the end of the regular season. But you get the point. And the truth is, at this late stage your methods don't have to be perfectly tidy – they just have to get the job done.MIXED LEAGUETim Hudson, SP, ATL
(Yahoo: 21 percent owned; ESPN: 9 percent)
Based on what I saw during Tuesday night's start (5.2 innings, six hits, two runs, three walks, five K's), the surgically-repaired Hudson doesn't look like he missed 10 minutes, let alone a year. He operated mostly in the high 80's/low 90's with his sinker, but that's all the veteran needs to be effective, and his command was relatively sharp considering the long layoff.
The bottom line: Hudson knows how to pitch, and the Braves very clearly intend to keep him in the rotation down the stretch as they weigh whether or not to pick up his $12 million option next season (which, if he keeps looking this good, they almost certainly will). And speaking of picking things up, go hit the plus sign if Hudson is available in your mixed league right now.For exclusive second half projections, player rankings and more, check out Rotoworld's Late-Season Report.Felix Pie, OF, BAL
(Yahoo: 2 percent owned; ESPN: 2 percent)
With the news that Adam Jones
could miss the remainder of the season due to a sprained ankle, Pie suddenly becomes an intriguing outfield option for the final month. The enigmatic former blue chip prospect has been a disappointment to date, but he's still just 24 and has hit .364 (12-for-33) with five homers and nine RBI in his last nine games, including four homers in his last six games. Pie is a dish best served warm. Make the move now and hope the binge continues.Andy Marte, 1B/3B, CLE
(Yahoo: 5 percent owned; ESPN: 4 percent)
Speaking of disappointing former top prospects, Marte has looked like he's been swinging a six-foot-long smoked turkey leg up at the plate for much of his young career (which is to say, his bat has looked rather slow and somewhat glazed), but the 25-year-old had a 963 OPS with 18 homers, 24 doubles and 66 RBI in 300 minor league at-bats this season, which he has followed up by hitting four homers with 16 RBI in 87 big league at-bats, with all four of those homers coming in his last eight games.
And yes, that was an outrageously long sentence (I'm blaming Marte's swing). In any case, Marte is still a work in progress (evidenced by a 19/7 K/BB ratio for the Tribe thus far), but he makes an intriguing add down the stretch.Juan Gutierrez, RP, ARI
(Yahoo: 14 percent owned; ESPN: 4 percent)
Gutierrez has taken over as the D'Backs' closer in the wake of Chad Qualls
' knee dislocation, registering two consecutive saves while not allowing a hit or a walk this week. The hard-throwing 26-year-old has a somewhat under whelming 4.10 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, but with 55 K's in 59.1 innings on the season, he definitely has the arsenal to get the job done.Brad Penny, SP, SF
(Yahoo: 10 percent owned; ESPN: 12 percent)
Amazing what leaving Boston (and the AL East) will do to a pitcher these days. Penny arrived in San Francisco and promptly shut down the NL's most dangerous lineup on Wednesday, holding the Phillies scoreless for eight innings (with five hits, one walk and two K's) while ripping into the mid-90's on the radar gun. He won't be this good every time out, but the right-hander clearly has something to prove and could definitely be an asset in mixed leagues down the stretch.SPOT STARTER ROULETTE
We debut S.S.R.'s very own section in the column this week, proving that even in September it's not too late for a modest burst of inspiration. To be clear: Only consider the individuals listed in this rather dangerous section if you're desperate for pitching stats, need to make a run in your league and don't have a lot to lose. If you're playing spot starter roulette with a lead in the standings, remind me not to hang out with you anywhere in the direct vicinity of a revolver.
Note: Last week, we went 2-1 in the spot starter roulette arena (I'm counting Ryan Rowland-Smith
's eight strong innings and Marc Rzepczynski
's final start of 2009 as victories even though neither recorded wins, and I'm counting Charlie Haeger
's start – four earned runs in 2.1 innings – as a loss because by most accounts a 15.43 ERA is bad).
As an aside, in a weekly league where I'm in second place and in need of wins, I gambled on Derek Holland
for two starts this week, only to see him punch me in the kidney by letting up 10 earned runs in three innings on Monday.
And on that positive note, here are this week's starters, presented in bullet-point form because, let's face it, they are in many ways like bullets (potentially on the mark but also quite dangerous):
· Sean West, FLA
(Yahoo: 4 percent owned; ESPN: 1 percent) – starts Fri. @ WAS: In his last four starts, the 6-foot-8 lefty is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 14/5 K/BB ratio in 22 innings.
· Ryan Rowland-Smith, SEA
(Yahoo: 5 percent owned; ESPN: 2 percent) – starts Fri. @ OAK: We're feeling lucky after the bespectacled lefty went eight innings with five hits, three runs, one walk and seven K's against KC last time out. At some point roulette backfires horribly, but I don't think this start is it.
· Vicente Padilla, LAD
(Yahoo: 4 percent owned; ESPN: 2 percent) – starts Sun. vs. SD: Padilla has been solid in his first two starts since joining L.A. (1-0 with a 2.38 ERA and 9/3 K/BB ratio in 10.1 innings), and there's nothing wrong with a Sunday night start at home against the NL's least-productive offense.