July 2, 2022

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Five guys … to draft after pick 500 who could help your rotation

Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There are a myriad of ways to fill out your rotation, and depending on your league set-up, a number of strategies can create a pathway to success. Obviously, none of the names in this article are aces. If you’re going after pick 500, you are a pitcher that has much to prove. So why should you care about these guys?

A popular strategy in Draft & Hold formats is to draft a few good pitchers early, then hammer bats throughout the middle of the draft, and attack your rotation with volume with a bunch of late pitching picks. The pitchers on this list are perfect for that strategy. These arms are also great for dynasty leagues where the rosters run deeper, AL- or NL- Only leagues, or – for the average fantasy player – they are good names to put on your watch list to monitor throughout the season. If they make adjustments and/or get the right opportunity, these Five Guys have the talent to be important rotation pieces in any fantasy baseball league.

1. Mitch White, P, LAD – For the last couple years, I played in a 30-team fantasy league with full rosters and deep reserves. In a league that deep, you really need to mine for talent. So I ended up rostering White as a Dodgers reliever, and I liked what I saw in games. He has a smooth confident delivery, and seems to have a plan on the mound. He’s not just out there throwing. As I dug deeper, I liked what I saw from his minor league numbers. Over his pro career, White strikes out around a batter per inning, limits HR, and has decent control. In 2021, the Dodgers needed him in the rotation, and he held his own. I anticipate more of the same in 2022, as the Dodgers current projected rotation includes David Price, Tony Gonsolin, and Andrew Heaney. White should get the opportunity at some point this season in the rotation on a winning team in a pitcher-friendly park, and he has shown he can hang. I have drafted him in multiple redraft leagues, and also traded for him in dynasty leagues this offseason. He is officially one “my dudes.” NFBC ADP: 557.

2. Cade Cavalli, P, WAS – Cavalli is one of the highest ranked starting pitching prospects in baseball. In the latest update to my dynasty rankings, I have him as the 8th best pitching prospect and 53rd best overall prospect in the game. He started in High-A last year and ended 2021 in Triple-A, pitching more than 120 IP along the way, so he is ready for a full clip of starter innings. Cavalli has already pitched at the highest level of the minors, and turns 24 this season. Given the q̶u̶e̶s̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ unquestionably terrible status of the Nationals rotation, I’m betting that Cavalli gets at least half a season worth of starts in 2022. Hell, if we had a full Spring Training, I think he he could have been on the roster from Opening Day. NFBC ADP: 583.

3. Reynaldo López, P, CHW – We’ve been waiting for López to fulfill his talent for years, and most fantasy managers had given up prior to 2021. This is not surprising given the combined disasters of 2019 + 2020. But last season he was able to improve his control, resulting in a very attractive 3.43 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. His K%-BB% was around 19% (by far his best career mark), another positive sign. But before you start thinking he is the Official White Sox Breakout Starter of 2022 (after Lucas Giolito in 2020 and Carlos Rodón in 2021), López remains a two-pitch pitcher and he benefited tremendously from a .222 BABIP last season. That being said, his two pitches are fastball + slider, and these days that can work as an SP. Currently, the Southsiders are relying on the corpse of Dallas Keuchel in their rotation, so opportunity might come knocking sooner than later for Rey-Lo. NFBC ADP: 549.

4. Nick Lodolo, P, CIN – Not as famous as fellow pitching prospect and teammate Hunter Greene, whose triple-digit heat landed him a Sports Illustrated cover, Lodolo is more of a throwback pitcher. He has exquisite command of his fastball and slider that he uses with great efficiency. Lodolo had some blister issues that turned into shoulder soreness late last season. This led to some prospect analysts like Keith Law throwing him off their top 100 list. Others have stuck with Lodolo as reports are he is healthy entering 2022 and will compete for a rotation spot. And that’s before the Reds trade away their veteran starters to better align their payroll to their (alleged) resources. NFBC ADP: 542.

5. A.J.Puk, P, OAK – Puk has elite stuff. We’re talking about four pitches with above-average potential. That is the rare profile of a true ace. It led to him being drafted #6 overall and landing on top prospect lists everywhere. But it seems he just continues to get hurt at every turn of his professional career, and the A’s don’t seem quite sure what to do with him. He enters 2022 healthy, and should get a shot in the rotation at some point this season. Alternatively, he could continue to serve in the bullpen. In that case, he has the profile and pedigree of a closer. And Lou Trivino is just begging to be replaced. NFBC ADP: 561.

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