Dynasty Baseball

Dynasty Dispatches: Starting Pitcher Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Discord Dispatches! We asked our loyal dynasty nerds from our Discord (duh) what questions they had on the state of starting pitchers this year. There were lots of good questions put forth and we picked the best ones to gain you an edge in your leagues hopefully.

This week I am joined by the ever-present and repeating guest The Friendly Neighborhood Dynasty Dad, Taylor Case, as well as our pal Greg. Without further ado here are the Q’s and our sometimes well-thought-out A’s (unless they’re my answers, those tend to be hair-brained.)

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Drew Spurling asks

How far up has Justin Steele moved in each of your respective rankings? (Taylor)

Considering he came in at #89 in our consensus rankings this offseason, my lazy answer to this question is going to be a resounding, “a lot far up”. I don’t even care if that doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. 

So far, he’s 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 39 strikeouts across 49.1 innings. I mean, he’s pitching like a gosh darn Cy Young candidate! And while I had him third-highest amongst the Gurus at #82 (meaningless humblebrag, gotta love it), this was clearly a misrank. Sure, strikeouts are down a bit, but the more important thing is that he’s just getting outs. And I mean lots of outs. Case in point, he’s gone at least six innings in six out of seven starts this season. Ryan Felix Fernandes must be thrilled.

I guess my diligent, mostly thought out answer to Drew’s question is this: right now, Steele’s dealing like a top-15 pitcher. Do I think he stays this hot? Probably not, but if I was re-ranking hurlers in this very moment (and who knows, maybe I am, maybe we all are), he’d probably crack the top-30. (Taylor Case)

Who are some of your fave buy-low or even buy-high candidates? 

Alek Manoah might be had pretty cheap at the moment, I would check in with his owner if you have your steel underpants on. He`s not as bad as he has shown this year and I would be willing to kick the tires. Another guy I have been looking at trying to go out and get that is currently underperforming is…Aaron Nola. Not to repeat my thoughts on Manoah, but come on, Nola is better than this. His xERA is sitting at 3.67, but his fastball velocity is down a tick which is slightly concerning and it’s getting hit hard. I think he turns it around and the strikeouts come back to normal, however.

A guy I absolutely believe in that is pitching really well is Mitch Keller, and not just because I`m a Pirates fan. He has finally figured out his arsenal after tinkering with it for the past few years and his slider on Stuff+ ranks only behind Ashcroft`s but with a better location on it. He will get Cy Young votes this year, and it`s still early enough that people are wondering if this is still a fluke or not but he`s really pitched well in his past 30 starts, it`s just now the strikeouts are coming along with limiting runs. (Ryan Epperson)

Could Dane Dunning carve out a role in Texas?

 I mean, maybe? His BABIP sits at a ridiculous .187 and he’s not striking anybody out. You can’t get far in life with a K-BB% of 8.2%. However, there`s a lot of injury risk in that rotation and no one knocking down the door in the minors so it’s completely plausible he stays up all year and contributes some innings. He just shouldn’t be on your fantasy team unless it’s an “only” league I guess but even then… (Ryan Epperson)

Can Tyler Glasnow be a top 10 SP ROS when he returns, presuming it is indeed in the next couple of weeks?  (Ed. Note: question asked before Glasnow was pulled from his rehab assignment game yesterday as a precaution)

Every time Glasnow pitches, it’s so beautiful. The hair, the extension, that wonderful curveball of his. All the right stuff, in all the right places. But you know what, he’s slowly become a player I can’t roster anymore. I hope he’s okay with that.

It sucks, honestly. We don’t really have to belabor the injuries any further than they’ve already been hashed out on twitter and around the community – the bottom line is the guy is an ultra-talented pitcher. He’s great for the Rays, the sport in general, and whichever shampoo company is so lucky to sponsor him. But I’ll likely be rooting for him from the sidelines. Can he be a top-10 pitch for the rest of the season? Sure. Will he? Well, I guess we’ll see. (Taylor Case)

How concerned are you with Rodón? Do we just hold on?

There are definite reasons to be concerned. Backs are scary when it comes to a pitcher’s health. We have timelines when it comes to most types of arm injuries, but not for backs. If your back is not healthy as a pitcher, you can’t do anything. Today (05/09), he received a cortisone shot and the report is that he will resume throwing this weekend. If you are a Rodón manager, you knew what you were getting yourself into when you drafted him, he has an extensive injury history. His trade value is low right now because of the uncertainty with his health. With the draft capital (or auction salary) you invested in him the best plan of attack is to hold at this point until we get some more information. (Greg Hoogkamp)

Maybe look to acquire Skubal before he returns from injury? Or Buehler for teams that are rebuilding?

My millennial brain instantly tries to fit everything into a meme, and the first thing that came to mind was the meme of the little girl saying, “why not both?” I prefer Skubal personally, he’s a few years younger, pitches in a better park, and can ostensibly strike more guys out than Buehler at this stage. You might also be able to get him cheaper than Buehler just based on name recognition so I would check in on both of them and see where their owners are at and how they view them.

The case can be made for Buehler for sure, better team so more opportunity for wins (if your league counts them) and he has a longer track record of success. I’ve been a sucker for Skubal though, as I`ve seen a lot of him at the Double-A level and was enamored with him. (Ryan Epperson)

Ken Balderston asks:

What is up with Aaron Nola? 

Obviously, things don’t look quite right so far for Nola. His ERA is in the mid 4’s and his strikeouts are way down. Looking at his underlying numbers I think it comes down to the velocity on his three fastballs (4S/SI/CU). They are all down over a mile an hour compared to last season and it seems to be affecting everything. This could be a few things, but my guess is that it’s mechanical. One thing in particular makes me think this and it’s his extension. Nola is normally in the top of the league when it comes to extension (mid 90’s percentile), but this year he is at 80%. When a pitcher can get their full extension, everything is loose and the ball comes out of the hand much easier. In his start vs. the Blue Jays tonight (05/09) he topped out at 95 on his 4-seamer and all three fastballs were up in velocity and back to historical norms. There is no extension data in-game on Statcast, but I would venture to guess that Nola was back to his elite self. One game doesn’t ever tell us the whole story, but I think this is a good indicator that there will be nothing to worry about going forward. (Greg Hoogkamp)

Doc Holliday asks

Is Kyle Bradish good or bad or somewhere in between?

Can I say Good and Bad? Or is that just somewhere in between? Bradish is very good at some things and very bad at others. His two breaking balls (CB/SL) are very good pitches. He has a WOBA of .253 (xWOBA .205) on his Slider with a Whiff% of 42.5%, that’s ridiculous! His Curveball is nearly as good with a .347 WOBA (xWOBA .271), but has a Whiff% of 46.9%. Two things are holding him back, his 4-Seam Fastball and his command: two pretty important things. Bradish’s 4-Seamer is getting obliterated to the tune of a .438 BA and .845 Slugging Percentage. Because he still throws this pitch 34.2% of the time and it’s 94 mph with average IVB, it’s leading to a lot of hits and runs. His command is spotty at best. His 9.7% BB rate isn’t that bad, but his strike percentage of just 44.4% is well below league average (48.5%). I think what is happening is that he is falling behind hitters and having to throw his fastball and hitters aren’t missing it. The solution isn’t a simple one, I think he needs to improve his overall command in order to be ahead in more counts. This doesn’t normally happen overnight, so if you can afford to stash him on your bench and hope he works it out I would do it because there are some things to like here. If you don’t have room, it might be time to cut bait and try someone else. (Greg Hoogkamp)

Will injuries limit Scherzer’s effectiveness? Is he done soon? His IP are dwindling each year as he heads toward 40.

This is a complicated question, but I think my general gut call here is: it depends. Call me crazy but I don’t think Scherzer is done competing yet. He’s the same old madman out there, and will likely show back up soon with the same old chip on his shoulder (maybe even a larger chip after his ejection the other day). I’m not ready to hang my hat on 22+ innings for a typically elite pitcher in a weird year where all pitchers are having to adjust to a myriad of new rules. It’s just too soon.

I will say, however, that reports of neck spasms are one thing. Hell, 33-year-old me woke up the other day with a little crick in my neck and I went full Zoolander for a few days. It happens. Shoulder pain is another thing, and I’ll be mining the news closely for any note on how he’s feeling in that regard.

So will injuries limit Scherzer’s effectiveness? Well, at this moment, I’m not giving up on him. He’s too tenacious and too crafty to count out. But if I’m being honest, I’m going to be a little more cautious throwing him out there in tough matchups. (Taylor Case)

And how can Ashcraft throw a baseball 100mph and not have an “out” pitch? (Greg)

Ashcraft has great velocity and spin rates, he’s up there near the top of the league in both categories. The surprising thing is that he doesn’t get whiffs at the rates you would expect having the tools he has at his disposal. It’s strange to me that he doesn’t throw a true 4-Seamer because with his velocity and spin, I would think that would be a very effective pitch to play off his Slider. I also wonder whether a change in Slider shape might help get more whiffs, maybe changing to more of a Sweeper, or keep his current Slider and also throw a Sweeper to give the hitter a different look. It just feels like something is missing. No doubt he has lights-out stuff, but he hasn’t been able to find consistency early in his career. (Greg Hoogkamp)

Chris Brunk:

What the heck do we do with Alek Manoah? Do you think he’ll figure it out, or should we be looking to sell at rock bottom on Manoah? Also, do you think the pitch clock is playing into his struggles this year?

Hold for now, you won’t get any value for him now in my opinion. He was always a little overrated to begin with, as he’s never had much swing-and-miss but he’s not as bad as he has been this year. Especially in a dynasty setting, I would hate to give up on him this early, he’s still young and has a history of being good in the show. As for the pitch clock being a problem, my best answer is…I don’t know. (Ryan Epperson)

The Author

Ryan Epperson

Ryan Epperson

Lead prospect analyst and managing editor for The Dynasty Guru.

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