Dynasty Baseball Major League Pitcher Performance Report

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.

The dynasty team is working hard to bring you the latest and most relevant content for all things dynasty. Last season, we ran performance reports combining them to include both Major and Minor League players. This season we are splitting them up into two articles to bring even more content. I have the honor of handling pitchers for this season and there has already been plenty of fluctuation in value early on. Keep reading to see who is trending up and who is seeing their dynasty value trend in the wrong direction.

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


Kutter Crawford – BOS


There were a few different Boston pitchers that could have been put into this slot. Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck both have strong cases that their dynasty value is on the rise, but I went with a third option instead. Kutter Crawford (as my computer continues to auto-correct to butter) entered the season with plenty of fantasy buzz, but how often do we actually see those off-season picks click? Well, Crawford is clicking early on and his dynasty value is quickly rising.

Through four starts now, Crawford has surrendered just one earned run. For those of you saying “small sample size”, let’s dig a bit deeper. Crawford has quietly been pitching well for some time now. Over his last four starts in 2023, Crawford posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out 33.7% of the batters he faced. If you take out two clunkers on August 30th and September 5th of last season, Crawford would have finished the season with a 2.58 ERA across his last 10 starts. Obviously removing bad games is not a great way to evaluate value, but it does emphasize the point that this is nothing new. Crawford has been improving last season and is showing no signs of slowing down now.

How is Crawford doing it? This season Boston has tried to push their pitchers to rely on the sweeper and Crawford is no exception. He has increased his usage of this pitch from 6.7% last season to 35% this year. The pitch is generating a whiff 29.1% of the time. This sweeper plus the rest of his deep arsenal has allowed him to maintain a strikeout rate north of 28% despite pedestrian fastball velocity.

Crawford may not be as young as some of the other names gaining more attention in the dynasty community, but that does not mean he should be ignored. Crawford has turned into a strong starting pitcher option and is quickly gaining more value. Should he be expected to run a sub-1 ERA for the rest of the season? Obviously not, but  the sweeper is legit and he should continue finding success throughout the rest of the season. At 28 years old, he should maintain this success for several seasons and be a reliable dynasty starter.


Jordan Hicks – SFG


Jordan Hicks seemed well on his way to becoming one of the game’s most dominant high-leverage relief pitchers at the beginning of his career. Hicks converted six saves across 77 innings during his rookie season and converted 14 more in just 28.2 innings back in 2019. High velocity with a filthy slider gave Hicks all of the makings of a dominant closer. Injuries and a failed stint as a starter derailed Hicks’ career from 2020-2022 before he seemingly got things back on track last season.

Hicks pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last season posting the highest strikeout rate of his career. He joined the Blue Jays at the trade deadline and finished the season with 12 saves. A free-agent, Hicks generated plenty of buzz throughout the league, but ultimately signed with the Giants for one primary reason.

The Giants offered Hicks a chance to start. Hicks has tried a couple of times to make it as a starting pitcher at the Major League level, but this time things are off to a much better start. Through three starts, Hicks has surrendered just two earned runs. Most importantly, he has pitched at least five innings in all three of his starts.

Transforming from a bullpen role into a successful starting pitcher instantly has Hicks’ dynasty value rising. Although it seems that he has been around forever, Hicks is still only 27 years old. He is signed in San Francisco for another three seasons after this one which is the perfect place to pitch.

Digging into Hicks a bit deeper, the introduction of a splitter has provided a major boost to his arsenal. Previously a two-pitch pitcher, the splitter gives Hicks a third pitch to attack opposing batters with. The early returns have been fantastic as the pitch is generating a whiff rate of 46.7%. His overall PLV of 5.35 ranks in the 85th percentile in all of baseball.

While the Giants are likely to impose some sort of inning restrictions on Hicks, he still has seen a major increase in his dynasty value. If the team can get him between 100-120 innings this season, he should shake any restrictions in the years moving forward. Hicks has three plus offerings and should see his strikeout rate tick up as the season moves along.


Honorable Mentions:


Garrett Crochet– CWS


I could write a whole bunch on Garrett Crochet… oh wait… I already did! Crochet falls under the honorable mentions due to his inclusion in the dynasty buys and sells article which you can check out here. Crochet’s dynasty value is not just rising thanks to his phenomenal baseball card statistics. The aspect of his game that really has him rising is the quality of his stuff. Sure, his innings are likely to be capped this season but that should not stop dynasty managers from buying in. He has top-10 starting pitcher potential over the next few seasons.


Cody Bradford– TEX


This is the one name that was not at all on my radar entering the season. Bradford was the team’s sixth round back in 2019 and made his Major League debut in May of last season. He posted a 5.30 ERA across 56 innings last season leading to little fan far entering 2024. The departure of Jordan Montgomery and injuries to several staff members allowed Bradford to retain a starting rotation spot this season and he has not disappointed. He is 3-0 through three starts showing off some of the best control in baseball. The stuff is not overpowering, but his command plus extension help him to profile as a back-of-the-rotation starter. This is certainly a large boost to his dynasty value compared to where it was a couple of months ago.


Pitchers with Falling Dynasty Value:


Max Fried– ATL


Baseball can be a funny sport sometimes. Looking at the box score, Max Fried’s season has not gotten off to the best start. He failed to make it through the first inning against Philadelphia, he then gave up seven runs to Arizona before finally settling down in a win over Miami. How different would his season look right now if he got a called strike three against Nick Castellanos to get out of the first inning unscathed against the Phillies? The pitch was nearly down the middle, but a missed call from the umpire created a spiral of events that have many in the dynasty community questioning how to value Fried moving forward.

When healthy, Fried has been one of the most consistent pitchers in all of baseball for the past several years. Dating back to the start of 2020, Fried owns the fourth-lowest ERA amongst all qualified starting pitchers. Lower than Corbin Burns, lower than Zack Wheeler, and lower than Gerrit Cole. He might not post the same gaudy strikeout numbers as some of those pitchers, but it is hard to argue with his consistency.

Should dynasty managers really let three starts change his long-term outlook? The simple answer is no. Digging into Fried’s stuff, there is nothing that looks alarming. His overall PLV through two starts is actually higher (5.2) than it was last year (4.93). His four-seam fastball velocity has remained stable sitting right around 94 mph. He is even relying more heavily on a sweeper he introduced last season which is generating a whiff rate of 27.8%. A second put-away pitch should help Fried increase his strikeout rate which currently sits at a career-low 17.9%.

Although Fried has dealt with durability issues in the past, his arsenal is built to sustain long-term success. He does not throw the hardest, or generate the most spin on his pitches. Instead, Fried relies heavily on location and pitch-mix to keep batters off balance and produce weak contact. On paper, Fried’s walk rate is up this season but most of that is from the three walks he undeservedly issued on Opening Weekend. He has only given up one walk in each of his last two starts.

Anytime a pitcher starts a season like Fried has, their dynasty value always is going to drop. This is a product of Social Media, group-think, and the knee-jerk reaction style of fantasy many people play. For some managers though, this creates an intriguing and rare opportunity to buy into Fried. While one manager may be ready to throw in the towel, you can buy in low and reap the rewards later. I am not worried about Fried and think his dynasty value dropping is unjustified.


Hunter Brown– HOU


While there have been several pitchers who have disappointed early on in 2024, few came with the offseason hype that Brown did. Entering his second full season, many in the fantasy community expected Brown to continue taking steps forward. At just 25 years old, he profiled as a safe reliable arm for dynasty managers with plenty of upside in the tank. The results? The season could not be off to a worse start. Brown has lasted just 7.2 innings across his first three starts and many are even considering him a drop in redraft. Dynasty managers are being forced to reevaluate Brown’s status and fantasy value moving forward.

Early on this season, Brown’s command has completely disappeared. When coming through the Minor Leagues, there were some concerns over Brown’s ability to consistently throw strikes but much of that had been put to rest over the past two seasons. Those concerns are now resurfacing in 2024 as Brown’s walk rate has jumped up to 13.2%. Digging in a bit, the issue is not that Brown is throwing less strikes. In fact, his pitch sequencing looks better than ever. He is throwing more first-pitch strikes and has even increased his overall strike percentage (which could be leading to his batted-ball issues). The issue is that hitters simply are not chasing any of his pitches.

Last season, Brown generated a chase rate on 27.5% of the pitches he threw. His knuckle-curve in particular generated a chase rate north of 33% last season. This season, opponents are only chasing 21.4% of the time on this pitch. The same issue is occurring with his splitter. Opponents chased 25% of the time last season and that number is down to 12.5% this year.

Is Brown tipping his breaking pitches? I watched some tape and I do not think that is it. For his curve, he is throwing too many strikes. Last season, Brown only left his curve over the heart of the plate 4.8% of the time. This season his curve has been left over the heart 7.2%. His in-zone rate on the pitch has increased by nearly 9%. Why chase when you can do damage on the pitch in the zone?

As for his splitter, he simply has no command over it. Over the past two seasons, Brown’s heart % + waste % sat at 1.2%. He rarely threw a non-competitive splitter or left it over the center of the plate. This season that number is nearly six times higher at 6.7%. When Brown throws this pitch for a strike, it is right where a batter wants it. When he throws it for a ball, the pitch is not going to generate a chase. This is why his PLV bad pitch percentage on his splitter sits at 41.2%.

So, what should dynasty managers do? It is clear that Brown’s dynasty value is trending in the wrong direction but should managers be selling low? At this point, managers need to be holding for better days. Brown’s value has never been lower and he will not continue pitching to a 16.43 ERA. That being said, it is fair to readjust expectations moving forward. There is a good possibility that the 2022 season was Brown’s ceiling. He lacks true feel for his breaking pitches which will prevent him from posting the K/BB ratio needed to become a front-end fantasy starter.

Honorable Mentions:

Shane Bieber– CLE

When first planning out this article, the thought was that Bieber would find himself in the risers section. Bieber’s season got off to a great start and dynasty managers started realizing that he is only 28 years old. Then, out of nowhere, news broke that Bieber is going to undergo Tommy John Surgery shelving him for the remainder of the season. By the time we see Bieber take a Major League mound again he will likely be 30 years old and will not be fully built back up until his age 31 season. For a pitcher who entered the season with long-term projection concerns, this injury does no favors to his dynasty value.


Aaron Nola– PHI


For those who have watched Nola’s starts, the weather has done him no favors. Nola has consistently dealt with rain and wind in all three of his starts which has led to some inconsistency in both his stuff and performance. In today’s day and age, velocity and stuff is quickly picked up upon throughout the fantasy baseball community. As a result, it seems many throughout the community are down on Nola more than before. Decreasing fantasy and dynasty value might not always be deserved, but is a product of groupthink. While I am not as concerned as some in the fantasy community, it is undeniable that his 1.25 K/BB ratio through his first three starts has his dynasty value trending in the wrong direction.

Note: This section was written before Nola’s dominant performance on Monday night. Granted, Nola did face the Rockies but he was excellent on the mound putting together his best start yet.


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