Gnats of the Week: Week Eight

Your weekly rundown of the best worst players in baseball.

Welcome back to Gnats of the Week! It’s the series where I take everything that happened in Major League Baseball this week and single out the most brilliantly stupid performances to be enshrined in eternal (until next week) glory.

What is a gnat, you ask? Good question. Gnats are the little guys, the washed-up utilitymen, unheralded prospects, and unproven entities who seem to come out of nowhere to make their mark on a game. If you watch a lot of baseball (and if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet on it), then you know that this happens pretty much every day.

These players are delightful stories, unless, of course, they’re playing your team. Then they’re the most daggum irritating thing you’ve ever seen. That’s what makes them gnats; a truly beautiful phenomenon.

New this week from the Gnat News Bears: two new Yankee Killers, Folty’s revenge, and Free Willy comes home.

Honorable Mentions:


Third Runner-Up: Robbie Grossman

2-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB, 2 R, walk-off vs. Gerrit Cole, Yankees on Friday


If you subtract a May 17 start against the Rangers when he was lit up for five runs in as many frames, Gerrit Cole has thrown a total of 65.2 innings in 10 starts this season. In that time, there are just seven men who have scored an earned run on his watch; this includes Teoscar Hernandez (twice), Bo Bichette, Mike Zunino, Joey Wendle, Jose Ramirez, and Yordan Alvarez (twice). The seventh, as of Saturday morning, is Robbie Grossman.

Why does this matter? It doesn’t, of course, I just think it’s funny. Especially considering Grossman nearly single-handedly beat Cole’s Yankees on Friday, scoring the game’s first run as the initiator and beneficiary of three consecutive third-inning singles, then ended the game in the 10th with his first career walk-off blast.



For those who aren’t well-versed in the book of Grossman, he was drafted by the Pirates way back in 2008 and has been a perfectly mediocre player (~1.0 WAR per season) ever since. He’s primarily batting leadoff this year for the first time since 2014, because the Tigers are the sort of team that’s just bad enough to try batting Robbie Grossman leadoff. And believe it or not, it’s working.

But this game was undoubtedly a memorable one for Grossman, especially considering the circumstances of the walk-off: it came off Yankees reliever Justin Wilson, his first-ever roommate in pro ball with the Pirates. Awww.


Second Runner-Up: Mike Foltynewicz

7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 K vs. Astros on Sunday


Once upon a time, Mike Foltynewicz was the Houston Astros‘ ace of the future. Or at least, a surefire no. 2 behind Mark Appel (we know that worked out). Ironically, Folty in 2010 was among the first draftees in Houston’s four-year run of first-round picks that included Appel, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. He was seen as a high-upside flamethrowing starter at the time, with a floor as a potentially high-leverage reliever. None of those things happened with Houston.

Instead, after appearing in 16 games in 2014, he was traded to Atlanta in January of 2015 in the package for Evan Gattis. Foltynewicz immediately jumped to the top of the Braves’ prospect list, and he started 15 games for them as a rookie in 2015. By 2018 he was an All-Star, with a 2.85 ERA and nearly 10 K/9.

The rest of the story is well-documented, with command issues and a velo drop culminating in his Game 5 first-inning meltdown against the Cardinals that cost the Braves a trip to the NLCS in 2019. He was released last year and picked up by the Rangers in February. He’s looked a little better this season but still sported a 5.18 ERA through nine starts with 11 home runs allowed.

That was until last Sunday when he twirled an absolute gem against the team that drafted him. He finished with three hits and no runs allowed over seven innings in a game that the Rangers would ultimately win on a 10th-inning walk-off from Adolis Garcia. A performance like that is more than enough to earn the celebratory postgame cowboy hat!



It was the first scoreless start of any length for Folty since October of 2019 with the Braves, when he delivered seven shutout frames in Game 2 of that infamous series with the Cardinals. Hopefully, his future is closer to that start than the one that followed.


First Runner-Up: Alek Manoah

6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 K vs. Yankees on Thursday (MLB debut)


Yes, I know he’s a top prospect. But come on! Six shutout innings against the Yankees in your first taste of Big League action? If I’m Aaron Boone I’m positively livid. Only Rich Hill’s supposed to be able to do that.

Actually, I take that back. Alek Manoah earned this spot for what he did in the first inning alone on Thursday: after walking DJ LeMahieu on the first four pitches of his career, he came back to strike out Rougned Odor and Aaron Judge swinging before inducing an inning-ending flyout from Gleybar Torres. That takes guts, and it’s clearly enough to make momma proud:



Manoah wound up striking out seven on the day, with the only hints of damage in the next five innings consisting of two Miguel Andujar singles and one sixth-inning walk to Odor. He earned his first MLB nod from PitchingNinja in the process, and it was a beauty:



Congratulations, Alek, here’s to many more such starts against the Yankees in your future. Someone’s gotta do it.


GNAT OF THE WEEK: Willy Adames

4-5, 2B, HR, 4 RBI vs. Padres on Thursday


There is nothing more awesome than a guy who gets traded igniting into a whole new player with his new team, giving a big ol’ finger to the club that let him go. Whether that happens with Willy Adames on the Brewers remains to be seen, but he got off to a great start on Thursday.

Through his first 41 games with Tampa Bay this year, Adames was hitting just .197  with a brutal .625 OPS and a career-low wRC+ of 78. At this trajectory, he was in serious jeopardy of having the worst season of any Willy since Willy Garcia’s 2017 with the White Sox. With Taylor Walls and Wander Franco knocking on the door, the writing was on the wall.

But since the trade, Adames has stepped up with a .938 OPS and seven RBIs already in eight games with his new team. This resurgence peaked on Thursday when he went 4-5 against MLB’s best team by record, the San Diego Padres. He finished a triple away from the cycle with a first-inning double, a fifth-inning RBI single, and this monster three-run bomb that gave the Brew Crew the lead in the seventh:



If you were curious, that’s 108 miles per hour and 427 feet to left-center for his first home run as a Brewer. But the Padres didn’t give up quite yet, as they rallied to tie the game against Devin Williams in the eighth. And they would have retaken the lead, if not for this dart of a relay through from Adames that nailed Eric Hosmer at the plate, preserving the tie and allowing Milwaukee to win in 10.

For his sudden heroic efforts amid a larger pattern of general suckiness, Milwaukee Brewer legend Willy Adames proudly earns this week’s Gnat of the Week honors. Everyone should congratulate him. After all, we may not see feats like this again until the next time he’s traded.


Photos by Gerry Angus, Leslie Plaza Johnson & Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)

Wynn McDonald

Born a Kentuckian, much like Dan Uggla. Braves fan by choice, unlike Dan Uggla. I enjoy long walks on the Brandon Beachy. @twynstagram

5 responses to “Gnats of the Week: Week Eight”

  1. DB says:

    Clearly a Sawks fan due to no bio, the Manoah comments, and happiness that Adames doing well outside of the AL East. Future articles will be judged with this in mind.

    • Wynn McDonald says:

      Oh god no. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, though. I’ll do my best to hate the Sox and Yanks more equally in future posts

      • DB says:

        LOL, (sorry, I meant the last comment somewhat in jest.) O’s or Jays then? Bio’s help. I have no problem if a writer announces an affinity on a fantasy site and it colors their happy moments, as long as they don’t show animosity to other teams or they focus too deeply on THEIR team to the detriment of other coverage. That’s just me, but I’ve dropped a couple sites entirely recently because they’re just too focused on their top-of-the-masthead’s favorites. Fantasy players are looking for objective advice IME.

        • Wynn McDonald says:

          Braves actually, and yeah I’m up front about it but try not to let it sway content too much. I tend to let loose a bit for this column in the spirit of the bit, so really any high spending or elite team is fair game. I appreciate the advice though.

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