Dynasty League Review: Hot Potato
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 the pain of moving a budding superstar, being mediocrely good and moving out some old geezers. This week, more trades, a young stud who’s been tearing the cover off the ball and a prospect I will be digging into more. 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.
Let me start off this week’s League Review by discussing an issue I find myself having lately. I love to trade. It’s a problem, and I enjoy the rush you get when pulling a trigger. I’ve found I tend to win more trades than I lose, however that hasn’t necessarily been the case for me lately. Rather than hold onto some players, I have been flipping them trying to get better. Sometimes it works (Blake Treinen has been awful for the most part, and is now hurt) but sometimes it doesn’t (YORDAN ALVAREZ I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU). I think a good lesson to learn in a league this deep is to really evaluate your roster and don’t make deals unless you think it will really help you.
Another 1-1 week didn’t help me fully decide what to do yet. Being just one game back of the second wildcard, I think I could make a run in the playoffs. Luis Severino coming back would be the ultimate deadline acquisition for me, and I think Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Andrew Heaney could push my team throughout the playoffs if I acquire a cheap SP option. This week I was one of the top scoring teams, getting 266.5 points. If it weren’t for a MASSIVE performance by Trevor Bauer (9 IP, 8 K, CGSO, 36.5 points) I would probably have gone 2-0 and been right in the thick of things.
I don’t know if anyone other than Jays fans has noticed, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been MASHING. He was recalled on May 24th, and since then he’s slashed .326/.376/.672, with 10 HRs and even a stolen base to boot. He’s performed better than he should be according to his xwOBA, but he’s improved his launch angle from 2018 and the power looks real. He seems to be able to hit anything in the zone with power and should be a stellar option at MI for home runs. It also helps he has 2B, SS and OF eligibility, so he can be used all over.
Ho hum, another week of Tommy Pham walking more than striking out and being an all-around badass. Pham, while he doesn’t exactly hit for the most power, is still an elite option in points leagues thanks to an OBP that’s 7th in all of baseball. More than likely a 20/20 finisher when this season is over, he has only been incredible since coming to Tampa Bay and the Cardinals will regret moving him for a long time. Finally, Domingo Santana is still somehow underrated. Yes, he strikes out close to 30% of the time. However, it’s looking more and more like his 2018 was the outlier, as he’s hitting .283/.350/.505 with 17 HRs and 5 SB. Statcast loves what he’s doing, with his xSLG in the 92nd percentile, xBA in the 79th percentile, hard hit % 83rd percentile, and xwOBA 89th percentile. He will always be streaky thanks to the strikeout rate, but when he’s hot, he’s on FIRE.
Slow week for me, only ONE trade. It was a doozy, however, and I think my strategy or going “stars and scrubs” strategy is SUPER hard to do in a league this large. I feel like I can acquire some cheaper pieces, and only having 10 keepers makes this easier in the end.
|Blue Jays trade||Cardinals Trade|
|FK1 OF Jesse Winker||OF J.D. Martinez|
|SP Mike Foltynewicz||MiLB 7th|
|FK2 Touki Toussaint|
This deal hurt my soul. My boy, Jesse Winker, will always hold a close spot to my heart. Up until this trade, Winker was going through quite the slump and has seen his walk rate drop a ton this year (from 14.7% to 9.0%) which was one of the main reasons I compared him to Votto in the off-season. He still also has quite pronounced platoon splits, as he’s hitting .171/.256/.171 against lefties in 2019. Since the deal, he’s proceeded to hit the crap out of the ball. He will always have the potential to be elite, but he is going to have to start showing it consistently soon. Mike Foltynewicz has been an enigma this year. His slider, having lost two inches of movement, has been destroyed. Without his main weapon, everything else has been worse, and he was recently demoted to AAA to work out his issues. With the Braves having a billion arms ready to enter the rotation at any time (and Dallas Keuchel reemerging soon), Folty is going to have to fix his issues quickly before he’s left behind. I must say, I bought low on him two weeks ago, and I’m glad I got out from him quickly. I still believe in Touki Toussaint as a starter, but it’s hard to say what the Braves feel. Of all the arms they have, his profile does seem to fit the reliever profile better than the rest of the young arms, and it’s possible his command issues will always plague him. His xwOBA is 50 points lower than his wOBA, so he has been fairly unlucky so far this year. The strikeouts aren’t there, but they will be eventually. Finally, the big bat: JD Martinez may always have back issues, and he’s on the wrong side of 30. I don’t care, he’s an ELITE ELITE ELITE bat. For the next couple of years, I expect to start him and his .300/.370/.530 slash while hitting 35+ home runs. As long as his back doesn’t give out, I love my studs.
Favourite Trade Not Mine: Nothing major this week, however with the Phillies now having Luke Weaver, Carlos Carrasco, and Jameson Taillon hurt (and soon to have Frankie Montas suspended), he really needed to make a move for a starter.
|Phillies Trade||Dodgers Trade|
|MiLB SS Luis Garcia (PHI)||SP Tanner Roark|
|MiLB 3B Kevin Maitan|
|OF Nick Williams|
This is the perfect move for the Phillies. They traded away some depth for an alright starter who has more upside than people are willing to give him. Tanner Roark so far this year has a 3.41 FIP, 23.3% strikeout rate, which his seventh starter isn’t too bad. However, he’s only allowing a (nice) 0.69 HR/9 in GAB. That’s bound to raise, and with it, his ERA as well. Luis Garcia is having a rough year in A ball, but it’s worth remembering he’s one of the youngest players in the league. His walk rate is an above average 10% and he should eventually grow into some more pop. Nick Williams may never again get the chance to be a full-time outfielder if he couldn’t grab the reigns with Odubel Herrera being out, and it might be time to drop him completely. Same with Kevin Maitan, who will go down as one of the bigger IFA signing busts.
Favourite Waiver Wire Add: Jordan Yamamoto – Houston Astros. One of the lesser pieces of the Christian Yelich deal was Jordan Yamamoto, who profiles as a back of the rotation starter. While his fastball might be below average, the other three pitches profile as average to above-average. Combine that with plus command and Yamamoto might be sneaky as a decent No. 4-5 on a fantasy staff. He probably doesn’t profile as better than a 4.00 ERA, but you start him at home when he’s there.
Another 1-1 week, and this time I feel like I got lucky versus the Phillies, the team I beat. Perennially a championship squad, he had an unfortunate week thanks to Diego Castillo (-18.5 points). While my offense carried my team, my pitching was quite bad, as Andrew Heaney, Matt Wisler, and Jeremy Jeffress combined for -20.5 points. This is an issue I will more than likely have going forward, as I tend to roster a lot of pop-up relievers that aren’t always super reliable. I added a couple of last roster spot guys in Brad Miller and Nick Kingham, who I’ll be talking about later on.
This week may have been the return of Jose Ramirez. As small of a sample I will be quoting, it’s still worth remembering that Ramirez has been generally awful this year, and this is encouraging. From June 14th onward, he’s slashing .319/.377/.532 with only a 1.9% strikeout rate in 53 plate appearances. Thanks to supporter Alex Tran on the Discord (which everyone should join if you haven’t!), who pointed out that his O-Swing % has gone up while his strikeout rate has gone down. Ramirez has elite contact skills so this might be a good thing; however, it still gives me pause in believing he’s completely turned it around.
This week Marcus Stroman tantalized us again by throwing his slider more than his sinker for both starts. Against the Angels (who never strikeout), he wasn’t as successful, but against the Red Sox, he registered a 14.4% swinging strike percentage, which was his second highest for a start this year. His highest swinging strike percentage start was against the Athletics on April 26th, in which he also threw his slider more than his sinker. It wouldn’t be crazy to think Stroman has started to realize his slider/cutter is his best weapon, and see him start to strike out a few more batters. There’s also the chance he’s moved to a more analytically inclined club and he really takes off.
It’s nice to finally have Jose Altuve back, and even if this wasn’t the highest scoring return for him, my core now consists of Jose Altuve/Jose Ramirez/Francisco Lindor/JD Martinez/Tommy Pham/Noah Syndergaard/Luis Severino, which is a fairly young and superstar-ish set of players. In an even-smaller-than-Ramirez sample, Altuve is crushing the ball since returning from injury, with half of his batted balls being hard hit. His strikeout rate is a tad high, but as long as he’s hitting for power, owners won’t complain too much.
I didn’t make any trades this week cause I’M BORING. I’m also running out of pieces I’d be willing to move. I should probably keep some prospects and/or depth pieces in case I want to compete.
Favourite Trades Not Mine: The Diamondbacks have made a lot of shrewd moves this year like trading for breakout Lucas Giolito and acquiring Kevin Kiermaier for a small price, and this week he made another move that helps him.
|Diamondbacks Trade||Padres Trade|
|3B Kevin Cron||SP Tyler Chatwood|
|MiLB 4th||MiLB 1st|
|MLB 16th||MLB 12th|
If Kevin Cron were a minor-eligible player this deal wouldn’t be so bad, but it was a big gamble for the Padres to take with a player who’s generally been a AAAA player. This year he seems to have found another gear, but was recently sent back to AAA. The MiLB first-round pick + MLB 12th-round pick are both very valuable in this league, as in the off-season they are popular trade chips for teams that have too many keepers and need to offload some players. The Diamondbacks have set themselves up well to either keep the picks and build up the farm/team or use them to acquire better keepers. Tyler Chatwood is waiver fodder and is nothing more at this point. The Padres weren’t done there though.
|White Sox Trade||Padres Trade|
|MiLB 3B Colton Welker||3B Maikel Franco|
|SP Kevin Gausman|
This deal is interesting for both sides. Maikel Franco has been given every chance to live up to his potential and hasn’t been able to sustain prolonged success. He started this year hot, but since the start of May, he has a 30 wRC+. Yes, that’s right, 30. When you lower the number of plate appearances needed to 100 he’s got the lowest wRC+, just beating Yonder Alonso‘s 31 wRC+. Kevin Gausman is a tad more intriguing though. While he’s currently on the IL with Plantar Fasciitis and had a 6.21 ERA, he’s been unlucky this year. He’s currently sporting a swinging strike percentage 2.6% higher than his career average (10.8% and 13.4% this year) and this is thanks to upping his splitter usage to close to 40%. He’s a decent buy-low guy and I can see why the White Sox did. Colton Welker only hits though, and he could become a staple of Coors Field. It won’t be at the hot corner with Nolan Arenado locked up there, and his bat might be a tad light for first base. They’ve got a plethora of infield options, so it’s possible Welker gets moved and his value drops.
Favourite Waiver Wire Add: Nick Kingham – Pittsburgh Pirates. I originally had Nick Kingham last week, but decided to drop him after he gave up a home run with his first pitch as a Jay. And I might regret that. Since coming over from Pittsburgh, Kingham has slowly phased out his awful sinker for his cutter and fastball, which in his last outing allowed him to go two innings with three strikeouts against a scary Boston lineup. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ken Giles is moved, and Kingham could be groomed for a closer role or a fireman type of role, which is still very valuable.
Thanks for reading everyone! Starting next week I will be taking questions to answer at the bottom of this review about Dynasty, so if you have a question feel free to comment here, reach me on Twitter or Reddit, or if you’re in the Discord hit me up there!
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)