By Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com
Rookie pitchers have experienced a lot of success in Fantasy this season. Yordano Ventura was one of the few rookies who opened the year in the rotation, but he’s been joined by others as the year has progressed. Top prospects like Trevor Bauer and Kevin Gausman have each had moments of effectiveness, while the lesser-known Chase Whitley and Roenis Elias have also emerged as legitimate options.
The rookie who has shown the most promise, with the exception of Ventura, might be Marcus Stroman. After a brief failed trial as a reliever, the Blue Jays sent him back down to get stretched out. Since his return, Stroman has shown the skills that made him one of the team’s strongest prospects. Week 12 could present an opportunity for a big-time breakout.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays (42 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: At Yankees, Reds
An ill-timed stint as a reliever put Stroman out of Fantasy owner’s minds for a while. Stroman has always been a starter in the minors, and has been extremely successful in that role. The main reason he was considered a middle-of-the-pack prospect wasn’t due to performance, but more due to his size. Stroman measures 5’9’’, and there was some thought he would be better served in the pen. That hasn’t been the case. Since his return, Stroman has struck out 17 hitters and walked just two in 18 innings. He could be the next rookie star.
Players I would start him over: Phil Hughes, Trevor Bauer, Ian Kennedy (one start)
Tanner Roark, SP, Nationals (54 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: Home against Astros, Braves
There’s nothing flashy about Roark’s game. He relies on a solid two-seam fastball, which he commands well. Though the pitch doesn’t induce a lot of whiffs, he’s able to consistently spot it on the corners to get batters looking. His upside may be limited by his lack of strikeouts, but his overall skill set points to him being a solid pitcher. Keeping the ball on the ground and displaying strong control can go a long way, especially against two teams that haven’t hit that well this season.
Players I would start him over: Jonathon Niese, Jason Vargas, Marco Estrada (one start)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers (51 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: At Diamondbacks, Rockies
We see this every single year with Ramirez. He’s just not the type of player who performs well early. Thankfully, June is the month Ramirez typically gets his act together. Over his career, Ramirez’s wOBA — an advanced stat that measures offensive production — is .343 and .338 over the first two months. That’s good, but not great. In June, it jumps to a strong .361, before hitting the .380s over the last three months of the year. That .380 figure typically represents some of the finest hitters in a given year. There’s some concern over age limiting how much Ramirez plays, but he should produce when healthy, and he loves hitting in June.
Players I would start him over: Carlos Santana, Pablo Sandoval, Brett Lawrie
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins (57 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: Home against Cubs, Mets
There must be something in the water at Marlins Park. Despite being a strong pitcher’s park, the team’s home stadium has been an offensive haven for Miami. The entire team hits better there, and Ozuna is no exception. He’s hitting .313, with eight home runs, at home this season, compared to .219 on the road. It’s a small sample, keep that in mind if you want to be skeptical. There’s plenty of reason for that, as Ozuna’s approach isn’t the best. He doesn’t walk much, and tends to have a fairly high strikeout rate. Still, it’s hard to ignore the power he’s shown, particularly in a big stadium. He’s also facing some teams with less-than-stellar pitching.
Players I would start him over: Coco Crisp, Torii Hunter, Khris Davis
Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (26 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: Home against Brewers, Giants
If you need a cheap replacement at short, you could do worse than Owings. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but that’s what happens when you don’t have any elite skills. The one thing Owings does well is make contact, which will typically lead to a decent batting average. He’s also managed to slug five home runs and steal six bases. He’s no world-beater, but he’s a solid injury fill-in, with the potential to be more if he can adjust to life in the majors.
Players I would start him over: Andrelton Simmons, Derek Jeter, J.J. Hardy
Phil Hughes, SP, Twins (59 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: At Red Sox, home against White Sox
Hughes falls into the sit category again strictly based on matchups. A fly ball pitcher like Hughes isn’t a safe bet in Fenway Park, even if the Red Sox offense hasn’t been as feared as some expected. While he moves over to his friendly home park for his second start, the White Sox have actually been a fairly decent offensive team. There are better two-start guys than Hughes this week. Get him back into the lineup when he faces weaker opponents.
Players I would start instead: Tanner Roark, Drew Pomeranz, Josh Beckett (one start)
Jonathon Niese, SP, Mets (54 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: At Cardinals, Marlins
Somehow, the Marlins have become a legitimate offensive threat, especially when playing at home. That thought makes Niese’s second start seem a little shaky. Overall, he’s actually been better than expected, particularly after coming off some arm issues during the spring. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, though, and his overall stats could be muted this week. There are better options out there Week 12.
Players I would start instead: Marcus Stroman, Roenis Elias, Lance Lynn (one start)
Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics (58 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: Home against Rangers, Red Sox
It’s time to give up on Crisp hitting 20+ home runs again this year. Last season was great, but Crisp posted a 12.4 percent home run rate, the highest of his career. Now that his rate has dropped closer to his career average, it’s tough to expect another power outburst. That leaves Fantasy owners with a solid player who can score runs and steal bases, but diminishes Crisp’s overall value. Without the power, he goes back to being a useful asset, but not a full-time Fantasy starter.
Players I would start instead: Marcell Ozuna, Seth Smith, Marlon Byrd
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays (64 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: Home against Orioles, Astros
The other shoe seems to have dropped. After a strong first month, Jennings has seen his performance decline precipitously. Things have taken a slight turn for the better in June, but Jennings still isn’t hitting for any power. Signs of an early breakout have faded, and that turns Desmond into a part-time player who can get steals. He’s not providing enough elsewhere to be all that useful.
Players I would start instead: Brett Gardner, Billy Hamilton, Torii Hunter
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies (62 percent started Week 11)
Week 12 schedule: At Braves, Cardinals
The Ryan Howard of old isn’t coming back anytime soon. While it’s nice that he’s tied last year’s total with 11 home runs already, Howard has seen his slugging percentage decline to .414 this season. That figure would be the lowest of his career if he doesn’t start knocking a few more doubles. The massive strikeout rate continues to be an issue, and should keep his average in the .230s. He’s an all-or-nothing guy at this point.
Players I would start instead: Adam Lind, Mark Teixeira, Garrett Jones
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