The Twins had two seasons end over the weekend. Nick Blackburn had his rehab shut down and is done for the season. He's a testament to the fact that ground balls, and ground balls alone, is not enough to hang your hat on. Now 720 innings into his career, his 4.50 ERA is the best single stat to look at anyway. The Twins also got bad news on Francisco Liriano, who has a left shoulder strain. Even if it's not considered serious, it's the second time he's had the issue this season. He had the swinging strikes and ground balls this year, but control eluded him. If he gets traded to the National League, he's immediately more interesting next year. The Twins had a snakebit year, and Justin Morneau is one red flag from the doctors away from being done for the season too. He took batting practice Friday, but the fact that he's still dealing with concussion symptoms is really bad news.
Hanley Ramirez will undergo surgery on his shoulder, so it's not all Twins who found their seasons ended. The four-to-six months of recovery time means that we have to be cautious with him next year too. Mike Stanton went down with a hamstring injury, but he's only day-to-day. Cameron Maybin did not start his eighth straight game Sunday but he did pinch run and is close to returning. Nate McLouth was officially transferred to the 60-day DL and not only is his season over, but most likely his tenure with the Braves. Jake Peavy is a candidate for being shut down, admits his manager. He's dealing with fatigue and the team is almost out of it. Brennan Boesch will have season-ending surgery, which ends a solid sophomore campaign. Franklin Gutierrez is done for the year with a severe oblique strain, which ends a lost year.
Let's end on a positive note. Mark Teixeira was hit in the knee Thursday but returned Sunday and should be fine. Johan Santana is going to make a rehab start Friday and then join the Mets. Who knows how long he can go into games, and if they'll give him a start on September 14 or 15 or if they'll wait until the following week's homestead. Clay Buchholz felt really good after throwing on flat ground and hopes to return as a reliever later this month. Does that mean his fantasy season is over? Grady Sizemore should return sometime this week, so it's worth looking if he's available in your deeper leagues, even if the speed is gone. Jason Kipnis might return later this week, too. Nelson Cruz thinks he can beet the three-week timetable, if someone dropped him in your roto league.
* Jeremy Guthrie has a 4.95 second-half ERA and gave up seven runs (three earned) in five innings against the Rays Friday, so that means we're starting with the bad pitching paragraph. Guthrie is always a borderline play, even in deeper leagues, but he should have been a start in this game. Sit him against the Blue Jays in Toronto next time out. Brett Cecil had a worse day, as he gave up four earned in six against the Yankees. Average whiffs, average control and below-average ground-ball rate makes the former closer an iffy play in any league right now. John Lackey gave up six runs in five innings to the Rangers and really just has very little going for him at this point. He's barely ownable in any league.
Ian Kennedy set the bar for the NL with his 18th victory Saturday, beating Tim Lincecum in the process. Other than control, none of his numbers are elite, and he's benefitted from some good luck this year. Most years, he'll have an ERA in the mid-to-high threes given his peripherals. Brandon McCarthy shut out the Mariners with ten strikeouts to put an exclamation mark on his year so far. His new ground-ball rate, combined with excellent control, is making his marginal stuff play up -- and surely his home park helps a little. Edwin Jackson has been pretty good in the National League this time around. After allowing two runs in seven to the Reds (with eight strikeouts), he has a 3.44 ERA in the lesser league. Given his mediocre whiff and ground-ball rates, the fact that Matt Harrison held the Red Sox to two runs in seven innings with five strikeouts has to be counted as a surprise. Still, he'll be worth starting in Seattle this week. Jeremy Hellickson has had some results that didn't work with his peripherals. But we also know that he has more upside than he's showing right now, particularly in the control department. He didn't walk a batter and held the Orioles to one run in a complete game victory. Sure, he only struck out one, but there's more coming. Mat Latos gave up two runs in seven innings and struck out eight. He's an interesting sleeper for next year and in dynasty leagues, he might be a good offseason acquisition. Max Scherzer blanked the White Sox and deserves better than his 4.33 ERA.
* September is a strange month. All the promising young players are up since the minor league seasons are over, but their playing time is often sparse. To whit: James Darnell is back with the Padres and will get time with Chase Headley on the DL (until mid-month) and Logan Forsythe hurting (angry knee says the Padres manager). But it's unclear how much time fellow callup Anthony Rizzo will get with Jesus Guzman playing so well. Nathan Eovaldi is a promising young pitcher, but now he's in the bullpen after his final start on Saturday (one run in six innings against the Braves). Devin Mesoraco is with the Reds, and actually will make his first major league start on Monday. He might not get a ton of at-bats. Ryan Lavarnway is a big young kid with a bat, but he'll only be a third catcher and backup DH for the Red Sox the rest of the way.
* Brian Wilson leads the bullpen paragraph because he can break things with his beard. He threw Sunday, but it was 'lightly' and a bullpen is coming 'soon.' Removing Rafael Betancourt from the closer's role right now would be asinine says his manager. Whoa! Francisco Cordero wants to remain with the Reds after this season, but the dude is 37 and clearly declining. Why pay him $12 million when Aroldis Chapman is cheaper and better? Sergio Santos blew his fifth save of the season on Saturday by allowing a two-run home run to lefty-killer Ryan Raburn and then a walkoff blast to Miguel Cabrera (who hit another Sunday). Sean Marshall got the save on Sunday after Carlos Marmol blew the game by giving up a two-out grand slam to Derrek Lee on Saturday. No mention of a changing of the guard, though.
* How about some play at the plate? Jose Bautista was the first to 40 home runs this year, raise your hand if you were sure he'd be good again this year. Lucas Duda only hit his eighth, but this second half has been a break-out half for him. There's nothing really unsustainable about it either. Adam Jones doubled and homered on Sunday, and that gives him 23 dongers and 11 stolen this season. It's his best year of his career, and it might represent his peak. Carl Crawford had a great weekend, including a grand slam on Saturday and four hits over the weekend. Platoon Brewer catcher George Kottaras hit for the cycle. That's right, the cycle. He's still a tricky play because Jonathan Lucroy is the primary backstop.
National League Quick Hits: Wandy Rodriguez gave up three runs in six innings, but struck out eight Brewers and is pretty much an every-starter in every league … Now the Giants are confident that Jonathan Sanchez will return this season, after he threw 10 pitches at 65% on Saturday … Anibal Sanchez didn't give up an earned run against the Phillies Sunday, ending an unlucky streak that made people wonder if he was tiring … Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs in seven-plus with six strikeouts and one walk to continue his storybook resurgence … Paul Goldschmidt hit a home run Saturday but all those strikeouts are not a good sign … The Braves' Randall Delgado has mid-rotation upside, and held the Dodgers to three runs in five innings with four strikeouts on Sunday … Bronson Arroyo held the Cardinals to two runs in eight innings, but the five strikeouts and ten hits means he's really just back to being mediocre … Charlie Morton gets ground balls, but he also gave up three earned runs in 4 1/3 to the Cubs and has a putrid 96-to-68 strikeout-to-walk ratio … Randy Wells only gave up one run in six innings to the Pirates but he's still a risky play in most leagues given his career history … Jose Constanza had two hits Sunday, but it was only his third start in the Braves' last nine games.
American League Quick Hits: Ben Zobrist missed his second straight day Sunday but should be back Monday … Carlos Quentin says his shoulder feels better but he's not ready quite yet … Colby Rasmus (wrist) will begin swinging in the next couple of days … Trevor Cahill held the Mariners to one run with four strikeouts in five innings and it was only the first time he won over the past seven starts, which is weird because he's done some things better this year than last year … Coco Crisp could return to the lineup Monday … The Yankees will continue on with a six-man rotation says Joe Girardi … Jed Lowrie was removed from Saturday's game with soreness in that left shoulder but called the move precautionary … Kevin Slowey gave up two earned in seven against the Angels with a mere four strikeouts; His zero walks represent his best feature … Tsuyoshi Nishioka is playing for his job next year, and got on base four times Saturday in that effort … Casper Wells was hit by a pitch and is day-to-day … Chris Davis will play some rehab games Sunday and Monday … Michael Taylor was supposed to play Sunday, but it looks like he'll get at-bats against lefties when he finally does get into the lineup … Joel Pineiro gave up one run in seven innings against the Twins, but that says something about the Twins offense for sure … Conor Jackson left the Red Sox game on Sunday holding his arm, then got his knee checked out, and is supposedly fine … Blake Beaven gave up four earned in five innings against the Athletics, which means he's pretty much un-ownable … Chone Figgins is back in the major leagues!