We're midway through Week 12 and some pitchers are starting to cross the 10-win mark. The more prolific sluggers are approaching and surpassing 20 HR, too, and so it seems like as good a time as ever to take the temperature of some of our favorites so far this year at RotoBaller. Some of these guys were top-tier draft-day talents and some were middle-of-the-road roster-filler types, while others have been real surprises. How you proceed with any of these players will depend on your league and format, but feel free to drop us a line in our real-time chat or leave a comment below!
Yadier Molina (C, STL) Molina is not just one of the best catchers in baseball, but he is also turning into one of the best hitters, as well. He has a .355/.396/.887 triple-slash on the season, and very rarely does he strike out, as indicated by his 25 strikeouts in 248-at-bats. He has developed into a top-tier option at a very thin position.
Max Scherzer (P, DET) Scherzer just became the first pitcher to start a season 10-0 since Roger Clemens accomplished the feat in 1997. He is a strikeout machine, and he has a history of getting better as the season progresses. On the season, he has struck out 116 batters in 96 innings, while only walking 24 with a WHIP of 0.91-- just filthy numbers, good for 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The opposition is hitting just .189 against him. He dealt with some dead arm toward the end of 2012, but that was after a very strong second half, so expect Scherzer to continue to contribute.
Matt Harvey (P, NYM) Harvey is continuing his dominating start; his latest victim was the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. He took a no-hitter into the seventh and struck out 13 over seven quality innings. He has an ERA of 2.16 to go along with 116 punch outs in 104 innings pitched. There is no question that we are watching a truly great pitcher evolve in real time. The only potential issue is the workload on a young arm, but he made it up to 170 IP in 2012 between the minors and the Mets without experiencing much difficulty toward the end of the season.
Patrick Corbin (P, ARI) Corbin is still stuck at nine wins, but don’t let that fool you that he might be coming back to earth. He had allowed nine runs in his previous three starts, but in his most recent start he just allowed two runs on two hits in eight innings of work. He has 2.28 ERA and he is holding opposing batters to a .212 batting average, and lefties look confused against him, with a .141 average.
Travis Wood (P, CHC) Wood is one of the nice surprises for the struggling Cubs this season. He pitches to contact and stays out of opposing hitters' hot zones. He has lost his last three decisions, but this is more due to him facing the best three teams in the NL Central division than to any defect in his skills. Wood has a 2.74 ERA and is holding lefties to a batting average of just .143 on the season. He might have trouble picking up Wins, but don't let that deter you from acquiring this young up-and-comer.
Jason Grilli (P, PIT) Grilli is the best reliever in baseball, and has yet to blow a save opportunity in 25 chances. He has a 0.88 ERA along with 51 strikeouts in 30.2 innings, and a ridiculous strikeout rate of 15 per nine innings. The opposition just has a .157 batting average against him. It's probably too late to buy on Grilli, but if you invested wisely on draft day, enjoy the dividends. You might consider selling high, as the 88% strand rate will likely come down, but even so, with his strikeout numbers, it needn't come down that much, so make sure you get back a lot if you decide to deal Grilli.
Josh Donaldson (3B, OAK) - Donaldson is emerging as the best power threat for Oakland besides Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss. He has a .303/.370/.870 triple-slash on the season along with 10 HR and 43 RBI. He is going through a slump right now, evidences by the .200 average in his last 45 at-bats, but don't let that deter you. Even with the recent struggles, Donaldson is absolutely crushing left-handed pitching this season with a .354 average. So if he is facing a lefty, get him active in any format.
Edwin Encarnacion (3B/1B, TOR) Encarnacion is one of the reasons that the Blue Jays have been playing better baseball as of late. He still shows the power that was evident last season, as indicated by his 19 HR and 58 RBI. Edwin is hitting very well with runners in scoring position, as indicated by his .338 batting average in 65 at-bats this season. His value has skyrocketed of late, as he recently gained eligibility at 3B in most formats, making him a top option at a very thin position.
Jesse Crain (P, CHW) Crain is one of those players that is having a great season on a really bad team, in his case, the struggling White Sox. Crain has 0.57 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched, and a WHIP of 0.97 along with 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He is holding opponents to a .190 batting average, and he is extremely tough on right-handed batters, who are hitting just .172 in 64 at-bats against him this season. If anything happens at the back end of that bullpen either by trade or by injury, Crain could certainly be an option to close out games.
Drew Smyly (P, DET) Smyly would be one of the options Jim Leyland can use if Valverde continues to struggle in closing out games. He has a 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings this season and has only walked 12 batters. He is holding opposing batters to a .199 batting average on the year, and left-handed batters have no success against him, as indicated by their .119 average. He is good lefty reliever, and is worth a look if this is a need for your team. In his most recent performance, he earned a three-inning save, indicating that he might be stretching out for a rotation spot. Whether it be as a potential closer or a back-of-the-rotation starter, Smyly makes a strong case to be added to fantasy squads.
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