Mookie Betts, OF (LAD)
Ronald Acuna is still very much the front-runner in the race for National League MVP, but with a month-and-a-half of the season remaining, there are still opportunities for several other players to wrestle the trophy away. Two of them are on the Dodgers. Freddie Freeman had two hits to raise his batting average to .339 on Wednesday while Mookie Betts had three hits and scored four runs. Betts trails only Acuna and Freeman for the lead in runs scored. However, he has more home runs than either of them, and despite hitting leadoff, he is on pace to drive in 100 runs for the first time since 2017. It has been an incredible season for the Dodgers outfielder, who is likely to surpass his career high in home runs while hitting the ball harder than ever. Betts' extraordinary quality of contact justifies his improvements in BABIP and HR/FB ratios. His consistently superb batting EYE further justifies a return to a batting average near .300. He may be fourth in the MVP conversation right now, but with plenty of baseball still to be played, there is long-shot money to be spent on the 30-year-old superstar.
Spencer Torkelson, 1B (DET)
Torkelson led a potent Tigers offense on Wednesday, hitting two of the team's four home runs en route to an 8-7 win at Minnesota. Torkelson now has 21 home runs, including six in his last seven games. He is starting to deliver on the excellent peripheral stats that he has displayed all season. Like quality of contact: 92.5-mph average exit velocity, 52% hard-hit rate. Or plate discipline: 9.5% walk rate, 9.9% swinging-strike rate and 78.4% contact rate. He is only hitting .230, but now his isolated power is over .200 and his slugging percentage is .431. He's starting to come around. It was particularly impressive to see his two home runs come off breaking pitches, which has been his Achilles heel throughout his first two major league seasons. If he starts hitting non-fastballs out of the park, his numbers will quickly resemble those of other first-overall draft pick power hitters.
Randy Vasquez, SP (NYY)
Vasquez got the start on Wednesday, his first official start since July 5. He gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in 3.1 innings while striking out three. The Yankees fell below .500 as Atlanta pitching shut them down 2-0. It's no crime to give up a couple runs to the best offense in baseball, but walks continue to be a problem for the 24 year old. Vasquez has now given up three walks in three of his five major league appearances. Because he hasn't yet been able to strike out batters like he has at the minor league level (he only induced three swinging strikes on Wednesday), the walks just cause too much trouble. He has some intriguing long-term potential with a good mix of pitches, some impressive velocity and extensive professional experience, but he isn't very enticing for the rest of this season while he refines his arsenal at the major league level.
Paul Blackburn, SP (OAK)
Blackburn polished off his best start of the season, holding the Cardinals scoreless in seven innings. The veteran right-hander allowed six hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. It was his second scoreless outing in his past three appearances as he lowered his ERA to 4.09. One of the few bright spots for the A's this season, Blackburn mixes in at least five different pitches, allowing his offspeed options to thrive. Opposing hitters are only hitting .156 against his curveball as he has shown the ability to thrive when he can locate the pitch. When he can't, he needs to rely more on his heater, which is much less effective. It's always a bit of a gamble streaming a pitcher like Blackburn who has limited opportunities to win on a bad team and can get blown up even by poor offenses, but in a roto league he has shown an ability to post decent numbers.
Tylor Megill, SP (NYM)
Megill picked up his first win in exactly two months, holding the Pirates to two runs in five innings, although he gave up five hits and four walks while striking out five. Seemingly secure in his return to the Mets rotation, the young right-hander struggled with command but displayed very good velocity, hitting 98 miles per hour on his 4-seamer while holding his changeup down to the mid-80's. That solid 10-mph delta between his fastball and changeup is a huge reason why he finished with 16 swinging strikes and a 32% CSW rate on Wednesday. It has been a disappointing follow-up to his encouraging rookie year, but the door isn't closed on Megill. His pitch mix is very good. He just needs to refine it and improve his command. He is worth using as a streamer against weaker offenses.
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