Any fan of the Patriots that walks away from that game last night satisfied needs their head examined. Despite dominating in every statistical category, it took a Buffalo mistake in order for them to come away with a win. The defense could not stop the Bills. The Bills.
This is the team that fired their offensive coordinator just 10 days ago and had an offensive line where 60 percent of the players never had a snap in the NFL.
That same line manhandled the front seven of New England. With Terrell Owens barely around, Fred Jackson tore them to shreds. It was as if the team had never seen a screen pass before. This was an all-around bad game for New England. More over, if this game is against a good team, they lose.
Every non-Pats fan will join the chorus of boos at Leodis McKelvin. Whether or not he thought that he had to come out of the end zone, you need to protect the ball and hit the ground. One extra yard in that circumstance was not going to make the difference.
Simply astounding. That is why the Bills are the Bills and the Patriots are the Patriots.
On to the notes.
- Justin Morneau will miss the remainder of the season as a result of a back injury. The slugger has been bothered by the injury for about a month, and fluid build up had the team looking for answers. The result found was a stress fracture in the back. This is an injury that should heal in time, so Morneau will do nothing for three months. Sort of like the Twins from April to June.
- Tim Lincecum was able to shake off his back injury to shut down the Rockies in a key late-season matchup. He threw seven innings and more than 115 pitches in the effort last night, underscoring the fact that the Giants feel he is set to go the rest of the way. Owners should have no further concerns.
- Do not read much into Randy Johnson re-joining the Giants. The lefty threw a simulated game where he felt good, but the team will not look to move him back to the rotation. Expect Johnson to spend some time coming out of the bullpen as long as the team can continue to hang around.
- Bronson Arroyo is owned in just a quarter of all ESPN leagues, but continues to be one of the most dominating pitchers of the last month. Over his last seven starts, covering 52.1 innings, he has given up just eight earned runs. That is good for an ERA of 1.38 in that stretch.
- It is safe to say that Joba Chamberlain has little remaining fantasy value. Yes, he threw four good innings last night, but the fact remains that he was not in line for a win because of his pitch totals and the innings limit imposed by the Yankees. Chamberlain is young, but the reins being placed on him make him virtually useless for owners in the playoffs. Look elsewhere.
- Scott Feldman fell to 4-4 at home with a 4.88 ERA. He allowed six runs in just 6.1 innings of work yesterday to Oakland. Feldman has been very good on the road, but certainly is struggling with the type of offense that the Ballpark at Arlington can generate. He is too hit or miss at home to start there in the playoffs.
- Looking ahead, as pleasant as the starts of Joe Saunders have been recently, his next two will come against the Red Sox on the road and then the Yankees. If you are looking for wins, these will not be the easiest teams to get them against. Spot start options are the way to go instead of using the Anaheim starter.
- Derrek Lee continued his ownership of Jeff Suppan. Lee now has 22 hits in 51 at-bats against the Milwaukee starter, including five home runs. Lee has pounded the ball at home to the tune of .322 in 2009, but he has not had much success against Brewers not named Suppan. With those numbers included, he is still hitting under .235.
- Outside of one really bad outing against Seattle, Brett Tomko has been a solid pitcher since moving to Oakland. Not one part of that last sentence makes any logical sense. Tomko, though, is 4-1 over a six-start stretch. Last night, he worked a complete game against the Rangers, allowing just five hits and three walks.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka finally returns to the mound for the Red Sox. Matsuzaka has missed most of the season due to fatness, but will draw the first game of the series against the Angels. Owners should stay far away from this one. Even if he pitches well, the risk of a bad start far outweighs the reward.
- Do not be surprised to see Boston give Mike Lowell the night off against John Lackey. Lowell is only 3-for-19 against the starter. Jason Varitek is no better, and owners should keep him reserved where possible. Start your normal Red Sox otherwise. Look to J.D. Drew and David Ortiz. Drew is 5-for-16, and Ortiz is a .333 hitter. Victor Martinez has the best numbers at 10-for-21.
- There is concern expressed by Roy Oswalt about his ability to make his next start. Oswalt threw two horrific innings against the Braves last time out, but has always had the number of the Reds. He does not have a decision against them in three starts this season, but is a 20-game winner against them for his career.
- Robinson Tejeda has filled in admirably for the injured Gil Meche. Tejeda has not allowed a run in two September starts, striking out 14 batters in 11.1 innings of work. Tejeda's issues have always been control, but owners that need some strikeouts should look to him tonight against Detroit.
- Ubaldo Jimenez will make the start for Colorado tonight against the Giants. Jimenez had been bothered by a hamstring injury that forced the Rockies to push his start back a few days. Bengie Molina is only 3-for-20 against Jimenez, and both Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn are just 5-for-23.
- You might be surprised to find out that, individually, the Padres hit Dan Haren pretty well. Kevin Kouzmanoff is 7-for-22 with two home runs against Haren in his career. Nick Hundley has gone 5-for-12. These are deeper league plays, but there are some hits out there if needed.
- Scott Baker will make his fifth start this season against Cleveland tonight. He is 4-0 in 2009 with a 0.93 ERA and .139 BAA. Travis Hafner has good numbers against Baker, but there is not much else of which to speak. Deep leagues should look to Andy Marte, who is 3-for-10 with two home runs against Baker. Otherwise, avoid this matchup.
- Another matchup where you likely will not see J.J. Hardy. The shortstop has struggled against Carlos Zambrano. In 22 at-bats, he has just two hits. Look to use most of your Brewers as normal, but note that Zambrano has been much more effective in his two September starts than in the few leading up to it.
- Get Jason Kubel in the lineup against Fausto Carmona. Kubel is 10-for-23 with two home runs and eight RBI against the Cleveland pitcher. No major issues for your Twins otherwise here. Carmona has been awful on the road, posting an ERA over 8.00 in nine starts. He is also 0-2 against Minnesota in three starts with a 7.71 ERA.
- Spot Starters: Jeff Niemann, Tejeda, Jimenez
- Nick Blackburn is 1-3 against the Indians in 2009 with a 4.84 ERA. At home, batters are hitting over .300 against him, and he has only been able to post an ERA of 4.41 in 14 starts. He was roughed up by Oakland last time out. Get your Indians in the lineup for this one.
- Yes, Joe Blanton has been a nice surprise this season, but he has had a lot of problems pitching against the Nationals. In 20 innings and four starts against them this season, he is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA. He has given up six home runs and 28 hits to go with 14 walks. He was hit hard by Washington last week, and this is just not a good matchup to use.
- Clint Barnes is 0-for-12 and Brad Hawpe is just 3-for-25 against Matt Cain. Overall, the Rockies are only hitting .231 against Cain in 229 at-bats as a team. Use the Rockies you have no other options for, but outside of the 5-for-12 of Ryan Spilborghs, the numbers just are not good enough to reach.
- Doug Davis has mixed in two bad outings to go with eight respectable ones in his last 10 starts. Largely, you can set your watch to him working at least six innings and giving up three runs. Against San Diego, though, he is 2-0 this season with a 1.38 ERA in three starts. Good spot start in this one, even on the road.
- The name of the game for Braden Looper has been run support. He is 8-3 on the road, but has an ERA of 5.00 in 14 starts this season. The Cubs have not pounded him, but certainly look to use them as normal. The best numbers? Kosuke Fukudome is 6-for019 against Looper in his career.
- Spot Starts: Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jorge De La Rosa, Doug Davis