Pitchers on my Dynasty Teams – 2022 Edition
As a follow up to the hitters that find themselves on my eight dynasty teams (I actually forgot about one, and was just reminded this past week, so had only four days to draft prep), I wanted to share the pitchers that appear on my teams the most. My dynasty strategy (and it is not one I created, but that I adhere to) is go after hitters first and foremost, and trade for pitching as needed. I usually have a 2:1 prospect hitters:prospect pitchers ratio on my Dynasty teams. As such, there are much fewer pitchers that appear on a majority of my teams compared to hitters, but let us look at the select few that do (and I promise the last one will surprise you).
Zach Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies, Age: 31
It is no shocker (to me) that Wheeler appears on a lot of my teams; I have been a fan since his Mets days. This past off-season I traded for him in a 40-man roster league in exchange for Alex Bregman even. There is so much to like in his profile, from his 97mph fastball to the hook at 80-mph, he keeps hitters off balance and now has a K rate above ten.
I would take him highly in a re-draft or Dynasty league start-up (and did so once already this year); at 31 years of age, he is not old, and as we have seen more and more, passing age 30 is not the death sentence that it is for hitters in fantasy circles. Wheeler is aging like fine wine, with a team around him built to win now. Guys that go six to seven innings per start are rare, so in Quality Starts leagues he is even more valuable. Look at his statcast page from last season…then look at 2018. It is all red; he has been this good for a while.
Some shoulder soreness in the off-season may turn some off to him (no one likes the red flag) but all systems are go as of today, as he just had a bullpen session as he gets ready for the season. Coming off his best season, his value is high; if he stumbles early after getting a late start this spring, pounce.
Nestor Cortes Jr., New York Yankees, Age: 27
One of the most fun pitchers to watch, Cortes gets hitters out using an unorthodox delivery, and I have made him a target to acquire this off-season (successfully pulling it off in three leagues) at a relatively low cost. He has always had strikeout prowess, but he lowered his walks to a respectable 2.42/9 IP, and the success was palatable. Cortes is not the 2.90 ERA pitcher he showed last season, as his FIP of 3.78 will attest; but the projection systems have him pegged for an ERA north of 4.40, and that seems a bit much for me. He has a solid spot in the Yankees rotation and although they play in the tough AL East, acquiring and rostering Cortes is not going to break the proverbial bank. In many leagues he was a free agent most of last season. The diminutive lefty with the sweet mustache is an SP4 with the possibility to do a lot more.
Drew Rasmussen, Tampa Bay Rays, Age: 26
Another off-season target of mine, and a guy who was available on waivers most of the last season, Rasmussen should have a starting gig on lock this season in Tampa, and as more than just an opener. He, along with Tanner Houck and Andy Ashby, form a group of the pitchers I wanted to acquire in as many Dynasties as I could this off-season (and I am definitely not alone); as of now all three have rotation spots. They also are all primarily two-pitch pitchers as well, with Rasmussen sporting a killer 97-mph fastball and slider. Where once these types of guys were seen as relievers, more teams are using them as starters to get through the order twice.
Rasmussen never pitched more than five innings once he became a starter; though he went exactly five in five out of his nine starts. If Tampa trusts him, I do too. The early ride may be bumpy, but the payoff, especially in leagues with Wins, could be huge. If there is another lesson to learn from Rasmussen last season is to pay attention to those rather unheralded pitchers who get starts at the end of the year when your leaguemates have moved on to football.
AJ Alexy, Texas Rangers, Age: 23
There is one guy who is on all my fantasy teams, and that is AJ Alexy. The Rangers gave him the ball last season, and while he started hot, his ending was sub-zero, to the tune of a season ending ERA of 4.70, and an even worse FIP of 6.30. “Why, Phil, why do you roster a guy like this on every team,” you say?
To see why, let us step back a bit. Alexy was drafted in the 11th round by the Dodgers back in 2015 and was moved to the Rangers along with Willie Calhoun in the deal that sent Yu Darvish to LA for a hot minute. Now, his minor league numbers: in 300 innings, he has an ERA of 3.30, 1.22 WHIP, and 362 strikeouts compared to 147 walks. Those numbers don’t lie. Though, to be fair (to be faaaaaiiiiir for my Letterkenney fans out there, he even sports a Squirely Dan reddish beard), most of those came at Single-A and Single-A+ ball.
Alexy did not pitch in 2020, and in 2021 he pitched only 65 innings between Double-A and Triple-A before getting called up to the majors. He walked too many guys, and we already talked about his putrid FIP. But I see a 23-year-old hoss of a righthander that the Rangers felt comfortable enough to give him major league innings, and I took notice. Right now, he is penciled in as the fifth starter and a poor start may find him in the bullpen or back at Triple-A; but for the low, low price of nothing (he is only rostered in only 34% of Fantrax leagues), I am willing to take the chance.