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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Starting Pitchers, #31-60

Despite a scorching hot stove (I can’t believe the player you’re thinking of did or did not sign with the team you thought they would!), January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally). But fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2019 consensus rankings by looking at our 31-60 dynasty starting pitchers.

31. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 10)

Martinez falls from last year’s rankings quite a bit due to a campaign filled with injury and an end of the season switch to the bullpen. He’s still young, has been an elite starter before, and now that he’s healthy will go back to being the Cardinals Ace. There is a lot of upside here for close to 200 Ks, strong ratios, and above average wins for a good Cardinals team. Just be wary that with the Cardinals pitching depth he could easily get switched back to the bullpen if he struggles with injury again. He could be used in a similar fashion as Dodgers use Kenta Maeda. (Kyler Jesanis)

32. Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 34)

Even after missing all of 2018, Honeywell still moves up our list. What does that tell you about the state of dynasty pitching? Honeywell is a great prospect to invest in for his combination of floor and ceiling. Given the quality and depth of his repertoire, he is unlikely to be less than an SP4 and has the ceiling of an SP2 in fantasy leagues. While he is a Ray, he seems unlikely to fall prey to the Opener as he has the stuff to get through an order 3 times. Don’t fall for prospect fatigue or overstate the difficulties of coming back from Tommy John; Honeywell is a great target. (Kyler Jesanis)

33. Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 51)

Are you looking for more ceiling than Honeywell offers? Sixto is your guy. He has premium easy velocity in the mold of Noah Syndergaard, two off-speed pitches that project to be plus in his curve and change, and an average slider that gives his repertoire depth. Add that all in with a great athlete that should have good command and control, and the upside here is someone who could be a fixture in our top 10 for a long time. What’s not to love? Well, his size is not ideal at just 6’0″, but it shouldn’t concern us too much in fantasy as the stuff is good enough to start (he’s a similar size to Carlos Martinez). He also has injury concerns, as he has yet to throw 100 innings in a season and only threw 47 in 2018 while battling elbow issues. Our resident injury expert, Dr. Mike Tanner, has said he is all but a lock to have Tommy John. So Sixto isn’t for the faint of heart as it could be a while until he pays dividends. The trade to the Marlins portends to him being healthy at the moment, which is a positive. The potential outcomes for Sixto are a perennial SP1, a high strikeout SP3 who you can only count on for 120-150 innings a year, or succumbs to injuries enough that he transitions to the bullpen and becomes an easy top 5 reliever. Other than needing patience, where’s the downside in those outcomes? Sixto is the best Sanchez to play baseball since Pablo! (Kyler Jesanis)

34. Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 32)

Kopech is going to miss all of 2019, and only falls two spots? Again, see the landscape for dynasty starters. Good things come to those who wait, and Kopech is worth waiting for. His Triple-A numbers last year were very fantasy friendly, and while the surface numbers don’t look great he showed a lot of promise in his MLB debut. When he comes back, he is likely to be a high WHIP, high strikeout SP3 with upside for a bit more if his command develops. If you’re rebuilding, he’s a great buy low. (Kyler Jesanis)

35. Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 28)

Reyes has only thrown 27 innings the past two years (Ouch!), and there have been rumors circulating that the Cardinals will transition Reyes to the bullpen for over a year now. That said, the upside here is still immense. Reyes is expected to fully recovered from his back injury. The stuff here is still premium, and a combination of injuries/TINSTAAP advocates/prospect fatigue give owners a decent chance to buy low. “The potential outcomes for Reyes are a perennial SP1, a high strikeout SP3 who you can only count on for 120-150 innings a year, or succumbs to injuries enough that he transitions to the bullpen and becomes an easy top 5 reliever. Other than needing patience, where’s the downside in those outcomes?” (Kyler Jesanis)

36. Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 58)

Soroka has been a prospect I have been in love with for a while, as I thought the “He’s a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one, low ceiling high floor pitcher” narrative pushed his value lower than his talent. The main cause for dynasty owner’s concerns would be a low K/9. That held true in his debut as it sat at 7.36, and his total K% at 18.6%. That said, it was a small sample of only 25 innings and his sw/strk% suggested he should have had a higher K% rate. He induced a similar number of swings and misses as Zack Greinke, Mike Foltynewicz, J.A. Happ, Jameson Taillon, and Zack Wheeler. Are we complaining about any of their strikeout totals? Soroka seems like a good bet to be an SP 3 for a long time given the quality of his repertoire, his competitiveness, pitchability, and until his shoulder injury had a track record of being durable (famous last words). Soroka is more valuable than you think, as a long career of being 2018 Jameson Taillon is in reach. (Kyler Jesanis)

37. Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 86)

Raise your hand if you saw Kyle Freeland’s 2018 coming? Put it down, you liar! Freeland was outstanding for the Rockies and for fantasy owners alike. Putting up over 200 innings with a sub 3.00 ERA, a decent 1.25 WHIP, and the 30th most strikeouts in baseball. While it was a great year, there are some red flags for dynasty owners. His SIERA/FIP/XFIP/DRA all say he overachieved by a wide margin. Only Blake Snell, Mike Fiers, Jon Lester, and Julio Teheran outperformed their FIPs by a wider margin than Freeland. Regression is coming, as Freeland is unlikely to main an 83% LOB or his .285 BABIP pitching in Coors. Even his hr/fb rate is likely to climb. That said, all this negativity might actually create a buying opportunity on one of 2018’s best surprises. A long career of a guy with a high 3.00s ERA, a tolerable WHIP, playing on a good team, and top 35 total Ks (because of inning volume) is generally an underrated asset in fantasy circles. The inning total in particular is becoming rarer by the year. 2018 was a career year for Freeland, but he will be good and good for a while. (Kyler Jesanis)

38. AJ Puk, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 36)

Puk is another personal favorite of mine. He has had an enormous amount of hype surrounding him since college (maybe even high school). He went into his draft year as a virtual lock to be 1.1, but struggles a bit. Because Puk hasn’t lived up to expectations/pedigree, he is a touch undervalued in dynasty circles in my opinion. Sort of like how when Stephen Strasburg was devalued because he was merely really freaking good instead of the Baseball God he was hyped to be. Puk has absolutely dominant stuff, the main problem is with his massive size and long levers can make his command/consistency sporadic. He will have a high WHIP, but his stuff is just so flat out dominant he will be a high K high WHIP SP3 at worst and an SP 1 at best. Buy now while his value is depressed as he recovers from Tommy John and is still shrugging the weight of massive expectations off his back. (Kyler Jesanis)

39. Zack Wheeler, New York Mets (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 115)

FINALLY!!!!!!! The long awaited Zack Wheeler follow up to the 2014 breakout arrived. He became more dominant as the year went on, finishing with a second half ERA of 1.68 and a 2.53 FIP. For all the publicity German Marquez’s second half gets (and to a lesser extent Luis Castillo’s), Wheeler’s second half performance is largely unknown. 4 out of his 5 pitches performed incredibly well (just ditch the changeup, Zack, please). Wheeler looks to be very similar to Jameson Taillon as a fantasy asset. So why is he further down our list? Mainly more recent injuries and a greater uptick in command (halved his BB/9 in 2018) that could easily regress closer to his career levels. He’s got a really strong ceiling, we’re just more in a place of let’s see it again before fully buying in. (Kyler Jesanis)

40. Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 73)

Oh E-Rod, my E-Rod, when you pitch you’re wonderful. It’s just the first part of that phrase does not happen as often as we’d like. He has a knee injury that keeps coming and going. Can we get more than 130 innings out of him? Probably not, maybe once or twice if we’re lucky. The strong k-rate combined with the high win output pitching in front of one of baseballs best lineups satiate us enough to tolerate the low inning output. You know what you’re getting with E-Rod. (Kyler Jesanis)

41) David Price, Boston Red Sox, (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 48)

It was a bounce back season for Price in that he wasn’t hurt and he didn’t end up in the bullpen to end the year but he stays ranked in the 40s for the 2nd straight year. He still maintained a solid 3.58 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 9.1 stirkeouts per nine innings. Price probably won’t ever be a 220-240 inning powerhouse again. He stayed healthy the entire season and around 180 innings now seems to be his peak. He does gets better as the game goes deeper and his 3rd time through the order has been better than his first two times through each of the last 6 years. That should allow him to maintain a heavy innings workload as long as he doesn’t play too much Fortnite and have carpal tunnel flare up again. (Britt Engelbrecht)

42) Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 15)

Robbie may be the pioneer of the Three True Outcome Pitcher. It’s either a strikeout, a walk, or something else. Of pitchers with 100+ innings, Ray was 5th in the majors with 12 strikeouts per nine. That’s elite! He was also 3rd worst in the majors at a dangerous 5.1 walks per nine innings. That’s not elite! He had an outstanding 2.89 ERA, 1.154 WHIP in 2017 that was unsustainable with a 3.72 FIP. So in 2018 he went and added more than one extra walk per nine, and his ERA fell to 3.93 (well short of his 4.31 FIP). He missed 8 weeks with an oblique strain but don’t expect future big innings out of him because he is terrible the third time through the order. His future rankings could continue to fluctuate wildly as we’ve had him #64 in 2017, #15 in 2018, and #42 in 2019. (Britt Engelbrecht)

43) Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs, (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 41)

“The Professor” has to out-think and outwork every other pitcher in the majors to keep up. He throws the 10th slowest average fastball, the 10th slowest curveball, the 10th slowest sinker, and the 10th slowest changeup in MLB. His fastball only sits at 87.3 mph, yet he throws it more often (62%) than any pitcher ranked above him. And he throws his change up more than any pitcher in the MLB at 31%. Hendricks had the highest Pitch Value in baseball for his change up, right above these guys: DeGrom, Greinke, and Scherzer. He finds success with inferior stuff by keeping tight pitch tunnels which prevents the hitter from seeing what pitch is coming until late in flight. Expect consistent, boring production from him for years to come. (Britt Engelbrecht)

44) Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 26)

Last season’s 3.75 ERA, 1.128 WHIP and 9.2 strikeouts per nine is exactly what you want from a solid starter on your squad. But he did that with the worst fastball per 100 pitches by Pitch Value of all pitchers that pitched 150 innings. It was even worse the year before. But Tanaka’s slider had the 10th best Pitch Value behind nine studs and Tanner Roark. He can probably improve by simply moving significantly off his fastball. If you’ve already owned Tanaka you’ve probably watched him melt down from the fifth to seventh innings over and over as he is allowing a .292 average and .914 OPS on the third time through the order. The Yankees have an elite bullpen and should have a quick trigger on Tanaka, making it tough to maintain heavy innings going into his 30s. (Britt Engelbrecht)

45) Shane Bieber, Cleveland Indians, (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)

Bieber fever took over midseason after he posted a 1.47 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over 80 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. After getting called up he logged 115 innings with a 4.55 ERA and 1.334 WHIP. He’s a guy that throws average stuff but has good command. His strikeout per nine was pretty good (9.3) and his walk rate per nine was very good (1.8). But man does he get hit, and get hit hard. He was seventh worst in Average Exit Velocity off the bat for pitchers with 300+ batted balls, and allowed over 10 hits per nine. He throws the ball in the zone ninth most of pitchers with 100+ innings, which might allow him to lower that to get more weak contact and swinging strikes. That being said, I would bet on Bieber (and his 20th in majors xFIP) to figure it out and become a really good starter in the future. (Britt Engelbrecht)

46) Lance McCullers Jr., Houston Astros, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 22)

Recovery from Tommy John surgery will consume his entire 2019 season and we’ll get to see if he actually has another pitch besides his curve ball in 2020. Peak McCullers was Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS when he threw 24 straight curveballs to send the Astros to the World Series. He threw that curve ball a major league leading 47% of the time in 2018. But here’s the thing, it’s just not effective anymore. The curve ball went from second in majors in pitch value in 2016 (21.8) to fifth in 2017 (15.4) all the way down to 40th in 2018 (1.6). Lance and the Astros will have a full year to think about solutions, and the Astros have extracted gold out of much less talented arms. (Britt Engelbrecht)

47) Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies, (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 194)

2017 was a rough 133 inning debut for Pivetta (6+ ERA, 1.5+ WHIP) but he improved across the board in 2018. He lowered his ERA to 4.77 (3.80 FIP), lowered his walk rate from 3.9 to a respectable 2.8 walks per nine innings, and increased his strikeout rate from 9.5 to a very good 10.3 strikeouts per nine. His fastball was ineffective in 2017 (still is) so he lowered that usage from 66% to 52% increasing his usage on his slider and curveball which are both good pitches. Pivetta is showing he can make adjustments to improve and if that continues he could climb a bit higher in next year’s rankings. He was 25th in the majors in xFIP (100 innings minimum) and 13th in strikeout percentage (27.1%). Consider that range his ceiling. (Britt Engelbrecht)

48) MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres, (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 59)

Three-time high school state champion, two-time top-60 ranked starting pitcher at TDG and one-time number 3 overall pick. What more do you need? Well how about if he were a couple inches taller he may kick the second baseman in the face with his beautiful leg kick in his windup. Struggled a bit in Single-A with a 4.45 ERA and 1.30 WHIP after dominating rookie ball for 20 innings in 2017. But his repertoire projects as elite and as TDG’s Jesse Roche said, “he has a 92-97 mph fastball (four- and two-seam), an upper-70s, 1-to-7 curveball, an upper-80s slider, and a low-80s, fading change-up. Each pitch projects to plus or better, except the slider, which he uses primarily as a change-of-pace offering.” Expect to learn a lot more from a full season of data in 2019. (Britt Engelbrecht)

49) Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 16)

For the first five years of his career Yu was a consistent source of low WHIP (career 1.19), high strikeouts (11 K/9), and a good ERA (3.49) but now injuries may be plaguing his career. TDG’s own Dr. Mike put it best:

“What people don’t understand well is that he had 3 separate injuries last year then surgery to fix the secondary problem. First it was shoulder impingement (fluid filled sac gets crushed under a bone called the acromion). Then he altered his mechanics and developed an elbow problem. Then he developed another problem in the elbow (torsional problem with the bones) which led to a debridement surgery to his elbow. So he is entering from a lost season with shoulder & elbow problems. Slider remains elite, everything else is falling.“ – Dr. Mike Tanner

Dynasty owners have every right to be scared and the Cubs have 101 million reasons to be as well. (Britt Engelbrecht)

50) Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers, (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)

We had a four year run of great number one overall picks from 2009-2012 (Strasburg, Harper, G.Cole, Correa) followed by four year run of mostly trash (Appel, Aiken, Swanson, Moniak). Time will tell but Royce Lewis and Casey Mize have a shot to start a new positive four year cycle. Mize has exceptional fastball command and sits mid-90s. The splitter by all accounts will be his go-to pitch and has been compared to Tanaka’s. He had some elbow issues in college, which could be a product of flawed mechanics that usually leads to a lost year down the line. Detroit is likely to be terrible forever but Mize could move quickly if Detroit chooses. (Britt Engelbrecht)

51) Dallas Keuchel, FA (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 17)

What the hell were we doing ranking Keuchel #17 last year? Keuchel did some odd things with his pitch mix last year which results in some even more peculiar results. He cut his sinker usage significantly and supplemented it with the use of his change up and cutter.The K/9 and GB% were on the left hand side of the Keuchel bell curve, which directly correlated with the increased ERA into the mid-3’s, despite the fact he decreased a BB/9 and HR/9 from the previous 2 years. In other words, there was a lot of tinkering that resulted in more balls in play and the results were mixed. Let’s all hope he falls back in love with his sinker. That would mean he has settled back into that 200 IP, low 3’s, meh K/9, and good-ish WHIP window we can rely on as a serviceable SP3 for the next 3 or 4 years, because this SP4 version of him borders on the type of player who’s traded in your league 6 times over the next 3 years as managers get frustrated and annoyed with the results. (Adam Lawler)

52) Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates, (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 39)

Look, when it comes to pitching prospects, there’s Forrest Whitley and everyone else. That said, this ranking feels a little light. Keller didn’t lose anything or regress in 2018 when he was ranked higher than he is today. For what it’s worth, Keller is going to pitch about 130 to 150 IP this year with a little more than half of those in Pittsburgh. This timeline tracks him about a year or two ahead of names like Luzardo, Gore, Sixto, and Mize. He has health on his side, which is more than Puk, Honeywell, and Reyes can say. In addition, all 3 of his offerings (FB, CB, CH) trend average or plus. Still, he doesn’t have anything truly dynamic in comparison to his contemporaries and we love to bet upside. It would not surprise me to see Keller be the best pitcher of this bunch over the next 3 years, and it would surprise me less to see him in the bottom half of the list for much of his career. (Adam Lawler)

53) Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 30)

I am not a fan of the Jon Gray perception, but not because of the reasons you may think. More because I love German Marquez and the industry points to Jon Gray’s 2017 to explain fading Marquez. WELL, YOU’RE WRONG. WRONG I SAY. Let me defend Gray by saying that – among qualified pitchers – Gray’s K-BB% was in the top 20, his swinging strike rate was in the top 15, and his xFIP/ERA differential was the largest in the majors. The guy experienced a death by BABIP (posting the third worst average in baseball) and a HR bugaboo (worst HR/FB rate in the majors). Look, these are correctable problems and if you want to sell low on Gray, I’m buying in a big way. (Adam Lawler)

Writer’s note: I love random oddities the tie humanity together. The next 3 names are all weirdly bonded between the Pirates and Rays organizations. Morton and Glasnow started in Pittsburgh’s organization, Archer started in Tampa. They all flipped at varying times and are of varying generations. All are on the precipice/heels of career defining years.

54) Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 78)

Not sure what to say here. As the latest of bloomers, Morton clearly has the goods and he’ll take his talents to the tank where pitching revolution is the name of the game. After nearly 10 years in the majors, Morton posted a career high 167 innings pitched to go along with a career best K/9 rate and ERA. He’s 35. It’s as impressive as it is unreal. Seriously, that was his career year and it’s unlikely he does it again. That said, he still has a role on most fringy-to-competitive dynasty teams. My guess is he gets the opener treatment, the Rays pull a Dodgers roster manipulation by giving him some phantom IL stints, he pitches 140 innings the next two years. Think of him like you thought of young Rich Hill when he broke out and act accordingly. (Adam Lawler)

55) Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 14)

Another player we way over ranked last year. There’s nothing I can say here that Alex Chamberlain at Fangraphs didn’t already state in his January 2nd article Chris Archer’s Last, Best Hope. Allow me to succinctly summarize for Mr. Chamberlain: Chris Archer has been like heroin to certain fantasy owners. We’ve been chasing the dragon since 2013. Waiting for that next big step in his advancement. It’s never come and it likely will never come. Archer re-introduced the sinker back into his repertoire upon arrival to Pittsburgh. This might be good because Archer’s fastball is very bad! Or maybe not because sinkers are by and large crappy pitches! Baseball! Weird, right?! (Adam Lawler)

56) Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 87)

This large human has taken a baby step towards honing his curve ball, but it’s still not good considering the -3.1 wCB it posted in 2018. One would assume he will pick up an additional 12 to 6 things from Snellzilla. Take this with the biggest grain of salt you can find considering it’s only 24 innings, but Glasnow hasn’t really shown he can get through the order a third time, posting a 5+ ERA and a .300+ OBP. Still, the Tampa organization will have a thousand arms to use and – like Morton above – they will likely use an opener with Glasnow. Maybe it helps with in the wins categories, but it doesn’t do any favors to those in rotisserie or QS leagues. On the flip side of the coin a perennial 140+ IP, 10.5+ K’s, and a 3.6 ERA is pretty alright in this day and age. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year Glasnow is bandied about in the early 40’s. (Adam Lawler)

57) Josh James, Houston Astros, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)

We arrived at the buzziest name of my cohort. Nothing says reactionary as James’ 23 inning stint creating a stir among us dynasty analysts who did not rank him at all last year to ranking him within the top 60 this year. To me, pairing his semi-interesting profile and his fun debut screams shiny new toy overreaction. He features 2 displays, a plus fastball and slider, with a show-me change up he used at a 22% clip during his first go around. Moreover, the 10.41 K/9 Steamer projects seems a little to aggressive given the 14.1% swinging strike rate he won’t retain and the current tools he’s carrying. He might be good, but 130 innings of a mid-to-high 3 ERA seems mediocre to me, and there are names ranked after his that are far more interesting (e.g. Urias, Paddack, Liberatore, Pearson) and carry much more upside and a safer floor than James. (Adam Lawler)

58) Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: #159)

Let’s play a game of 2nd half statistics:

Pitcher A 19.2% 16.4% 1.29 .317 3.42 3.40
Pitcher B 19.4% 18.9% 1.25 .321 3.41 3.63

All things being even you might lean towards Pitcher A because of the HR/FB rate, but it’s still not that much of a difference, right? Well, pitcher A is Jim Melichart’s darling Nick Pivetta who is ranked #47. Meanwhile, we have a bargain value Pivetta in Andrew Heaney sitting before our eyes. Projection systems and unaware baseball minds are weighing down Heaney’s IP value based on his history of not being able to stay healthy, but the former top prospect tossed 180 innings of solid ball last year and I would assume it will be at that level again as he enters his age 27 season. He’s got the stuff and he’s proven he’s capable. Go ahead and take the bargain price while you can. (Adam Lawler)

59) Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 149)

Oh hello, future Josh Hader with prettier hair, and fewer garbage human tweets. In case you didn’t know, Cease subscribes to this guy, a yogi, to help him on his journey to enlightenment. As a Sox fan, I want to believe that Cease and Kopech will be a 1 / 2 combo for years to come. Cease’s fastball sits in the high 90s and grades at a 7. His curveball – already grading as a plus pitch – has bite that will have batters seeking antivenom. His change up has progressed and developed into an average offering. Sadly, his progression to ramp up innings is going at a snails pace and, despite these efforts, he continues to deal with owies. In the end, Cease is a pretty chill human with a cannon for an arm who is on the precipice of being called up to the big-league roster. If he winds up a starter think of him like you would Stephen Strasburg. There are worse things to bet on when it comes to dynasty formats. (Adam Lawler)

60) Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves (Age: 25, Previous Rank: #111)

Well, the K rate is fun, right?! Gals, if he could just figure out how to limit the free passes he’d really be something. The change (thrown 19.1% of the time) and curve ball (thrown 14.3% of the time) graded out as a negative pitch last year despite the fastball command being on point. Perhaps Newcomb needs a bit of refinement, but that is something scouts have called out for years. Meanwhile, there are more viable arms in the Atlanta system than there are all other systems combined. I’m nervous, but I’m not giving up completely. (Adam Lawler)

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Adam Lawler

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