Dynasty League Review: Going Nuclear
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 went over my slumping superstar, blockbuster deals and why my team IS SO MEDIOCRE. This week, I’ll be going over the moves I’ve made (three blockbusters, one of which I already regret). 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.
MY TEAM IS MAYBE GOOD(?)! I went 2-0 this week scoring 260 points, thanks to my old pitchers absolutely shoving (86 points between Rich Hill and David Price who put up 25.1 IP, 27 K, 4 QS). Since Hill’s mediocre start on May 9th, he’s got a 31.7% K rate with three wins and a 1.07 WHIP in 30 IP. Small sample size as well, but so far this year he’s increased his ground-ball percentage by almost 10% and getting a ton more weak contact (42.8% hard contact in 2018, 33.3% in 2019 so far). The LOB rate is sure to come down at an unsustainable 88.8% on the season, but while he’s healthy he’s an ace. David Price is also an ace, and whoever was able to draft him this year in the seventh onward got a steal. With his velocity decreasing for a third straight year Price had to change how he pitched, and what better way than to lean onto his elite change-up more and more?
While his changeup produced elite results last year (22.7% usage and an 18.6% swinging strike rate) this year it’s on another level, sporting a 28.8% usage rate and a 22% swinging strike rate. He’s striking out a career-high 29.4% of batters and has lowered the number of fly balls he’s given up from 2018, which has often been a problem for him in Fenway.
My staff as a whole had a really good week. Andrew Heaney came back and quickly made owners remember why they drafted him in the first place (6 IP, 10 K, QS), but he has been damaged by the long ball so far this year, with 6 HRs in just 16 IP. While both his ERA and FIP don’t exactly paint a rosy picture so far this year (both above 5), his SIERA is a much better 2.35, showing just how small of a sample his season is so far. While I don’t think he will continue to strike out batters at a 41.8% clip, he should post rates above 30% while limiting walks. He just needs to find/start using his changeup more! To take the next step he needs to use his change more than 3.5% of the time, which has been the usage his two starts in June. When it’s on, boy oh boy is it a devastating pitch. I ended up picking up Tony Kemp who has been a decent little fill in while Jose Altuve has been out.
Thanks to Nick Pollack for this GIF!
This week I mad a big mistake. Big, BIG mistake. I tend to follow the philosophy that hitter prospects are a better bet than pitching prospects in almost every situation. Yordan Alvarez was as safe as they come this year, arguably the best fantasy prospect in the minors. He can do it all: hit for power, get on-base at a high clip, and shouldn’t strikeout too much. He’s what everyone looks for in a fantasy prospect. And I traded him.
|Blue Jays trades||Padres Trades|
|MiLB LF/1B Yordan Alvarez||MiLB SP Forrest Whitley|
|MiLB SP Eric Pardinho||MiLB SP Brent Honeywell|
|MiLB SP Jose Suarez||MiLB SP Sixto Sanchez|
|FK2 Tyler O’Neil|
Now, to be fair, this was before the news of Alvarez coming up. I had the idea they would a) call up Kyle Tucker first and b) not bring up Alvarez to only have him sent back down once everyone is healthy. He, of course, would go on to hit a home run in his second at bat, so this deal is going swimmingly. And to make matters worse, Honeywell broke a bone in his elbow and will be forced to miss another season.
I know this sort of deal isn’t won/lost in two weeks, but FRIG. In my eyes, I was getting three top-30 prospects in the pitchers while selling Alvarez. My main buy here was Whitley, as I thought it would be a good sell high/buy low with him as the buy low. I still buy him as a complete ace pitcher, but shoulder fatigue worries me a touch. Jeff Luhnow talked about Whitley recently and it was the main driver for me buying into him:
“The good news is the stuff still seems to be the same,” Luhnow said Friday. “The (velocity) is there. The spin is there. The pitch shapes are there. He’s not commanding it, he’s putting guys on base and allowing a lot of home runs. It’s a combination of probably the delivery, the pitch selection and a lot of different things that are going on. He’s had a bit of bad luck, too.”
I know it’s Luhnow’s job to talk up his star pitching prospect, but I believe him. Sixto Sanchez I don’t exactly love as a prospect, as he’s always had injury concerns, but he’s high on peoples’ boards and is relatively close to the MLB with the Miami Marlins. He’s never had great strikeout numbers in the minors, but scouts are higher on his stuff. He could potentially have three above-average pitches with above-average command, which could turn out to be a solid No. 2/3. Brent Honeywell is very disappointing, as I still see No. 2/3 stuff from him as well, but now we’ll have to wait even longer to find out. His patented screwball is a money pitch and he had a 29.3% strikeout rate in AAA in 2017. Thankfully while they were repairing the bone in his elbow, they checked in on his elbow to see how his UCL was holding up and by all accounts it had no additional damage, so it should be completely healed by 2020. Tyler O’Neil might be a classic AAAA guy—thrives against AAA pitching but struggles mightily against MLB. He hasn’t truly had a chance to prove himself in The Show, however, as his call-ups have tended to be on the shorter side and he’s sat quite often. I believe in my Canadian brethren quite a bit still, and think he could hit 40 bombs one day. Eric Pardinho was hard to move, but he’s still just 17 and has had injury issues this year. Jose Suarez started two games recently for the Angels, but both were lacklustre and showed he still has issues with his control.
|Blue Jays Trades||Giants Trades|
|3b Josh Donaldson||MiLB SP Matt Manning|
|FK2 OF Derek Fisher|
This is the biggest move to my major-league roster I’ve made yet. While Josh Donaldson hasn’t been AWFUL, he hasn’t been the injury-riddled superstar I expected. His strikeout rate is the highest it’s been since he broke into the MLB, his ISO is the lowest since 2012, and he’s hitting .237 with an above-average BABIP. Statcast sees a bit more of a bounce-back, thanks to an exit velocity that’s in the top 3% of the league, but even then his xSLG is only .443. So being able to move him for Matt Manning, who is an emerging ace in my eyes, was a no brainer. Manning this year has started to lean on his changeup more and more, and it’s starting to look like a legit pitch. He’s increased his strikeout rate to 31.5%, decreased his walk rate to 7.2%, and has been cruising in AA to the tune of 2.14 ERA (2.17 FIP). Fisher was icing on the cake in this deal, as I considered doing it with just Manning. Fisher has the unfortunate luck of calling himself part of the Houston Astros, so playing time will always be an issue unless he is moved. He might be another AAAA guy, but his tools are so loud I’m willing to hold him and see what I have.
Favourite Trade Not Mine: In a 30-team league, what do you think the cost of the second-best player in fantasy would be? In a league this deep, I consider having stars a major, major boost, especially one as good as Christian Yelich. So what did the Detroit Tigers go and do? TRADE FOR HIM.
|Tigers Trades||Twins Trades|
|FK1 Juan Soto||OF Christian Yelich|
|SP Clayton Kershaw||RP Brad Hand|
|OF AJ Pollock|
Ho-ly smokes. This is a helluva deal. The Twins, while acquiring the two oldest pieces in the deal here, are actually in a rebuilding stage and wanted Juan Soto to help usher in the New Twinkie Era. Soto started the year slow in terms of fantasy with JUST a .835 OPS in March/April but turned it on in May with a 1.127 OPS. Amazingly enough, that’s lower than Yelich’s full-season OPS of 1.191, which just goes to show how absolutely bonkers Yelich is. Losing Clayton Kershaw hurts the Tigers I think in the short-term this year, as he’s making a charge for the playoffs, but getting back Brad Hand will help offset some of the loss and allow him to start someone else at starting pitcher. AJ Pollock could be a good piece for the Twins to flip once he’s back and healthy, or he could continue being mediocre. WHO KNOWS. All I know is getting Yelich is an incredible get for the Tigers.
Best home OPS in literally the history of baseball in a season with min 100 PA: https://t.co/4lWYN9vppB
This does not include Yelich’s double and two walks today. It is just the most ridiculous thing. pic.twitter.com/yQzo5udc33
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 9, 2019
Favourite Waiver Wire Add: Zach Plesac – St Louis Cardinals – This is upsetting as I had a claim in for Plesac and the Cardinals were the team in front of me. UGH. Much like battery mate Shane Bieber, Plesac had impeccable control in the minors (0.45 BB/9 in AAA this year) and it has carried over to the majors with a 1.40 BB/9 so far. While he has been aided by a .235 BABIP and 91.6% LOB rate, he still has a 3.95 FIP, which is more than you can ask for for a waiver pickup in a 30-team league.
I did it. I officially blew up my team. My team went 1-1 this week, only scoring 206.5 points. David Price left me a nice farewell gift in the form of a 6 IP, 10K performance. Domingo Santana seems to be on another hot streak, as he has a .297/.381/.568 slash line in the month of June so far. His strikeout rate is still over 30%, which will always limit his ability in points leagues, but I’m gonna ride him while he’s hot. Francisco Lindor is doing Lindor things again, with a 1.224 OPS in June, and is up to 11 HR and 7 SB in the short time he’s been active. Felix Pena bit me in the ass this week with a -17.5 performance. I should stop starting him, but at this point I’m not sure who else to turn to. Statcast shows that his hard contact rate is some of the worst in the league, and he’s been fairly lucky so far (wOBA of .297 while his xwOBA is .341). His slider seems to be an elite pitch however, with a 46% whiff % and xwOBA of .242. He needs to start using it more and stop relying on his awful sinker.
This is what you’re all waiting for. I made some BLOCKBUSTERS this week, let me tell you. Deciding that it would be best for me this year to sell off keepers and try and consolidate into the best possible keepers I could, I targeted certain players I thought would have the chance to bounce back next year.
|Blue Jays Trades||Rockies Trades|
|SP Rich Hill||SP Noah Syndergaard|
|3B Travis Shaw||MiLB SP Jorge Guzman|
|MiLB SP Matt Manning|
OH BABY. I got one of my FAVOURITE pitchers in Noah Syndergaard, and even if he has seemingly lost his slider this year, he can’t lose it forever, right? RIGHT!? Ah well, I’m willing to take the risk because of his age, and his ability to still be a top-25 SP without his best weapon. His curve seems to have taken a step forward this year as well, allowing a xwOBA of .177 against and a 48.1% Whiff %. TINSTAAP, so as much as I hyped up Manning earlier I am more than willing to sell him in a deal for a proven ace. Hill has proven to be a reliable option when healthy for me, but he’s 65 and in dynasty has lower value than expected. Travis Shaw has had an awful year so far, and I honestly expect him to bounce back a bit. With Keston Hiura looming, however, I can see him turning into a bench option. Jorge Guzman is really nothing for me in this deal, and will be one of the first options to drop if I need. He might become a flame-throwing reliever, but command issues have plagued him so far.
|Blue Jays Trades||Tigers Trades|
|RP Blake Treinen||SP Mike Foltynewicz|
|RP Luke Jackson|
This deal made too much sense for me. Mike Foltynewicz probably had his career year last year, but coming into this year was hurt in spring training, so it’s quite possible he’s still shaking off some rust. Sadly though there are a lot of negative signs so far. Strikeout rate is down, walk rate is up, groun-dball rate down, his spin-rate on his slider is down over 100 rpm, hard contact rate is through the roof… yeesh. He has however started to lean on his slider more this year, which was his best pitch last year, so hopefully he starts to round into form more. Blake Treinen is also looking very worrisome, as since he’s come back from the elbow soreness he’s only got a 7.27 K/9 with a 4.41 FIP. Much like Foltynewicz, his spin rates are down on all of his pitches and he seems to have lost the control he found in 2018. It’s quite possible 2018 was the anomaly and this is the true Treinen. Jackson was the one I was more upset to move. He is ELITE. It’s too bad that he’s blown five saves already this year, as he’s in the top 2% of xwOBA, top 4% in K rate, and top 6% in xSLG. While his 3.09 ERA and 1.20 WHIP might not scream elite for a reliever, his .375 BABIP has been the cause for a lot of his issues. With a 70% (!) ground-ball rate, he can be expected to have a higher BABIP, but that should come down a bit.
|Blue Jays Trades||Yankees Trades|
|SP David Price||3B Jose Ramirez|
|FK2 1B Rowdy Tellez||MLB 16th|
|MiLB SP Sixto Sanchez|
This one I may end up regretting, but the chance to acquire a (maybe) superstar who was the THIRD OVERALL PICK in most drafts WHO’S ONLY 26-years-old was too good to pass up. Jose Ramirez is broken; something is wrong. It’s clear high fastballs are giving him trouble, and he’s been in a slump for four baseball months now. He STILL has an elite BB:K rate, even if it’s worse than his 2018 mark, and his Statcast data doesn’t seem too off from last year (other than the hard-hit rate). Of the players I’ve traded, I feel like Price will be the only one I hurt about moving. He is, however, quite old for a pitcher, and even if he’s learned to pitch with his velocity decrease, he still could break down soon. Rowdy Tellez has been in a pretty bad slump recently and it’s quite possible he’s sent down to AAA soon to work out the kinks. Sanchez could become something, but as I said above, TINSTAAP, and he has a long ways to go before become a massive strikeout pitcher. If Ramirez is truly a mediocre hitter now, so be it, but if he even returns to his 2017 form, this deal is a win for me, and not a small one.
Favourite Trade Not Mine: JD Martinez, even with his bad back, is still an elite hitter. But this week, he was moved for a PITTANCE. A PITTANCE I SAY!
|Cardinals Trades||Orioles Trades|
|1B Trey Mancini||OF JD Martinez|
|OF Stephen Piscotty||MiLB OF Heliot Ramos|
|MiLB Enyel De Los Santos|
Ahhhhh. This might be on the Mount Rushmore of RD lopsided trades. Barry, I love you. But your Baltimore Orioles fandom might be a tad too strong with this one. Trey Mancini has been pretty great this year though—dropping his ground-ball percentage by 14% helped him hit for more pop. His xSLG is .517, which isn’t too much lower than his actual slugging percentage, and playing in Camden Yards will always allow him to hit for power. Stephen Piscotty seems to always be the sort of player that is INCREDIBLY boring, yet always finds a way to be a productive third outfielder. His power is down quite a bit from his 2018, but he is still on pace for around 400 points. Enyel De Los Santos has been miserable in his small MLB sample, but this year in AAA he’s striking out 31% of batters, so it’s possible he could become a decent back of the rotation option for the Philadelphia Phillies if they want. Martinez is down across the board from his 2019, but even so, he has a wRC+ of 134—IN A BAD YEAR JDM IS OVER 30% BETTER THAN LEAGUE AVERAGE! His back might become a real issue for him, and he’s on the wrong side of 30, but this is one of the best hitters we’re talking about over the last five years. He’s SO valuable in a points format thanks to hitting for average, walking as much as he strikes out and the MASSIVE power. Heliot Ramos being included in the deal is the cherry on top, as he’s thrived in 2019 when not hurt, almost doubling his walk rate from 2018 and having a 188 wRC+ in A+ as a 19-year-old. He’s got TOOLS and could become a star.
Favourite Waiver Wire Add: Cheslor Cuthbert – Los Angeles Angels – Cuthbert has been picked up and dropped in most leagues this size a million times over the years. He’s always destroyed the PCL to the tune of .288/.352/.474, but this year he’s slugged .528, and he’s carried over to the MLB in his short time up. He’s hit 3 HR in 36 PA’s, and while it’s not likely to continue (2.8% walk rate, .364 BABIP) he is a hot-hand that could be something for a bit.
Extra Slack TL;DR
CONGRATS BEN ON THE BABY BOY! MAY HE NEVER INHERIT YOUR TEAM AND BEAT ME IN THE PLAYOFFS YEAR AFTER YEAR LIKE YOU!
(Photo by Bennett Cohen/Icon Sportswire)