Dynasty Baseball Major League Pitcher Performance Report 2.0

An analysis of how pitchers are trending for dynasty leagues.

The Dynasty Baseball Performance Report is a regular series, highlighting each position and providing insight into the risers and fallers of both the major leagues and prospects.

Value changes fast in fantasy baseball. A player can go from a valuable commodity to the waiver wire in the blink of an eye. While dynasty value is a bit slower to react, remaining proactive in player evaluation is key to the longevity of your team’s success. That is the goal of these dynasty performance reports the Pitcher List dynasty team is producing. I have the privilege of breaking down which pitchers are seeing their dynasty value fluctuate. Keep reading for the Major League edition of the dynasty pitcher performance report.

Be sure to head over to the Pitcher List dynasty page to check out the rest of the performance reports as well as plenty of other content from the dynasty team.

Pitchers with Rising Dynasty Value

Ranger Suárez – PHI

On a team filled with stars, Ranger Suárez is often overshadowed. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler headline the rotation with Cristopher Sánchez being the flashy breakout pick heading into 2024. Forgotten about was the crafty lefty Suarez who has been brilliant in the postseason but inconsistent for fantasy managers in recent years. Through eight starts, Suarez has been the most consistent pitcher in baseball. He has worked at least five innings in each start and owns a 1.50 ERA. Suarez’s 7-0 record has his dynasty value rising fast through the first month and a half of the season.

While statistics and metrics help to paint a full picture, some variables do not show up on the back of a baseball card. For what seems like the first time in his career, Suarez experienced a normal Spring Training.

Suarez was used in a swing-man role throughout the 2021 season splitting time between the bullpen and rotation. He appeared poised to head into 2022 with a starting rotation spot before Visa issues delayed his Spring Training. He ramped up late and pitched just 2.2 innings his first start. By the end of May, Suarez owned a 4.69 ERA. Turn the page to 2023, Suarez suffered an elbow injury during Spring Training which delayed the start of his season until May 13th. He owned a 7.13 ERA through his first four starts. This season, Suarez had no unexpected disruptions during Spring Training. His routine and preparation remained intact which is clearly having a positive impact on his 2024 results.

Digging into some of the metrics, there is nothing drastic that sticks out. There is however one key difference that Suarez has made so far this season. His changeup has primarily been relied on to combat right-handed batters throughout his career. The usage on this against RHH sat over 27% back in 2021 but has slowly declined down to 16.3% this season. He instead is relying more heavily on his curveball which is having tremendous success against righties

More than just his pitch mix, Suarez has adjusted the profile on the change. After averaging around 14″ of horizontal break over the past few seasons, the break now sits at 10.1%. Meanwhile, Suarez has increased the vertical drop on this pitch by over four inches compared to last season.  He also is throwing the changeup about three miles per hour slower this season. This change in movement has led to a higher usage and higher success rate of the changeup against lefties. He relied on the change just 5.7% of the time against LHH last year but is now throwing it over 21% of the time this season. The Stuff+ on this pitch has jumped from 70 last year up to 81 this season helping to fuel his breakout.

One underrated part of Suarez’s profile is his ability to eat innings. Suarez is averaging six innings per start this season. He even completed the ever-so-rare complete game against Colorado earlier this year. Running a high innings per start is nothing new for Suarez. His first season in the rotation, Suarez averaged 5.35 innings/start and followed that up with 5.68 innings/start last season. His ability to work deep into games consistently puts him in a position to earn wins and quality starts. Production like this adds additional value in points leagues and Ottoneu formats. Suarez’s dynasty value is rising even higher in those settings.

A mediocre strikeout rate ultimately caps Suarez’s fantasy value. Despite this, his start to the 2024 season has taken him from a fringe asset to a player that fantasy managers know they can rely on. For dynasty managers, Suarez is still just 28 years old and has barely reached 600 innings pitched in his career. While high-velocity, high-spin players have increased their injury risk, Suarez does not fit this profile. He is command over stuff and that provides a bit of comfort for dynasty managers. He remains an undervalued dynasty asset even with his value increasing significantly since the start of 2024.

Shota Imanaga – CHC

The fantasy community is never too sure how to value a player coming from overseas. We have seen successes like Shohei Ohtani and Seiya Suzuki. The fantasy community has also seen players struggle at first and then find their footing like Ha-Seong Kim. The risk though is that players are unable to adjust to Major League competition like Kei Igawa and Kai Matsui. While the spotlight was on Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason, the Cubs signed the second best International Free Agent in Shota Imanaga. After just seven starts, ImanAGA has stolen the spotlight from Yamamoto and has quickly worked his way into the “best pitchers in baseball” conversation.

Imanaga’s dynasty value was relatively unknown two months ago. Sure, he put up strong numbers in Japan, but this is the Major Leagues we are talking about. Already 30 years old, for Imanaga to become top-tier dynasty asset, he would have to perform at a high level instantly. That is exactly what he has done. Through seven starts, Imanaga owns a 5-0 record with a pristine 1.08 ERA. This ERA ranks tops in all of baseball amongst qualified starters. He has not surrendered more than two earned runs in a start with a fantastic 8.6 K/BB ratio. Imanaga’s efficiency has been particularly impressive. In a day and age where bullpens are relied on more heavily, Imanaga has thrown at least six innings in five of seven starts despite topping 90 pitches just three times.

While many critics are quick to point to a small sample size, all of the metrics back up Imanaga’s fast start. If you like FIP, that sits at 2.40. His xERA is even better at 2.32. Turning to Pitcher List’s metric PLA, this sits at a minuscule 1.93. By all means this start appears sustainable. So, how is Imanaga doing it?

Diving in, the fascinating part is that Imanaga’s profile is far from exciting. He is primarily a two-pitch pitcher relying on his fastball and splitter over 85% of the time. The usage percentage on his four-seamer sits over 55% which is the opposite of how the game has been trending. Today’s game is focused around stuff and the sweeper neither of which fit Imanaga’s profile (he does throw a sweeper, just rarely). Overall, Imanaga’s stuff plus grades out as a 97 overall. Far from what fantasy managers should expect from the player who has been the best pitcher in baseball so far.

So, what do dynasty managers do? Imanaga’s owners now have an asset who relies heavily on a 92 mph fastball with mediocre metrics according to Stuff+. However, when you look at PLV, this model loves his fastball. The PLV score on his fastball comes in at 5.73 which ranks in the 99th percentile in baseball. The PLA on the pitch is just 1.20, the lowest number I have ever seen. Part of this is thanks to the late rise on his heater which sits 19% above the league average. The other part is Imanaga’s elite control. Looking at his PLV pitch distribution, Imanaga rarely makes a mistake. This picture is really clear throughout his entire arsenal:

While many pitchers rely on stuff over location, Imanaga is the opposite. He does not need to blow his fastball by hitters at 97 when he can effectively command the pitch exactly where he wants at 92. His sweeper and splitter are not the best pitches you have ever seen, but when located effectively both are unhittable.

Dynasty managers have a difficult decision to make. On one hand, Imanaga’s dynasty value may never be higher. He is the best pitcher in baseball right now and his career ERA is only going to go up from here. At 30 years old, he is not as young as some of the other baseball pitchers and could likely be moved for a fortune. On the other hand, pitching is at a premium and Imanaga does not carry the same profile risks as others when it comes to durability. Many can debate which path forward is the best for dynasty managers to take. The one thing that nobody can debate is that Imanaga’s dynasty value is booming right now.

Honorable Mentions:

Kyle Bradish – BAL

Health does wonders for a player’s fantasy value. In a year where pitchers have been dropping like flies, Kyle Bradish returned to the mound about a week and a half ago looking healthy and ready to contribute to fantasy teams. Just before the season began, Bradish’s redraft and dynasty value tanked when it seemed like he suffered a significant arm injury. Tommy John Surgery likely would have kept Bradish sidelined through at least half of 2025, so avoiding that was a major win for dynasty managers. Still, the “rest-and-recovery” method has been tried time and time again and ends with surgery more often than not it seems. Seeing Bradish take the mound at the Major League level while touching 95 on his fastball helped ease any concern moving forward. His dynasty value is back on the rise after a brief scare to start the season.

Christian Scott – NYM

Scott was featured in the Minor League edition of this article last month but a promotion to the Major League moves him into this article. His Major League debut went about as well as anybody could have expected. He pitched into the seventh inning striking out six and allowing just one earned run. Success in the Minor Leagues is one thing, but pitching well at the Major League level takes Scott’s dynasty value to a whole new level. He averaged 95.4 mph on his four-seamer while his sweeper and slider both generated impressive whiff numbers. Scott looked like the real deal and could quickly become one of the game’s premier pitchers. His dynasty value continues to rise higher and higher each month.

Pitchers with Falling Dynasty Value:

Joe Musgrove – SDP

Since arriving in San Diego, Joe Musgrove has been one of the premier pitchers in baseball. From 2021-2023, Musgrove went 31-19 ranking ninth amongst all qualified pitchers in ERA. His real-life success has been met with skepticism in the fantasy world for years now. His strikeout rate has been below 25% each of the previous two seasons and injuries limited him to just 17 starts last year. Entering his age 31 season, there was already some concern over his future value before the season started. Now, those who sold him in dynasty are thanking the heavens for their fortunate timing.

Musgrave’s 2024 season got off to a disastrous start before the regular season even began. Poor performances during Spring Training are often overlooked and ignored, but Musgrove was dreadful across six innings this spring. His elite control had seemingly disappeared and he surrendered nine earned runs. The results did not get any better once the regular season started. Musgrove allowed nine earned runs through his first two starts. Continued struggles against opposing teams quickly overshadowed one good start against St. Louis. Musgrove’s strike out rate was at its lowest point through eight starts since the 2018 season. His walk rate would also be the second-highest mark of his career.

Part of the story this season has been overdue regression finally catching up to Musgrove. Since joining the Padres, Musgrove has outperformed his ERA indicators each season. While his ERA has sat in the low 3’s, his FIP has been closer to 3.60. His strikeout rates have never been anything to write home about and some sort of regression always felt inevitable. Those willing to run the gamble with Musgrove heading into 2024 are finally seeing their luck run out.

While Musgrove was never somebody who posted jaw-dropping whiff rates, he consistently got hitters to expand the zone. This has been the biggest difference for him so far in 2024. After chasing 35.5% of pitches last season, opposing batters are chasing less than 29% of pitches this season. While the stuff is not noticeably different, the lack of chases are no doubt having a major impact on his performance this season.

This season, the icing on the cake was Musgrove landing on the IL with elbow inflammation. Dynasty managers were already concerned with Musgrove’s long-term outlook and this injury only adds to that concern. Elbow injuries are always scary for a pitcher let alone a pitcher who is already 31 and in the midst of his worst season ever. Despite being one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons, Musgrove’s dynasty value had taken a massive hit this season.

DL Hall – MIL

The jury has been out on Hall since his days as a top prospect. Many scouts praised the quality of his stuff while his critics consistently pointed to his inability to throw strikes. This debate went on for multiple seasons prior to his promotion to the Major Leagues. From 2022-2023, Hall made 30 appearances for the Orioles with all but one coming as a reliever. Although he performed well out of the pen, his dynasty value in Baltimore certainly seemed to take a hit after his move to the pen. This changed this off-season when Hall was dealt as a key piece in the Corbin Burnes trade.  Now in Milwaukee, Hall was in line to prove himself as a starting pitcher and his dynasty value was back on the rise.

Unfortunately, Hall’s transition back into the starting rotation has not gone well.  Through four starts, Hall’s ERA sits at 7.71. The walks are once again an issue as he is walking 11.9% of batters. The primary issue for Hall this season has been falling behind batters. Hall’s first pitch strike rate sits at just 54.8% which is over six percent lower than the league average. Hall’s success rate is drastically different when he gets ahead of batters. Hall has thrown 28% of his pitches ahead in the count. Opposing batters are slashing .190/.250/.190 in such at-bats. On the flip side, 72% of his pitches have come in even or negative counts. The slash line against him in those situations sits at .460/.550/.740. Throwing strikes is the biggest key to Hall’s success and so far he has proven incapable of doing this from the rotation.

One thing that many were confident in prior to his promotion was his stuff. Hall posted strong strikeout rates throughout the Minor Leagues and this continued in the bullpen. Now in the rotation, even the overall stuff has been underwhelming. His Stuff+ currently grades as just a 72 Stuff+ and he is striking out less than 16% of batters. After averaging 95.6 mph on his four-seam fastball last season, Hall’s fastball velocity sits at just 92.3 mph. Each of Hall’s pitches except for the changeup have lost around 3 mph. With poor location, this drop in stuff takes Hall from a serviceable pitcher to a liability on the mound.

Hall’s relief risk is at an all time high. Adding to this is his struggles against right-handed batters. While lefties are hitting for high averages as well, Hall has been able to limit the major mistakes. So far, Hall is yet to allow a home run to a lefty while already allowing four to righties. Hall’s FIP against righties sits at 8.56. To make matters worse, Hall is on the IL without a timetable to return. His future ceiling is becoming a high-leverage reliever, but even that seems to be at risk now. His primary future role could likely be as a left-handed specialist.

Hall’s dynasty value has fallen far from where it stood just two years ago. Being that Hall was the key piece in the trade that sent away Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee is likely to give Hall a longer leash as a starter. Even still, this experiment seems to be doomed from the start. Hall’s stuff and splits play best as a relief pitcher. He is not a player you have to keep rostered in shallow dynasty leagues.

Honorable Mentions:

Hunter Brown– HOU

Hunter Brown was featured in the main section of this article last month. Unfortunately, his season has not improved over the past month as he has struggled on the mound. Across his last four starts, Brown owns a 5.95 ERA (which has managed to bring his season ERA down). He has walked at least two batters in each of those starts struggling to command just about everything. For those dynasty managers hoping things would get better, they certainly have not.  There is a chance you can still sell Brown based on name value alone, but the return would be far less than it would have been two months ago. The best option may be to hold him in hope of better days ahead even if that hope grows smaller with each start.

Aaron Civale– TBR

A midseason trade to Tampa Bay revived interest in Aaron Civale throughout the fantasy baseball community. In 45.1 innings with the Rays last season, Civale’s strikeout rate spiked to 29.3% which was by far the highest of his career. Things got off to an excellent start this season as well. Through four starts, Civale owned a 2.74 ERA, with a 31.1 K%, and a 6.7 BB%. Over the past month though, things have taken a turn for the worse. Civale has given up at least five runs in three of his last four starts while his strikeout rate has dropped significantly. Civale even failed to make it five innings against the White Sox. Although fantasy managers should expect Civale to rebound, his long-term outlook is looking less like a potential front-line starter. This rough patch has many dynasty managers questioning his value which has dropped considerably in the past month.

Featured image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photo by Rich Graessle & Mark Goldman/ Icon Sportswire

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