1. David Ortiz (DH, BOS) - Ortiz continued his white-hot start, belting two home runs to go along with a walk to raise his season line to an outstanding .405/.457/.726. Most impressive were that both were off lefty Tommy Milone, the first time in his career that he's homered twice off left-handed pitching in the same game. After looking like a platoon player from 2008-10, Ortiz responded with a .329/.423/.566 line against southpaws last year, doubling his walk rate while almost halving his strikeout rate and the dominance has continued into 2012. Showing no signs of decline at age 36, Ortiz remains a top option.
2. Jason Hammel (SP, BAL) - Hammel continued his hot start against the Yankees, allowing just an Eric Chavez two-run shot on five hits in six innings, striking out five against two walks. His groundball tendencies also continued, as only six of the 16 balls in play were in the air. Hammel doesn't have a strong track record, but his peripherals support his excellent start so far, making him worth a flyer. He draws the Red Sox in Fenway on Sunday.
3. Yu Darvish (SP, TEX) - Darvish delivered his second straight excellent start, surrendering only an Edwin Encarnacion home run on four hits with two walks, a hit batter and nine strikeouts in seven innings. He also registered 13 whiffs on his 97 pitches. Darvish struggled with command in his first three outings, but has now posted a 19/4 K/BB ratio in his last two starts spanning 15 1/3 innings against the high-powered Yankees and Blue Jays offenses. His command struggles were likely just an adjustment to the American game, as the dominance in the last two outings is what has been advertised and expected. He pitches next on Sunday in Cleveland.
4. Jeremy Hellickson (SP, TB) - Hellickson was excellent again against the Mariners, allowing only a Miguel Olivo home run on six hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking none. He also got 15 swings and misses on 97 pitches, including an incredible 11-of-30 changeups. Hellickson has always been able to prevent runs, but it has come with thoroughly mediocre peripherals in his major league career, so it was a refreshing change of pace to see him get it done the conventional way. The strikeouts and swinging strikes to go along with no walks may have been purely a function of facing the Mariners, but Hellickson has a very good minor league track record and pedigree, and is still well young enough to turn the corner. He'll pitch at home against the A's Saturday.
5. Clay Buchholz (SP, BOS) - Buchholz was close to coming through with a strong outing against the A's, but unraveled in the seventh to end up with a final line of six runs on seven hits (one home run) with five walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He was able to register five swinging strikes on 31 changeups and curveballs, but his fastball remained very hittable. It's worth wondering whether Buchholz is not fully healthy, as his 2011 season was cut short in June because of a stress fracture in his back. Despite a matchup with the Orioles on Sunday, Buchholz belongs on fantasy benches until he gets straightened out.
There are over 100 player news blurbs posted in the member area each morning. Members can read the rest of today's player news by clicking here. Not a member? Join today