Kevin Gausman Is Here to Be an Ace

There is nothing more valuable in a dynasty format than a legitimate fantasy ace. According to ESPN’s player rater, the three most valuable assets in 2015 were starting pitchers. They are not easy to find and more difficult to acquire, unless you can get your hands on them before they break out. They come in all shapes and sizes and often sneak up on us. Who was Jacob deGrom and why didn’t we see that coming? Who is that man wearing Jake Arrieta’s body? What is a Dallas Keuchel? How do we get our hands on the next one before it happens and we are left standing alone in the waiver wire cold?

I don’t know and if I did, this wouldn’t the be moment you’ve read something I’ve written for the first time. What I do know is that I, along with every other dynasty owner, spend all off-season searching for that guy. My search has been narrowed down to one. He comes with the pedigree and checks all of the boxes.

After being drafted 4th overall in 2012, Kevin Gausman flew through Baltimore’s system and made his major league debut in May of 2013, less than a year from the day he was drafted. What he didn’t do was dominate. He pitched to a 5.66 ERA in 20 appearances and was forced to start 2014 in the minors. We ranked him 131st overall in our 2014 overall rankings and that seemed appropriate. For reference, Gerrit Cole debuted in 2013 as well and ranked 39th before the 2014 season. The 2014 season didn’t do a whole lot to convince Gausman owners that they’d be collecting a return on their initial investment, as he pitched to 3.57 ERA in 20 starts, but the strikeouts weren’t there.

Prior to last year, Gausman’s ranking peaked at 100th overall in our rankings and it’s quite possible (and maybe a bit understandable) that the Gausman owner in your league was tired of waiting or willing to listen. If he was, he is more than likely still in the same boat.

Dominant right-handed starting pitchers tend to have several things in common. They throw hard, they get swings and misses, and they induce weak contact. Last year, Kevin Gausman displayed the characteristics of an ace. A league average strand rate and a couple of extra fly balls leaving the yard kept his ERA and ERA estimators up enough to hide his strengths from less savvy owners.

According to PITCHf/x, Gausman’s average four-seam fastball velocity in 2015 was the 8th hardest among pitchers who pitched 110 innings or more, tied with Matt Harvey and Carlos Martinez.

His 2015 swinging strike rate was 10.9 percent, 26th among pitchers who pitched as many innings or more. His zone contact rate of 83.8 percent tied for 10th best among pitchers in that same group. The list of right-handed starting pitchers in 2015 who had better swinging strike and zone contact rates than Gausman is short and pretty eye-opening, with the exception of one guy who should probably be in the bullpen: Max Scherzer, Chris Archer, Danny Salazar, Matt Harvey and Rubby de la Rosa.

According to Fangraphs’ soft-hit rate, Gausman induced soft contact on 23.5 percent of the balls he allowed in play. That was fourth best among pitchers who pitched 110 innings or more in 2015, behind Dallas Keuchel and in front of Jake Arrieta.

When it comes together like it did in his final start of 2015, you get this wonderful display of dominance.

I am all in on Kevin Gausman in 2016 and beyond. The mishandling of young pitchers in Baltimore is well-documented, but I think this one’s future is just too bright for them to wreck. This off-season could be your last shot with his frustrated owner and you may be able to acquire his services fairly cheaply.

Speculating on Vincent Velasquez

For dynasty leaguers, the offseason presents an excellent opportunity to acquire under-the-radar players before the fantasy pundits reveal their sleeper lists for the upcoming season. During the winter months, players can be improperly valued by your leaguemates for a variety of reasons, including poor surface stats, recency bias, and an uncertain role. Unfortunately, sometimes Jeff Lunhow single-handedly torpedoes your diabolical plan to take an undervalued asset off the unsuspecting hands of your leaguemate by shining a spotlight on one of your favorite sleepers. Today, we’re going to take a look at a player who meets (or met) all of the aforementioned criteria: Astros Phillies starting pitcher Vincent Velasquez.

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Grading the Unexpected Aces: Wacha, Liriano, Burnett, Martinez and Odorizzi

Let’s take a look at another batch of pitchers having great years despite low pre-season rankings. All of the pitchers below are currently ranked in the top 25 starting pitchers in baseball in 5×5 leagues. Are they flukes or can we expect them to continue pitching at an elite level?

Michael Wacha, Cardinals — 9-3 Record, 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 69 Strikeouts in 88.1 innings.

Wacha was not a low-ranked pitcher this offseason. In most rankings he sat in the 35-50 range among starting pitchers. But so far this season he has been a top-15 pitcher in 5×5 leagues. His 7.03 K/9 is a league average strikeout rate. His 2.04 BB/9 walk rate is better than average. Wacha has been a little bit lucky with the .262 BABIP that should rise up to the .295 range. The Cardinals are not a very good defensive team that can maintain his BABIP far below league average. Wacha’s home run rate is low again this year despite having a neutral ground ball profile. We should expect him to allow a few more homers as the season rolls along. His 3.61 xFIP and 3.76 SIERA point toward a bump in his 2.85 ERA, but I think we should continue to see Wacha perform very similarly to what he has done throughout his career. The Cardinals are a strong team who can provide Wacha with plenty of support from the offense and the bullpen, and they play in a strong pitcher’s park. Expect a slight drop in the winning percentage and a slight rise in the ERA and WHIP. We are looking at an above average but not elite pitcher in a great situation to succeed. Verdict: The Real Deal. Continue to roll with him. Trade for him if the price is reasonable. Continue reading

The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, Nos. 41-75

Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month  traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

We’ll continue the list with an underrated hurler who won’t stop putting up numbers despite a hideous delivery:

41) Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 83)

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Mike’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014

Bold predictions are fun. Instead of just being ‘high’ on a player, I can create an outlandish bold prediction to really profess my love for them. I got a little homesick editing these. Without even realizing it, my eleven bold predictions begin and end with my hometown Phillies. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

1. Ben Revere steals 50 bases and hits his first career home run.

It is a warm July day at Citizen’s Bank Park. Revere is in the midst of a career year, with 24 steals already on the season. He feels good today having eaten a second bowl of Wheaties before heading to the ballpark. He takes a first pitch fastball over the right field scoreboard to the surprise of everyone in attendance that day. ESPN home run tracker will call it “lucky”. Ben Revere will just call  it “awesome”. He flashes his trademark smile as he crosses home plate to put the Phils ahead 1-0.

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Craig’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014

11 Bold Predictions

You’re not here for intros. Here’s last year’s. Here’s the review of last year’s. Here’s this year’s train wreck:

1)      Michael Choice gets 400+ plate appearances

Mitch Moreland is playing through a might-be-tweaked oblique right now and I think Choice is good enough to hold on to the job if he can get a crack at it full time. Between his ability to rotate into the outfield corners and hit for power that would be functional in Oakland much less Texas, Choice should earn plenty of playing time. If he does, it’s fantasy gravy.

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#TDGX Recap — Team Kantecki’s First 10

By now, you are well aware that my TDG mates and I have been participating in an intense 40-round, first-year dynasty league draft called The Dynasty Guru Experts League. We’re already 34 rounds deep and the pickings are slim — we’ve recently entered the part of the draft where the CBS player universe doesn’t house all of the players we’d like to draft on our respective teams. I entered the draft with a plan to stick strictly to value, but, as you’ll see, sometimes you need to re-adjust your plan on the fly.

The first ten picks from Team Kantecki:

1.03 — Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went first and second, respectively, there wasn’t much debate at No 3. Miggy is a top-three dynasty selection no matter how you slice it. While he’s on the wrong side of 30 and will likely lose third-base eligibility after this year, Cabrera should still provide elite numbers for at least the next three seasons. Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen entered my thoughts briefly, but I couldn’t pass up the back-to-back American League MVP.

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