Gunnar Henderson (SS-BAL) went 2-4 with a solo blast against Toronto on Friday evening. The 21 year-old has held his own in his first taste of big-league action, logging a .333 average with 2 dingers, 10 RBI, and a steal across his first 58 plate appearances. Henderson hasn't fanned much (21%) even though that was an issue at times in the minors (he did strike out at a 26% clip across 295 PA at the Triple-A level before his promotion) and his trademark ability to take free passes (13% in the aforementioned Triple-A stint) hasn't quite manifested yet (7%). But he's hitting the ball with authority (49% hard-hit rate per Statcast) while not whiffing much (swinging-strike rate under 9%) and making contact at a respectable 79% clip. It's a fine start to a big-league career.
Jesus Luzardo (SP-MIA) did not factor into the decision against the Nationals on Friday evening as he allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk while fanning 6 over 6 innings of work. The southpaw fired 58 of his 97 offerings for strikes and allowed a solo blast in the outing. The 24 year-old has largely been effective when healthy this season, as he now claims a 3.75 ERA to go with a 10 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 3.48 xFIP over 15 starts (81.2 IP). He's missing plenty of bats (14% swinging-strike rate), not allowing lots of contact (70%), and keeping the hard contact to a modest 35% rate per Statcast while improving his control (BB/9 was 4.5 last season). He lines up to face the Cubs at home next week; the Cubs rank 20th in the majors in team OPS (.702), so it's not at all a bad spot in which to run him out there.
Matt Manning (SP-DET) dazzled against the White Sox on Friday evening as he fired 7 innings of shutout ball in which he scattered 3 hits, walked none, and fanned 5 while throwing 59 of his 87 pitches for strikes. The 24 year-old now owns a 3.28 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 4.17 xFIP across 11 starts (57.2 IP) on the year. He's now recorded 5 quality starts in 9 chances since returning from the IL in early August, with a clunker against Seattle on August 30th (2.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 1 K) the biggest blemish on his season of improvement. While the overall stat line above might not jump off the page at anyone, it represents significant growth from his 2021 rookie campaign (5.80 ERA, 6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 5.13 xFIP over 85.1 IP). In addition to showing improved control, Manning is missing more bats (10% swinging-strike rate, up from 7%) while cutting his contact rate from 85% to 81% and allowing significantly less hard contact (down to 34% from 41% per Statcast). While he won't finish with the flashiest stat line, there's reason to think he could emerge as a mid-rotation arm for fantasy in 2023. For now, he's a matchup by matchup play, and he is slated to face Baltimore on the road next week. Manning has performed worse on the road (18.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 3 BB/9, 4.49 xFIP) so it might be for the best to not start him there.
Bailey Ober (SP-MIN) returned from the IL after missing two-and-a-half months because of a groin strain to blank Cleveland over 5 innings in which he allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 5. He tossed 47 of his 70 pitches for strikes in the outing. The 27 year-old has been effective when in action this season, as he owns a 3.49 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, and 4.40 xFIP across 8 starts (38.2 IP). His track record indicates that the stellar control is legitimate, although the strikeout rate may be a touch on the low side, even if his stuff is underwhelming. Ober misses enough bats (13% swinging-strike rate) and generally limits contact (75%) while keeping the hard contact to a modest 34% clip, so one should not hesitate to start him in Kansas City against the woeful Royals next week.
Wade Miley (SP-CHC) is an interesting DFS or streamer option on Saturday as he will take on the Rockies at home. The 35 year-old southpaw has not pitched much in 2022, as he has made just 6 starts in which he's recorded a 2.89 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 4.03 xFIP across 28 IP. So, there is some risk there given his limited strikeout ability (7.1 K/9 career) and the gap between his ERA and xFIP, but the context is favorable as the Rockies rank #29 in the majors in team OPS on the road this season (.624), as opposed to ranking #2 at home (.808). Colorado does rank #6 in team OPS against lefties (.779) as opposed to #19 (.692) against righties, but the team has been amazingly mediocre overall at the dish (#17 with a .696 OPS) since the All-Star break. For his part, Miley has enjoyed pitching at Wrigley this season (4 starts (22 IP), 2.45 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 2 .1 BB/9, 3.26 xFIP).
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