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Dynasty Fantasy Baseball Buy or Sell - Pitchers


The dust has finally settled on 2017 and many of us are fully immersed in winter, which means it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate our dynasty squads. Last season featured plenty of breakouts and many head-scratching performances, so where to go from here?

The old adage of buying low and selling high is just as important in dynasty leagues as in redraft or keeper leagues. It’s not always possible; sometimes you just need to cut bait on a guy or overpay slightly to get the player you want. In an ideal world you see something in a player that your opponents do not. This is the time to get creative.

We’ve already looked at some hitters to consider acquiring or moving. Here are some pitchers to consider buying and selling before the offseason comes to an end:

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Dynasty League Buy Candidates

Luis Castillo (SP, CIN)

There’s been a steady stream of praise for Luis Castillo since his impressive debut in 2017. Naysayers might point to the small sample size (89.1 innings pitched for Cincinnati), his low BABIP (.247) or his high strand rate (80.1%) and think regression. But don’t dismiss what he did in his first go-around in the big leagues, as his 3.12 ERA and 1.07 WHIP were fully skills-supported. Castillo induced whiffs at a 12.6% rate en route to striking out 9.87 batters per nine innings. When he wasn’t sending hitters back to the bench looking skyward, he was busy forcing hitters to smash balls into the ground, as his 58.8% ground-ball rate will attest. Had he qualified, that would have placed him fourth among starting pitchers. With a fastball sitting at 98 MPH and a nasty complement of pitches, Castillo is poised to take the next step towards fantasy ace, and this could be the last chance to get him before his price reflects that.

Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL)

When you see a big lefty who throws gas, you take notice. Standing 6-foot-3 and armed with a high-90s fastball from the left side, Luiz Gohara has the raw tools to dominate in the major leagues. Signed by the Seattle Mariners at 16 out of Brazil, Gohara was traded to the Braves this time last year and progressed significantly in Atlanta’s system, striking out more than 12 batters per nine innings. Gohara’s cup of coffee last season didn’t go quite as well as he would have liked (1-3, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) but luck certainly wasn’t on his side. An anemic 62% strand rate and a .366 BABIP are signs of some positive regression to come, as his 2.75 FIP and 4.05 xFIP further support. Currently slated to crack the Braves rotation, Gohara could make an impact sooner than later and makes for an excellent dynasty league target.

Dylan Bundy (SP, BAL)

On the surface Dylan Bundy wasn’t anything special in 2017. His 4.24 ERA looked very average and his 8.1 K/9 was pretty pedestrian during a time when so many seem to be in double digits. But it was a step forward for the former first rounder that put him firmly on top of the post-hype sleeper list. Bundy made strides in the second half, upping his strikeout rate to 9.7 K/9 and improving his command. He threw more first pitch strikes (from 58% in the first half to 62% in the second half) and raised his swinging strike rate to 14%. Remember, this is a pitcher who missed significant time his first few seasons after being drafted by the Orioles fourth overall in 2011, so his development is just catching up. Bundy is someone worth taking a gamble on if the price is right.

 

Dynasty League Sell Candidates

Marcus Stroman (SP, TOR)

Marcus Stroman is a great pitcher in real life. He’s averaged almost 33 starts and 203 innings pitched his last two seasons, posting ground ball rates over 60% both times including a league-best 62.1% in 2017. His 3.09 ERA ranked ninth among starters. So why is he on a sell list? Quite simply, his fantasy profile isn’t as appealing as he doesn’t strike out enough batters. Stroman has never displayed a consistent ability to miss bats and that hurts in the fantasy game. There’s plenty of room on a roster for a guy like Stroman but you’ll need to make up for his lack of punchouts. Factor in a weakening infield defence behind him with the aging of Troy Tulowitzki and loss of Ryan Goins and you just might be better off flipping him before his run prevention regresses.

Robbie Ray (SP, ARI)

Many forecasted Robbie Ray’s 2017 breakout and they nailed it. Ray improved his strikeout rate and whiffed exactly 218 batters for the second year in a row but in 12 fewer innings pitched. He also posted a career best 2.89 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, but before crowning him the next big K machine it would be wise to take a look under the hood. Ray benefited from some luck in 2017 that included a career-low .267 BABIP (his previous low was .311) and a career-best 82% strand rate. Despite the league-wide home run trend and a homer-friendly home ballpark, Ray’s HR/FB rate stayed almost the same from 2016 but he allowed more fly balls overall, up from 33% to 40%. Until he turns a corner in terms of control (3.94 BB/9 and a 60% first strike percentage) he’s at a higher risk for his ERA to creep back up towards his career 4.07 average. Play it safe and don’t assume linear progression here. There’s bound to be someone in your league willing to pay for his lofty strikeout totals and offer something worthwhile in return.

Lance McCullers (SP, HOU)

This may not be a popular choice, but Lance McCullers is a prime sell candidate. After a hot start to 2017, the injury bug bit yet again and wrecked his season as he finished with a 4.25 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. The strikeout stuff and raw talent is there, but can you count on his health? McCullers also hasn’t displayed much progress with his control or command since breaking into the league back in 2015: his first pitch strike percentage actually fell a few points to 55% last season. There’s always a chance he breaks through with that perfectly healthy season, but another year with time spent on the DL could completely wreck whatever dynasty league value he has left. Recency bias is definitely a thing, and McCullers’ solid playoff performance and name value are likely enough to fetch a solid return for this perennially hyped arm. He’s a buy in redraft leagues, but dynasty leaguers need to be thinking long term with this investment, and right now he’s just not trustworthy enough to hang onto if a good return can be had.

 

More 2018 Dynasty Baseball Strategy




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