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Friday, October 1, 2010
Tommy Hanson hopes to tame Phillies

By AJ Mass

It's out of your hands. As the final games of the season take place this weekend, the one thing that is for certain is the uncertainty. Managers may try unusual things like, pull starters after two innings or put other starters into a relief role -- you just can't predict what may happen. With no tomorrow for fantasy, if you're in first, play it close to the vest. If you need a miracle, throw caution to the wind and take a few big chances. After all, this is it. Thanks for reading all season. Our final starting pitcher rankings for the final games of 2010 are below:

For starters: Saturday

Selected notes:

Top of the Charts: Ubaldo Jimenez goes for win No. 20 against the St. Louis Cardinals, which could give his team a little extra something to play for as the season winds down. He faces Kyle Lohse and his 4.78 ERA against the Colorado Rockies. The San Francisco Giants flipped starters, and Barry Zito gets pushed back to Saturday. If it doesn't matter, the San Diego Padres' bats may go on vacation early, making this an easy win.

Only if it matters: Tommy Hanson has a 1.56 ERA against the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, and this game will likely mean far more to the Atlanta Braves than to Cole Hamels and his teammates. Tim Stauffer is 2-1 against the Giants with a 1.29 ERA this year.

Ervin Santana has already defeated the Texas Rangers three times this season, and goes for "the sweep" on Saturday. Chad Billingsley has not tasted defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, and has a respectable 3.94 ERA against them.

While he might not end up starting, expect Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price to see a little bit of action on Saturday in preparation for the playoffs. A.J. Burnett, if he pitches a few strong innings, may also get an early look to keep his confidence high.

For starters: Sunday

Selected notes:

Top of the Charts: If it comes down to Mat Latos needing a win over Jonathan Sanchez, we'll go with Latos. This year, Latos has a 2.25 ERA versus the Giants while Sanchez is 0-3 in his starts against the Padres. Meanwhile, Dan Haren has a 1.13 ERA facing the Rangers in 2010, and Texas has little to play for.

Again, many teams may make last-minute changes to their starters on Sunday. Felix Hernandez wanted to make one final start for the Seattle Mariners, and had he done so he would be the clear No. 1 pick for the day. However, the team has decided to shut him down and not risk an injury in a meaningless game. They have yet to name a replacement. Next stop for King Felix? The Cy Young.

Trio of unbeatens: Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez all have goose eggs in the loss column this year against their respective Sunday opponents and all have with ERAs just below 4.00.

History repeats?: Randy Wolf is 10-2 for his career against the Cincinnati Reds, and Edwin Jackson is 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA lifetime facing the Tribe. Color us a little less confident that Jeff Suppan's 6-2 against the Rockies holds as much weight, given his horrific overall 2010 numbers.

Now batting

Hitters' count: Saturday

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: He's been up and down lately but should get back to his apex facing Lohse, against whom he's 6-for-10 lifetime, four of those being extra-base hits.

Manny Ramirez, DH, White Sox: Ramirez has one last chance to give general managers something to think about as we head into the offseason, and he's a .375 hitter against the current Indians staff.

Ike Davis, 1B, Mets: Davis is batting .344 this month and already has a home run off of Yunesky Maya under his belt.

Marco Scutaro, SS, Red Sox: Scutaro is finishing up the season strong, with a seven-game hitting streak working. He is .304 lifetime facing Burnett.

Pitchers' count: Saturday

Erick Aybar, SS, Angels: He was "supposed to be" out for the year with a sports hernia but started playing again on Monday, and has gone 1-for-7 this week. Go with another option if you have it.

Miguel Tejada, SS, Padres: He's in a 2-for-14 slump and nursing a sore hip that he's playing through only because the Padres are still alive, something that might not be true by the time Saturday's game starts.

Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: The Phillies are giving their players a bit of a rest before the playoffs, and that may mean Howard, 2-for-11 against Hanson, gets today off.

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals: For what it's worth, Pujols is only 2-for-12 against Jimenez, and he's already missed one game in the final homestand.

Hitters' count: Sunday

Delmon Young, OF, Twins: Young is batting .333 during the past week, and has homered off the scheduled starter, Marc Rzepczynski.

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers: Jackson has recaptured some of his early-season magic, with a .310 average during the past week. He's also batting .364 against the Orioles staff.

Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals: Hanley Ramirez owners might look to Desmond, who is 4-for-8 against Mike Pelfrey -- all for extra bases -- with a 1.375 slugging percentage.

Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: In his past seven games, Teixeira is hitting .370 with three round-trippers and .377 for his career facing John Lackey.

Pitchers' count: Sunday

Aubrey Huff, 1B, Giants: If this game even means anything, Huff likely won't help against Latos, if you believe the .133 lifetime batting average when they've faced each.

Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: Could Fielder go out with a whimper? The .143 career mark against Volquez seems to say there's a good chance.

Alex Gordon, OF, Royals: He's been flashing some leather late in the year, but a 2-for-22 run at the plate may have already killed your fantasy team.

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: He's hitless in his past 19 at-bats and has struck out 70 percent of the time when Ted Lilly is on the mound.

Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend

Saturday: Jake Fox, C, Orioles: Roll the dice here because Fox is a crafty 5-for-7 (.714) for his career against Armando Galarraga, with two home runs and five RBIs.

Sunday: Jonny Gomes, LF, Reds: Gomes has 14 RBIs this month and simply owns Randy Wolf, with eight hits in 13 at-bats -- a .615 batting average.

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Cubs at Astros and Athletics at Mariners. The rain finally moves out of the northeast, but one last storm system over the Great Lakes may put a damper on the end-of-the-year festivities on Saturday. For the final Sunday of the season, add the Orioles and Yankees to the mix of teams that might just pack things in for 2010 a few hours early -- or a few hours late, for that matter.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for You can follow AJ on Twitter or e-mail him here.