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What To Do About: Back of the Rotation Prospects

Inspired by watching the Orioles absolutely hammer Anthony Ranaudo on Tuesday, and Brandon Workman on Wednesday, I thought it might be useful to look at the real value of back end rotation prospects in dynasty leagues.*

*My actual inspiration is and always will be Ben Carsley. It’s the eyes.

We’re already at a disadvantage as we have no say in whether they start or reliever and are subject to the whims of the organization in which the prospects is part of. Where that organization is on the win curve will dictate a lot of their actions, as the Twins may have a longer leash on Trevor May than the Dodgers would for Zach Lee in 2015 (assuming Zach Lee isn’t just a figment of our collective imaginations).

As a fantasy writer, we tend to promote some of these guys as safe, but the reality is that while the risk might not be as big in terms of reaching their ceilings, what happens when they don’t often makes them extremely risky propositions in themselves. If you’re in on Justin Nicolino as a 4th starter, the question becomes “what is he at his 70th percentile outcome?” and the answer becomes “not fantasy relevant.”

Think of the names that were once valued as prospects beyond those already mentioned:

Dan Straily
Casey Kelly
Jesse Biddle
Matt Barnes
J.R. Graham
Tony Cingrani
Tyler Thornburg
Drew Pomeranz
Randall Delgado
Brad Peacock
Joe Wieland
Robbie Erlin
Wade Davis

This is just to name a few current/past prospects who have seen themselves turn into something other than the surefire #4 rotation piece we thought they’d be — or alternatively took a long time to get there. Development can be a bumpy process, especially at the major league level. Depending on where you are on your win-curve, hoarding these guys makes some sense. Not only should they provide value in the short-term, some will take significant steps forward, as we saw a guy like Mike Minor do on his trip through the minors or Jake Odorizzi do by learning a new pitch. Still, depending on where you are on the win curve, trading these assets while they’re still highly thought of for major league value is often a winning proposition. Often, you’ll be able to get immediate value in addition to re-purchasing on a post-hype guy later on, as many were able to do with Jake Arrieta.

Sure, it’s going to hurt everytime you move an Odorizzi who appears to be a 4th starter and he turns into a strikeout machine, but you’re going to win more of these types of trades than you’ll lose when dealing with non-potential top-of-the-rotation types.

The Author

Craig Goldstein

Craig Goldstein


  1. […] strong command of a deep arsenal to outwit hitters. He’s one of those high-floor safety guys that Craig railed about recently. In deeper leagues with longer-term salary structures for homegrown talent there’s some value in […]

  2. October 24, 2014 at 3:02 am

    […] to dump him while the dumping’s good. Appel doesn’t quite fit the mold of the back-end prospect Craig recently wrote about, but he’s also not likely to develop into a number one starter, and certainly not in the next […]

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