In a Fantasy baseball pitching environment defined by specialization, Lance Lynn reliably provides something few other starter jugs can: Volume. And he has given more than that in the last two years Rangers, rejects his choice of pitch to maximize the amount of swing and miss in his game. Together, his perseverance and newfound dominance have placed him among the best of the best in both real life and Fantasy, where he was the No. 13 scorer on the starting pitcher in 2019 and the No. 6 scorer in 2020.
Now he’s on his way White Sox in a trade reported late Monday. At first glance, the move should benefit him by moving him from the second lowest scoring team in 2020 to the fifth highest scoring team, but it’s not as easy as that. While still much more of a bat than in his younger days, Lynn took a step back in this area in 2020, leaving him with a worrying 4.34 xFIP that was the second highest in his career.
However, Statcast’s 3.26 xERA paints a much brighter picture, and of course all these calculations are obscured by the fog of a season that is too short. Yet the lingering notions explain why I am reluctant to elevate Lynn beyond where I already had him, 17. at starting jug.
But if things go well for him, the benefits of workload (he threw six plus innings in 11 of his 13 starts and seven plus innings in five of them) can make all the difference, so it’s not surprising to see the White Sox give up. legitimate asset for him, even with only one year left on the contract. Lynn gives an endgame hopefully another strike arm at the top of the starting rotation – a unit currently led by Lucas Giolito and Dallas cuddle, med Dylan quits and Michael kopech both able to take a big step forward.
But for a short distance in 2020, it looked like Danish dunning, the aforementioned asset that went back to Rangers in the deal, came to skip the latter two and become the third strike arm in the White Sox rotation. He had earned high marks for the command and pitch range that came up through minors, and collected a 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 10.2 K / 9 over parts of three seasons, and arrived with a blossom, delivering a 17 , 9% fluctuating strike rate (which had ranked second among qualifiers) over his first three starts. They were short, on average less than five innings between them, but they were sparkling, and they made me rank him up there with Ian anderson and Sixto Sanchez among beginners.
But then a funny thing happened: Over the next four starts, Crater’s swinging strike cratered to 6.9%, who would have ranked dead last among qualifiers. It was easy enough to overlook when the first two of these starts (zero earned races in six innings and one earned race in seven) saw him go deeper into the game, but when he collapsed over his next two starts, it was not a proper mystery why. The right one had taken advantage of a pitch-to-contact approach, and all the contact was about to catch him.
So was it a conscious decision, or did he just run out of steam? Judging by the change in pitch choice that coincided directly with the change in oscillating stroke frequency, I would say the former. His best results came on the four-seater and the slider, which he presented more prominently in the first three starts, and threw about a quarter each. But he faded them for more of his two-seamer and rebound over the last four starts.
My suspicion is that pitch coach Don Cooper, old school, who has since been released, encouraged Dunning to pitch to contact so he could go deeper into his starts, and that was exactly what happened in the beginning. But pitching to contact is generally not a wise strategy in today’s power-hungry environment. And judging by the first three starts, Dunning is too talented to have to resort to that.
I suspect the Rangers recognize just as much for giving up their best trade for him, so while I had soured on Dunning as a sleeper after the gangbusters began their careers, and basically put him in 66th place in my ranking pitcher for 2021, has renewed optimism for him with this agreement, and can probably fit him into the top 60 now.