Happy Friday, everyone! We're fresh off the Thursday slate which is always the shortest after Monday, but there was still some good action to dive into. Starting next week, we'll be moving this newsletter to three times per week -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For now, we roll forward and we'll start today's newsletter by discussing Spencer Strider's record-setting Thursday for the Braves!

Strider set the Braves record for most strikeouts in a single game with 16! He pitched eight shutout innings against the Rockies, and in addition to racking up 16 punchouts, he allowed just two hits and didn't walk a batter. He was in complete command in this one. He induced 22 swinging strikes on 106 pitches -- 15 on the slider and seven on the fastball. Just absurd stuff. 

This was the fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season for Strider who now improves to a 2.67 ERA on the season with 174 strikeouts through just 114 2/3 innings pitched. The question in my mind is no longer whether Strider is an SP2 heading into the 2023 season -- I'm thinking if he's an SP1 (top 12). With his strikeout upside, a strong case can be made. Strider struck out 13 Phillies, 12 Cardinals batters and nine Astros in recent starts. He's lighting up the entire league. And it's incredibly fun to watch.

We led off the Fantasy Baseball Today Podcast with Strider before going into so many topics, including our Week 23 preview.

We'll dive into more of the action from Thursday below, but first make sure you're all caught up on everything Scott White is doing over at CBSSports.com/Fantasy. Scott's recent waiver wire featured some of the hottest names on the minds of Fantasy Baseball managers right now, and you can find that here

Scott on Gunnar Henderson: "It was a stellar debut Wednesday for the prospect most publications consider the best in all of baseball. He connected on a 429-foot home run, going 2 for 4 overall, and had three batted balls of 97 mph or better. He also started at third base and figures to pick up eligibility at that particularly scarce position in short order. There's power. There's speed. There's on-base ability. Adding Henderson is a must in Rotisserie leagues, with the many lineup spots to fill, and of course, this sort of upside is worth pursuing in all formats. The possibility of him sitting against same-handed pitchers, though, might cause the slightest hesitation in the shallowest leagues."

Scott on Trevor Rogers: "Rogers returned from the IL Wednesday with his best start of the year, allowing one run in six innings with five strikeouts, which tells you a little something about the way his year has gone. It was only his second quality start in 20 chances. But coming on the heels of an absolutely dominant rehab start in which he no-hit a Triple-A lineup over six innings, striking out 12 on 24 swinging strikes, it's possible he's righted the ship. This guy was mentioned in the same breath as Shane McClanahan and Alek Manoah on Draft Day, let's not forget. He said the rehab start was the best he's felt all year and confirmed Wednesday that he used the down time to fix his mechanics. He's a gamble, but the upside is there."

Meneses mashing

If you're looking for some late-season help off the waiver wire, Joey Meneses might be that guy. He went 4 for 6 on Thursday and cracked the bat on his seventh homer -- a three-run walk-off shot. He had five hard hit balls in a single game and is now batting .354 with a 1.011 OPS. He's just 31% rostered despite having seven games next week. Is this sustainable? Maybe -- maybe not. But he's hot right now and why not try and ride that hot hand while it lasts?

Kershaw's return to the mound

Clayton Kershaw made his long-awaited return to the mound on Thursday. At first, it looked like it was going to be a nightmare start for the veteran ace. His first inning was a rough one and then he settled down. Kershaw ended up pitching five innings and allowed just one earned run, one hit and three walks with six strikeouts. The pitch mix and velocity were fine in this one. He now has a 2.59 ERA on the season through just 16 starts.

Who's hot

Kyle Bradish just delivered his second straight scoreless start and he's starting to flash a little of what made him such an exciting prospect. On Thursday, he delivered seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out five. He has racked up 15 consecutive scoreless innings. He's leaning away from his fastball and more into his slider and changeup -- and that's a really good thing.

Fantasy news, injuries and notes

For a complete recap of every injury, update and more, make sure you're locked into the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast where Frank, Scott and Chris dive deep into every player note. For the CliffsNotes version, we'll recap the biggest news and notes you need to know right here:

  • Tony Gonsolin's forearm strain isn't progressing as quickly as the Dodgers hoped. He'll go for an MRI on Friday.
  • Christian Yelich left Thursday's game with neck discomfort.
  • Anthony Rizzo could miss the entire weekend series with the Rays with that back injury.
  • Luis Robert left the White Sox and flew home to witness the birth of his child. He missed the previous five games due to a sore left wrist. 
  • Eloy Jimenez left Thursday's game due to right leg soreness. This is the third time in seven days that he's dealt with a leg issue. 
  • Carlos Carrasco will return Sunday to start against the Nationals. At least David Peterson will get to start Friday.
  • Nathan Eovaldi threw recently but isn't progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.
  • Tanner Houck was shut down from throwing Thursday and manager Alex Cora isn't sure Houck (back) will return by the end of the season.
  • The Mets announced that catcher prospect Francisco Alvarez has been diagnosed with a loose body in his right ankle but won't need surgery to address it.