Josh Jung, 3B (TEX)
Sometimes it takes time. Jung hit a home run in his major league debut. He recorded a hit in seven of his first eight games, but since Sept. 16, the 24-year-old slugger has two hits in 19 at-bats with nine strikeouts. Aggressiveness can be a good thing for a young player with Jung's power, but too much aggressiveness? Well, it leads to striking out half of his plate appearances. Meanwhile, he hasn't yet walked at the major league level. Yeah. In 51 plate appearances, ball four hasn't come across once. This, despite a 11.5% walk rate at AAA last season. Learning to hit at the major league level is hard. And sometimes it takes time.
Hayden Wesneski, SP (CHC)
Wesneski dominated another bad offense on Thursday. After holding the Rockies to one run in seven innings last week, Wesneski limited the Pirates to two runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out six batters in the outing, including an immaculate inning in the 5th. He finished the game inducing 12 whiffs, five of which came on his emerging cutter. The Cubs seem to have found something with the Yankees acquisition, who features five pitches, four of which move in different directions. He wasn't particularly dominant at the AAA level, but he did flash strikeout potential and can generate a lot of ground balls. A few tweaks and a weaker division have Wesneski's long-term prognosis in a much better place than it was before the midseason trade.
Kyle Bradish, SP (BAL)
Well, the Astros are never going to want to see Kyle Bradish again. His two best games this season have come against Houston. After shutting the Astros down on two hits in eight innings on Aug. 26, Bradish one-upped that performance on Thursday, falling one out short of a complete game shutout. He had only allowed one baserunner over his first 27 batters faced before Jeremy Pena singled with two outs in the 9th, bringing the tying run to the plate. The Orioles went to closer Felix Bautista, who finished off the shutout. Bradish's final line: 8.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. It was the second double-digit strikeout performance of his young career, first since May 10. He depended heavily on his slider and curveball, leaning much less on his mid-90's 4-seam fastball. Bradish's xFIP is a clean 3.89 and he should be monitored in spring training.
George Kirby, SP (SEA)
Kirby navigated trouble in the first two innings before collapsing in the 3rd, allowing allowing the first four batters of the inning to reach before leaving the game after allowing four runs (a fifth charged to him after his departure) on seven hits and an uncharacteristic three walks in 2.1 innings. Known for his incredible control, Kirby hadn't allowed more than one walk in an appearance prior to Thursday's blowup. In fact, the rookie had been on a nice run recently, having allowed only four earned runs in his previous five appearances. That makes Thursday's poor performance, highlighted by a velocity dip, less concerning. However, he is up to 120 innings at the major league level as well as an extra 26.2 innings in the minors. That eclipses last year's total by 79 innings. The Mariners tried to manage his workload this season, but there's no way to avoid the uncharted territory he is currently in. He will be a risky play in his final start or two but remains a high-floor option in dynasty leagues and looking ahead to 2023.
Lars Nootbar, OF (STL)
After a stretch of solid production in late August, Nootbar has been ice cold, but on Thursday he reemerged, hitting his 13th home run and reaching base three times in four plate appearances. After four seasons in the minor leagues without displaying a lot of power, Nootbar found his home run stroke with the Cardinals this year, posting a .219 ISO, supported by a 91.5-mph average exit velocity, 45.5% hard-hit rate and double-digit barrel rate. Meanwhile, he is continuing to do what he did well in the minors: walk often and strike out infrequently. The Cardinals will have some decisions to make in their outfield next season, but Nootbar should be a starter somewhere. If he earns that role, he should be owned in all fantasy formats.
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