Dynasty League Review—BACK ON TOP
Here at Pitcher List, we thought it would be fun to give the readers a look into the dynasty leagues of Pitcher List staff members. Two weeks ago, I talked about how you should never lose and my good-bad trade and answered your dynasty questions. This week, I talk about Reynaldo Lopez and his prospects to be a stellar second-half fantasy option, my superstars being superstars, and a possible waiver wire pickup that can change my outcome. Just as a point of reference, I go over free keepers and our MiLB system in my first dynasty post if you are unsure what some of the terms mean.
With the All-Star break finally coming, our league decided to make the half-week combine with the following week to make it a longer 11-day period. With this change came some massive points totals for a scoring period, with myself scoring 460.5, a league-high (WOOOOOO). It seems my team has flipped-flopped from being awful to being amazing every other week, which is not a great sign. But my team played up to its potential this week, and I think this could be my team for the foreseeable future.
Let’s start with the player last week I labelled as trading for a mistake. Lopez was absolutely incredible this week, shutting down the eighth- and the 12th-best teams according to wRC+ in the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays. He threw 13 innings in the two starts, combining for 15 strikeouts and only allowing two runs. So what has changed to make Lopez look VASTLY different than his previous self (6.34 ERA before the past two starts)? I’ll let Nick Pollack help us out there:
Can we talk about Reynaldo Lopez?
First 18 starts: 6.34 ERA, 86:38 K/BB in 98 IP – 95.3mph FB (26% CSW)
Last two starts: 1.38 ERA, 15:3 K/BB in 13 IP – 97mph FB 🔥 (32% CSW!)
Need a lottery pick for your team? Reynaldo Lopez might be your guy.
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) July 20, 2019
Alright, so Lopez is throwing harder and getting more swings and whiffs. He’s also allowing wors contact with it:
Reynaldo Lopez has a .261 xwOBA on 97+ MPH fastballs. He has a .353 xwOBA on fastballs < 97 MPH. He's average 97 MPH the last two games, up nearly 2 MPH from his season average.
— BatFlip Crazy (@batflipcrazy) July 23, 2019
For a complete shot in the dark, Lopez might actually be turning into the guy a lot of people dreamed could be. He vowed to be a different pitcher after the All-Star break, and so far, he’s keeping that promise. Will it continue? Who knows, but I’m glad to be on this ride now.
Speaking of ace-like performances, Noah Syndergaard is back, baby! Well, maybe. It’s hard to gauge based on two starts (against the lowly Miami Marlins and the surprisingly hot San Francisco Giants), but they’ve got me encouraged. Syndergaard has always had the stuff to survive without his slider, but it was the pitch that separated him from the rest of the pack. For the season, his slider percentage is at 11.8% as he just didn’t trust it earlier in the year. The past two starts? 18.1% and the highest it’s been all season at 25.9%! The sudden success of the pitch can be partially attributed to interim pitching coach Phil Regan, who helped Syndergaard by suggesting a mechanical fix and allowed it to regain its nasty bite. Tim Britton of The Athletic recently wrote about this tweak and found this:
Interim pitching coach Phil Regan explained that the Mets have tinkered with Syndergaard’s position on the mound. Out of the stretch, Syndergaard has closed his front foot a touch.
While it hasn’t regained all of the velocity it had from 2018, it’s better than it had been. He generated 34% swinging strikes with the slider in the past two games and should continue to rack up the strikeouts.
The last starting pitcher I will spotlight is Marcus Stroman, who keeps doing what he does best: getting ground balls, limiting home runs, and not getting run support. Alright, that last one isn’t his fault, but the 5-10 record is bringing down his point totals, and it’s not fair. He’s fully leaning into his slider, as evident by the 41.4% usage the past two games and is showcasing himself for a new team.
So far, the teams he’s been linked to are the New York Yankees (grosssssss), the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros, which would all be boons for his fantasy value as they should all be better sources for wins than the lowly Toronto Blue Jays. These three pitchers might be too late to buy but could help you massively down the stretch.
A surprisingly decent relief option for me the past couple of weeks has been David Phelps, who’s become one of the Blue Jays’ most reliable relievers. This period, he had four appearances, throwing five innings with five strikeouts and three holds. I don’t know if I fully believe the good fortune will continue, as he’s sporting a 3.63 FIP and his velocity is down 2.6 mph from his Marlins days. He could work his way to the closing gig, however, once Ken Giles is moved, so he might be a sneaky option.
As for my bats this period, they WENT OFF. Jose Ramirez is seemingly somewhat back, as since June 20 he’s slashed .320/.364/.609, good for a .975 OPS and a 147 wRC+. This isn’t the Ramirez of 2018, as his walk rate has been shaved down to a lowly 6.9% during this stretch, but he’s countered it by striking out just as infrequently (7.9%). He’s starting to look like 2018 power-wise though, as his hard-hit rate is up and his launch angle is at a more optimal spot.
Along with Ramirez, Jose Altuve had himself a decent period. While the profile still worries me a tad, he had the highest xwOBA since April at .363, along with the lowest average exit velocity at 83.5 mph. Will he continue to hit a ton of home runs? Probably not. But second base isn’t the deepest, and he can easily be a top-five option.
With the All-Star break being on, I felt this period I should make two trades: one selling and one buying. I’m weird, I know.
|Blue Jays Trade||Giants Trade|
|C Jason Castro||MiLB OF DJ Peters|
|MiLB Riley Pint|
This deal was all about DJ Peters. Pitcher List’s own Shelly Verougstraete got me onto DJ Peters, as his Pacific Coast League numbers stuck out to me, but I had my concerns about it being a hitters paradise. She pointed this out, however:
I know Gavin Lux is getting all the love but there is someone else killing it in OKC…DJ Peters!
What is most encouraging is BB% up to 16.3% and K% down to 21.7%…with SwSTK% at 12.9%
The Dodgers development team is so good! pic.twitter.com/9Gq0gxYSTu
— Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) July 20, 2019
That walk rate is SUPER encouraging. Peters has always had 70-grade power, but his strikeout rate (which hovered around 30% in the minors) held him back. If he can cut it down to even 25%, he has the potential to become an above-average corner outfielder. It more than likely won’t come with the Dodgers, however, as they have 15 outfielders. It’s quite possible he’s moved to help shore up the bullpen, however, and could be a good pickup for whoever gets him.
Riley Pint is more or less a dart throw, as he’s got amazing, amazing stuff. But he has absolutely no idea where it’s going as evident by his 31.8% walk rate this year. Maybe he figures something out between now and our MiLB draft in January and is worth rostering until then.
Jason Castro I really liked as a catcher, but with Mitch Garver absolutely destroying the ball, playing time was becoming an issue for him. He still hits the ball quite hard and is showing good plate discipline, but with Danny Jansen as my starting catcher, he was just sitting on my bench.
|Blue Jays Trade||Marlins Trade|
|MLB 14||MI Danny Santana|
This was a buy I wanted to make, even if I might be selling in two weeks. Danny Santana has been CRUSHING the ball in Texas this year, and the team is trying its hardest to get him playing time. With his super flexible position eligibility, he could become a stellar piece to me if I ever find a better first baseman (Austin Slater and Tyler White were not cutting it).
With the playing time increase, it’s quite possible that he will become exposed, as someone with a 4.6% walk rate is going to struggle to put up the numbers he has for a full season. At the cost of a one-round downgrade, however, I will take it.
Favorite Trade Other Than Mine
Not many trades were made during this long period, but one deal stood out above the rest:
|Rockies Trade||Reds Trade|
|OF Mitch Haniger||MiLB 1B Josh Naylor|
|OF Dexter Fowler||OF Alex Gordon|
|SP Brett Anderson||FK2 Jake Faria|
|SP Mike Leake|
I really like this deal for the Reds, as I think Mitch Haniger is by far the best player in the deal. Even with a ruptured testicle and in a down year, he’s producing a 107 wRC+, and part of his hitting woes can be attributed to a low .257 BABIP.
Dexter Fowler has been serviceable this year as well, with a 102 wRC+. His decent OBP helps in points leagues, and he is a perfect bench option to have for depth.
Brett Anderson is starting, I guess, and hasn’t been awful with a 3.82 ERA but is striking no one out. Don’t trust him.
Josh Naylor has yet to fully break into his raw power, but the bat is advanced enough that if it never does he should still be a decent first baseman.
Alex Gordon bounced back this year from his dreadful 2018, hitting for more power and lowering his strikeout rate. I don’t trust him to be too decent for the future but not a bad outfielder to have in a 30-teamer.
Jake Faria showed potential in his first call up to MLB, but injury and bad production have marred him since. He’s been used mostly as a reliever this year, and he hasn’t done amazing, with a 4.28 FIP in Triple-A.
Mike Leake is a perfect back-of-the-rotation guy in a league this deep. He will never be someone you WANT to start but can reliably trust to score 300-plus points. Hell, he almost threw a no-hitter last week!
Favorite Waiver Wire Add: Jose Urquidy, Toronto Blue Jays
Thank God CBS had his name different (I believe it was Jose Hernandez before he was officially called up). While his first two starts were semi-bad (seven earned runs in six innings pitched, he got BABIP’d to death vs. the Angels but was still able to strike out four versus the toughest team to strike out. Then, in his most recent start, he threw an absolute gem against the Rangers, with seven shutout innings with just two hits and NINE strikeouts. The Astros are currently hurting for some rotation pieces, so Urquidy has earned himself another start, and hopefully he’ll showcase the strikeout ability he’s shown in Triple-A this year (30.4% strikeout rate).
To end my dynasty review articles from now on, I will be answering questions related to dynasty! If you have any for the future feel free to comment or ask me on Twitter or even on Reddit! This week, I got a question from Elton asking about a move he’s made:
I’m in my fourth year of a dynasty league rebuild. I recently traded Matt Chapman, who costs $9 (we have a $500 budget) and is cost-controlled, meaning it’ll be several years still before he receives a significant raise, for Jarred Kelenic. My goal is to have all the Mariners prospects, and I also feel like Kelenic will easily be better than Chapman the second he debuts, but also he’ll be like $15 cheaper by that time. I could use that savings to get someone like Tim Beckham at auction. So how do you think I did on this trade?
Well, Elton, I must admit, I don’t exactly love it for you. Chapman has proven himself to be a top-10 (maybe potentially top five) dynasty third baseman and has increased his walk rate while decreasing his strikeout rate this year. He could be becoming the next Josh Donaldson and should post many 30-home run seasons in the future.
However, I ADORE Kelenic. As a 19-year-old, he destroyed Single-A this year with a 178 wRC+, which was second in all of Single-A. He has a bright future ahead of him with the Mariners and could be up as early as late 2020. I do consider third base to have a lot more decent options than other positions long-term, and you should be able to get one back at a decent price.
(Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire)