By Moonlight Graham

It’s been a disappointing Major League season for those fans that enjoy September pennant races fieldwithballmoonas each division seems to be locked up and only the NL Wild Card spot is still being contested.  We might see one more divisional race if the Twins can sweep the Tigers this weekend but, with their pitching, it’s not likely.  For baseball purists, the final month has been a letdown.

The absence of close races will have a bearing on Fantasy Baseball owners also, as they’ll be forced to keep an eye on star players that are vital to their Fantasy Baseball teams being rested as their MLB team preps for the post season.  So, if you’re looking to pick up an important point or two in the W or ERA categories, be aware that C.C. Sabathia or Chris Carpenter might be passed over in order to get a little more rest before the playoffs.  Likewise, dependable veterans on teams out of the mix; guys like Paul Konerko and Miguel Tejada, to name two, may find a seat on the bench as their teams audition younger players.  The bottom line is, if you’re lucky enough to still be in the running for your league title, it is more important to keep an eye on the box scores now than at any other point in the season.

Streaking

Arizona’s Juan Gutierrez is making a case to be the D’Backs’ 2010 closer with 4 S and 1 W in September… Tommy Hanson has a 0.45 ERA over three September starts for Atlanta… Kansas City’s Robinson Tejeda is 2-0 over three starts with 18 K.  When did you ever think he’d be a piece of your puzzle?… Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith has gone 7 IP in each of his last four starts while posting a 2.61 ERA…

Stalling

Houston’s Miguel Tejada will see his playing time decrease as the Astros audition Tommy Manzelli at SS… Chad Billingsley’s most recent turn in the rotation was skipped as he has struggled over the last month… Despite extended rest, Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo was ripped in his last start and could be shut down for the rest of the year… Even though his last outing was a strong one, Chris Tillman may be shut down by the Orioles as they try to limit his IP… Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona is 1-5, 5.48 in his last nine starts… Jorge Posada will miss the weekend after being suspended for his ridiculous display during the Yankees- Blue Jays game on Wednesday… A.J. Burnett continues to struggle, going 1-4, 6.75 over his last six starts.  It’s been awhile since any of his teammates hit him with a pie… Take the 5-0 record given you by Pedro Martinez and run.  In his last start, the fragile Martinez threw 130 pitches, the most he’s thrown since 2002.  That followed a 119 pitch game in his previous outing.  You can’t expect him to hold up under the strain…

Sick Bay

Washington C Jesus Flores is done for the year after shoulder surgery… Justin Morneau will be out for the year with a stress fracture in his back… Kevin Youkilis has missed three straight with back spasms and could be out through the weekend… Detroit’s Jarrod Washburn is out with a bad knee… Yankees’ starter Andy Pettitte will miss a turn due to shoulder fatigue… Texas OF Josh Hamilton may miss the rest of the year with back issues…

By Moonlight Graham

Fantasy baseball standings: Details, Details

The first week of September usually finds only three or four fantasy baseball teams in contention.  Many of the also-rans have long since turned their attention to fantasy football, leaving all but a few scrambling for that extra point or two that could make the difference between second place and a fantasy baseball league title.  One way that you can pick up an easy point or two might be to stay on top of the aforementioned fantasy owners at the bottom of the standings.  Make sure they keep their fantasy baseball rosters current.  Even though they may have fallen out of the race long ago, they still have a bearing on the way things finish.  For instance, the eighth place team in your league might be trailing the leader by just two SB.  It then becomes incumbent upon him to replace an injured base stealer.  Unfortunately, owners buried in the standings sometimes look to keep their transaction totals down in order to save money and end up adversely affecting those in the title chase.  There is absolutely nothing more frustrating then watching a rival get a free point due to another’s negligence.

Any other miniscule point gains are garnered by old fashioned attention to detail.  Keep a watchful eye on MLB September callups, especially those made by rebuilding teams like the A’s , Giants and Nationals; all of whom may take a look at minor leaguers who could fit into their 2009 plans.

RISING

One player who jumps out as one who could be immediately helpful in the SB category is Oakland OF Najeh Davis who has already accumulated 24 SB in just 165 AB.  He registered his first 4 hit game last weekend and looks like he’ll get regular playing time throughout the rest of the season.  After spending much of the last two seasons unhappy with his role, Brett Myers has turned in three straight dominating performances for the Phils.  While he has struggled mightily for most of the year, don’t forget that he has been a 200+ K pitcher in the past.  Mark DeRosa is enjoying a career season with the Cubs and has been hot of late, recently homering in four straight games.  Raul Ibanez is staging his annual hot September in Seattle as he and Adrian Beltre seem to be the only M’s not playing out the string.

FALLING

Tigers’ 3B Carlos Guillen sat out a few games last week to rest a sore back that has been troubling him all year.  He has a mere 10 HR and only 54 RBI while not running at all on the basepaths.  While the Cubs have been marching through the NL Central, someone seems to have misplaced Derek Lee’s power bat.  The big 1B has endured a long and severe power drought.  Brandon Lyon has allowed 10 R in his last 5 1/3 IP.  With the D’Backs in a pennant race and Jon Rauch and Chad Qualls as options, Lyon is a bad outing away from being replaced.

GRAB BAG

The Rockies have chosen to keep Jorge De La Rosa in the rotation after two solid performances.  Brandon Morrow returns to Seattle after being sent down for a conversion to starter.  His outstanding K ratio could give your staff a quick boost.

DROP ZONE

Livan Hernandez has been relegated to the Rockies’ bullpen.  Aaron Heilman has been unable to step forward as the Mets’ closer and will get fewer opportunities as rosters expand.

SICK BAY

- Evan Longoria is targeting an early September return to the Rays’ lineup.  Justin Upton returns this week to the D’Backs roster having K’d 22 times in 51 rehab AB.  Reds’ hurler Johnny Cueto is suffering from elbow soreness and could miss a start.

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