Matt Vierling, OF (DET)
Vierling hit a home run on Thursday, only his second since June 16, but he contributed to the Tigers eight-run outburst with two runs and four RBI's. He also recorded his first stolen base since July 4th. Vierling profiles in the mold of Christian Yelich and Yandy Diaz as a player that has a powerful ball-to-bat approach with solid contact but could do well to add a little more launch to his swing. Right now his launch angle is measuring around 7.6 degrees on average which explains his 4% barrel rate. That's why his overall numbers are mediocre. There is enough skill to improve those mediocre numbers, and there's a good chance the Tigers will give him that opportunity with consistent playing time next season. There is some sleeper potential in 2024, especially considering he will qualify at 3B and OF.
Reese Olson, SP (DET)
Olson delivered his third consecutive quality start on Thursday, holding the Reds offense to one run on two hits in six innings while striking out seven. He managed to avoid major trouble by allowing four free passes, especially considering he gave up a home run that was only a solo shot. After a stretch of control issues, Olson had improved over his past two starts before Thursday's setback. Nonetheless, he lowered his ERA to 4.30 while his xFIP remains 4.03. The rookie has a really intriguing arsenal that he has refined throughout the season, but his lack of consistency will cause concern during next season's drafts. If he matures and perfects his control heading into 2024, he offers plenty of upside as a late-round pitching target.
Kodai Senga, SP (NYM)
Senga was dominant on Thursday, shutting the Diamondbacks out for six innings, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out 10. It was his third double-digit strikeout performance in his last four starts. The 30-year-old rookie lowered his ERA to 2.95 as he makes a late-season push to try and topple Corbin Carroll's stranglehold on the National League Rookie of the Year award. In a season that has been an utter debacle for the Mets, Senga has been one of the brightest developments utilizing three pitches with a ton of movement, including a forkball that is basically unhittable. We'll see how a full major league season impacts his stamina and durability moving forward, but he should be considered one of the top strikeout targets in next year's drafts.
Tanner Houck, SP (BOS)
In his 18th appearance of the season, Houck delivered his best start of the year, holding the Yankees scoreless in six innings while striking out seven batters. He allowed four hits and three walks but managed to pull his ERA under 5.00. Meanwhile, his xFIP is below 4.00 as Houck has suffered from a low LOB-rate and suddenly-high HR/FB rate, nearly 10 percentage points higher than recent seasons. What worked on Thursday? A noticeable bump to his velocity. Houck was hitting the mid-90's consistently on his sinking fastball while his slider sat about 10 miles per hour slower than his heater. He finished the game with a 31% CSW-rate, including 13 whiffs on his slider, which was clearly his go-to pitch. Houck's inconsistencies and injury battles have dirtied his once-intriguing fantasy prospects, but he is still only 27 years only with about a season-and-a-half's worth of innings under his belt. The door certainly isn't closed yet.
Mitch Keller, SP (PIT)
Keller rebounded from an abysmal outing at Atlanta last week, delivering one of his best starts of the season on Thursday. He shut the Nationals out for eight innings, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out seven. Going from the Braves to the Nats is one way to turn your fortunes around, but other than the start in Atlanta, Keller has been pretty good since a mid-season skid. The 27-year-old still seems to be reckoning with a velocity peak that oscillates from start to start. The good news is he doesn't need to necessarily hit that peak, high-90's velocity to be effective. Some of his best starts, like Thursday, have come when his velo is actually down. Keller's effectiveness is based on his pitch mix and ability to move the ball in and out of the strike zone. He still seems to be figuring that out, but his 3.72 xFIP is more indicative of his overall skill set. He is a worthy SP3 with the potential to climb even higher in 2024.
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