Andrew McCutchen (OF, Pit): McCutchen has had a vexing season, but he was on point in Thursday's contest, launching two solo home runs as part of a 15-3 thrashing of the Phillies. He finished 3-5 with three runs and three RBI. Despite hitting second or third in the Pirates lineup all season, he's sitting at only 75 runs and 66 RBI, and his on base percentage has seen a huge collapse this year, which can be blamed at least in part for the low run total. Cutch hasn't had a season with an OBP lower than .400 since 2011 when it was .364, but this year he's put up a career-low .331 OBP. The 10% walk rate is indeed the lowest mark of his career, over 4% lower than it was just a year ago. His K% is also the highest it's ever been, now over 22%. While those rates aren't bad for your standard player, they're not the superstar rates we've come to expect from Cutch. Overall, he really just isn't the superstar he once was, either. He's only 6-13 in stolen base attempts, which tells us that that part of his game is quickly leaving. At this point we're looking at a low-to-mid 20's home run hitter with no more steal appeal than most fantasy commodities and a mediocre batting average. He may still be overdrafted next year just because of his name value, but the numbers show him as nothing more than a mid-round draft pick.
Jerad Eickhoff (SP, Phi): Eickhoff was done in by the long ball on Thursday, giving up four homers to a variety of Pirates. He only allowed three earned runs, though another three runs were unearned, in his six and two-thirds innings of work. He also struck out five without walking a batter, but it was far from enough to keep him from dropping his 14th game of the year as he falls to 10-14 with a 3.74 ERA. He really flashed some potential in 2015, tossing 51 innings with a 2.65 ERA, and while he hasn't pitched to that level this year, he's been a very nice addition to the Phillies rotation. His control has been very good at 2.00 BB/9, and while he has not approached the strikeout per inning territory he was in last year, his 7.39 K/9 is around league average, making him a solid back-end rotation starter for fantasy purposes. Homers haven't been a huge issue all year like they were in this one, but his 1.30 HR/9 rate is something that he can hopefully improve upon as he heads into his third season in 2017. He'll take on the White Sox at home in an interleague matchup next time, and follow that up with a friendly start on the road against the Braves as the season wraps up.
Keon Broxton (OF, Mil): Broxton hit his ninth home run of the year out of the two-hole for the Brewers, and that would be his only hit of the night as he finished 1-4 with the solo shot and a strikeout. He's been up and down this year between the Brewers and Triple-A, and does have an intriguing fantasy skillset, with a tantalizing blend of power and speed. He has amassed 17 home runs and 40 steals across the two levels this season, but it has come at a cost. His 30% strikeout rate across both levels (36% at the MLB level) will prevent him from ever having a batting average that is even mediocre. He draws plenty of walks, which is how he has managed a .349 OBP despite a .238 average this year, putting him in the vein of a Joc Pederson type fantasy entity, but with considerably more speed (and less power). He's got a terrific 41% hard contact rate, and with speed to burn he should be able to maintain high BABIP's throughout his career. His current .367 mark is still pretty pie in the sky for a maintainable rate though. The bottom line here is that he's definitely a player to keep an eye on moving forward, and with the Brewers not expecting to be competitive in 2017, he could see even more run next year. He's at the very least worth a look due to his stolen base abilities, but if he can manage to cut the strikeouts by making more contact, he could be a fantasy monster.
Jorge Soler (OF, ChC): Soler went 1-4 with his 12th home run of the season, taking Jimmy Nelson deep. It's been a frustrating season for Soler, who missed much of the year with an injury and hasn't shown much development while on the field. He's kept a similar strikeout rate from a year ago, which is not a good thing, as he sits around 25%. He has managed to improve his walk rate to a rather impressive 11%, which is more in line with what he accomplished in the minor leagues. He needs to make more consistent contact if he wants to be an every day asset though; he's got a 14.5% swinging strike rate and 68% contact rate that just won't get it done as a starter. He has shown a better eye at the plate, which has shown through in his improved walk rate. He's done this by swinging at fewer balls out of the strike zone, and swinging at 4% fewer pitches in general, exercising patience and seeing more pitches. He's still only 24 and is a solid dynasty commodity, but his progression has been slowed this year by injury. The Cubs probably won't put themselves in a position to rely on him next year, so playing time may be hard to come by, but don't forget about Soler in the sea of talent the Cubs have amassed.
Archie Bradley (SP, Ari): Bradley put up a quality start against the Dodgers, giving up three earned runs over six innings on nine hits and two walks, recording seven strikeouts. Bradley has been pretty terrible this season, sitting with a 5.07 ERA over 22 Major League starts. He has maintained a strong 8.57 K/9, but has walked far too many batters to be effective, with a 4.29 BB/9. Once a highly regarded prospect, Bradley has really never been able to control his pitches, and that has continually been his biggest problem. You simply can't walk that many hitters and expect to be a successful starter. He also has failed to develop his changeup, instead he continues to rely upon his fastball and curve primarily. However, according to Brooks Baseball he has recently begun to work in a sinker, which to this point has generated an obscene number of ground balls. That could help him neutralize lefties at least a little bit and generate some soft contact. Keep an eye on his usage of that pitch over the final starts of the year, and if it brings him some success, that's a reason to be optimistic on him in 2017.
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