Upton rediscovers April magic
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Let's check in on which players have been driving fantasy owners' success and which ones have been driving us mad recently in this week's edition of "Who's Hot, Who's Not."

(All stats as of Wednesday, Aug. 7)

Who's Hot

Hitters

Justin Upton, LF, Atlanta Braves - Upton must think it's April again, because he hasn't looked this good since the season's inaugural month. In the first seven games of August, Upton has hit .467 with five homers, 12 RBI and a 1.563 OPS. He hit four homers combined from the start of May to the end of July.

Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates - Five straight two-hit games has McCutchen's average up to .312 for the season, his highest mark since the second game of the year. The Pirates superstar has slashed his strikeout rate from 19.6 percent to 14.9 percent and raised his line-drive rate from 21.9 percent to 24.6 percent from last season, so his high average has been less dependant on good luck on balls in play than last year.

Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels - It seemed impossible to think Trout could get better from his otherworldly rookie season, but that's exactly what he has done. Trout, who just turned 22 Wednesday, has lowered his strikeout rate from 21.8 percent to 16.7 percent and raised his walk rate from 10.5 percent to 13 percent since 2012, and he's produced a .333/.424/.580 line, 20 homers, 70 RBI, 80 runs and 24 steals. The phenom has a .645 on-base percentage in August and is batting .402 with a 1.256 OPS over his last 30 games.

Kendrys Morales, 1B, Seattle Mariners - Morales is 15-for-30 (.500) in August and 41-for-107 (.383) with six homers over his last 26 games. He struck out in just 12.2 percent of his plate appearances during that span.

Robbie Grossman, OF, Houston Astros - Since being recalled in the last week of July after spending two months in the minors, Grossman has hit safely in all 10 of his games and recorded a .472/.525/.806 slash with three homers and nine RBI in 36 at-bats. That's one more home run than he had in 70 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this season. The rookie only slugged .387 in 2,165 minor league at-bats, but he did post a 14.3 percent walk rate and a .381 OBP in that span while swiping 103 bases. With Justin Maxwell traded to Kansas City, Grossman is guaranteed a starting spot.

Other: Martin Prado (26-for-63, eight 2B, two HR, 14 RBI, 1/8 K/BB last 17 games); Adrian Beltre (18-for-40, three HR, 12 RBI last 10 games); Adam Jones (12-for-24, one HR, five RBI last six games)

Pitchers

Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins - Fernandez has been so good recently that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria must already be dreaming of the day he can sell him off for low-priced assets. The 21-year-old fireballer has been fantastic all season, but he really threw his hat in the ring for NL Rookie of the Year with his last two performances. First, the rookie struck out 13 batters in eight innings against the Pirates on July 28 and he followed that up with 14 K in eight innings against the Indians last week. He walked a total of one batter in those starts and is 6-2 with a 1.67 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 over his last 11 turns.

Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers - The frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award should have the support of traditionalists -- he's 16-1 with a 2.85 ERA -- and sabermetricians -- he has a 2.72 FIP and a 10.11 K/9 -- alike. In three starts since losing his only game of the year July 13 against the Rangers, Scherzer has gone 3-0 and permitted a total of eight hits and two runs in 21 2/3 innings (18/2 K/BB, 0.83 ERA).

Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets - When I heard that Harvey's shutout Wednesday against the Rockies was the first of his career, I was shocked; I assumed he already had several. He did throw nine scoreless innings of one-hit baseball with 12 strikeouts and zero walks on May 7 against the White Sox, but the Mets didn't score a run until the bottom of the 10th. In four outings since starting the All-Star Game, Harvey has allowed three earned runs on 17 hits and posted a 31/1 K/BB in 29 2/3 innings.

Other: David Price (5-1, 1.57 ERA, 40/1 K/BB last seven starts); Yu Darvish (3-1, 1.37 ERA, 35 K in 26 1/3 IP last four starts); Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.71 ERA, 24 K in 21 IP last three starts)

Who's Not

Hitters

Josh Hamilton, RF, Los Angeles Angels - Hamilton owners have to realize it is time to concede defeat; it just isn't going to happen for this guy this year. He has started off August 2-for-26 (.077) with seven strikeouts in seven games after showing some minor signs of life at the end of July.

Josh Reddick, RF, Oakland Athletics - Ditto for Reddick, who is 0-for-17 with six K over his last six games and hitting .203 with five homers on the year. Since the 2012 All-Star break, Reddick has hit .209 with 135 strikeouts in 573 at-bats over 155 games.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants - The Kung Fu Panda has been tamed since he went on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his left foot in mid-June. Since returning, he has hit .217 with a .600 OPS and one home run in 38 games. He's an ugly 3-for-28(.107) with zero extra-base hits and no RBI in August and his OPS for the season is under .700.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals - During a 3-for-26 (.115) slump, Zimmerman's average has dropped 12 points and his OPS is down 33. An increase in strikeout rate explains why Zimmerman's average is down from .282 to .269 since last season, and that has come with a drop in extra-base hit rate from 9.7 percent to 7.9 percent. The Nats third baseman has just five extra-base hits in his last 35 games.

Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox - Napoli is currently second in the majors in a category nobody aspires to lead: strikeouts. The husky first baseman has fanned 19 times during a 5-for-42 (.119) slump over his last 12 games and 147 times in 384 at-bats this season.

Other: Nick Franklin (1-for-28, 12 K last six games); Marco Scutaro (3-for-25 last six games); Asdrubal Cabrera (6-for-45, 12 K last 11 games)

Pitchers

Jorge De La Rosa, LHP, Colorado Rockies - De La Rosa went 0-1 with an 8.00 ERA and a 2.22 WHIP over his last two starts, both of which came on the road. The Rockies left-hander is an impressive 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.31 HR/9 at Coors Field this season, but just 4-5 wit ha 3.84 ERA and a 0.74 HR/9 on the road.

Ryan Dempster, RHP, Boston Red Sox - The AL has been unkind to Dempster in the right-hander's first full season in the Junior Circuit. He has allowed 12 earned runs on 16 hits in 12 innings over his last two starts and is 6-8 with a 4.67 ERA, a 4.78 FIP, a 4.13 BB/9 and a career worst 1.49 HR/9.

Andy Pettitte, LHP, New York Yankees - Pettitte is finding out that a player in never too old to experience something for the first time. In his career, Pettitte has never had a losing record -- his worst W-L percentage was .500 (14-14) in 2008 -- but he's on the verge of doing that this year at age 41 barring an extreme shift in performance. After allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings Monday against the White Sox, Pettitte dropped to 7-9 with a 4.71 ERA. The lefty has an ERA of 5.64 since mid-June.

Other: Jeremy Hellickson (0-2, 9.00 ERA last two starts); Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 10.00 ERA last two starts); Phil Hughes (0-2, 6.41 ERA last four starts)




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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