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Fantasy Baseball News Roundup: Lance Lynn, Dane Dunning, Raisel Iglesias, Lucas Sims

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Dec 8, 2020

This isn’t going to be a normal baseball offseason. News has been slow to trickle in, and we’re already approaching mid-December. Still, that won’t stop me from giving a fantasy spin when transactions are announced, and we’ve actually had a couple of “big” moves come from the virtual winter meetings.

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Lance Lynn (SP – CWS) Traded To The South Side

This is the biggest move of the offseason thus far, as Lynn has been a legitimate Cy Young Contender ever since arriving in Texas prior to the 2019 season. Lynn was always an interesting pitcher throughout his early-career tenure with the Cardinals, but he began using a different pitch mix upon arriving to Texas that has completely elevated his game:

To simplify, Lynn was a sinker-baller early on who began using his four-seam and cutter more to generate strikeouts with the Rangers. It led to a fifth-place Cy Young finish in 2019 and a sixth-place finish this past summer. During this time he leads baseball in innings (292 1/3) and ranks sixth in strikeouts (335).

Lynn’s Baseball Savant metrics don’t jump off the page aside from the 91st percentile spin rate on his fastball. This is a veteran starter who continuously logs six or more innings while the rest of the baseball world limits the amount of times a starter faces the opposing lineup. This puts Lynn in prime position for wins, which are becoming tougher and tougher to find these days, yet they remain crucial for fantasy production.

Speaking of fantasy, through 39 NFBC drafts since October 1st, Lynn is the 63rd player being drafted. He’s being selected around other starters such as Zach Plesac, Corbin Burnes, and Dinelson Lamet. The analysis here is pretty straightforward. Lynn is the “safer, sturdier” fantasy option than the three upside starters who were previously named – yet none of them will come close to the workload Lynn can offer. I’m giving him a slight bump in my rankings upon arriving to the White Sox, as he should only receive more chances at wins on a better team. He’ll remain a draft day target for me should he stay at this current ADP.

Dane Dunning (SP – TEX) Sent To Texas

In return for one year of Lynn’s services, the Texas Rangers received 25-year-old RHP Dane Dunning and 2019 sixth-round pick LHP Avery Weems. The fantasy focus here is entirely on Dunning, who flashed some upside over the first seven starts of his big league career, but who ultimately profiles as a mid-to-back end rotation piece. This is due to a modest 92 mph fastball, though on the plus side he has a diverse arsenal, which is essential for being viewed as a long-term starter.

In Dunning’s 34 innings this year he posted a 3.97 ERA to go along with a 1.12 WHIP and a 35:13 K:BB ratio. However, his swinging-strike rate declined as the year unfolded:

Dane Dunning 2020 Swinging Strike Rate
First three starts 17.5%
Final four starts 6.9%

 
Curiously, Dunning minimized the use of his slider after those first three starts, as he went from using it 27.9% of the time down to 17.2% of the time. Dunning’s slider had a 43.5% whiff rate last year. He’s still developing, so it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to experiment with different pitch mixes, but Dunning will need to get back to what was working early on if he’s going to pay off as a fantasy sleeper entering 2021.

Raisel Iglesias (RP – LAA) Trade Changes Closer Landscape

In a move that can only be explained as a salary dump, the Cincinnati Reds are trading closer Raisel Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels for Noe Ramirez and a player to be named later. This comes on the heels of the Reds non-tendering Archie Bradley, so it’s clear that the organization is looking to cut costs in the bullpen. Luckily for them, they still have two high-end relievers in Lucas Sims and Amir Garrett, but we’ll get to them in a second.

Let’s start with the 30-year-old Iglesias, who arguably had the best season of his career during the truncated 2020 campaign. Iglesias pitched 23 innings while posting a sharp 31:5 K:BB ratio to go along with a 2.47 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. If we are going to mention “small sample” when discussing 2020 for hitters and starters, then we need to scream it at the top of our lungs when it comes to relievers. His Baseball Savant page sure looks good, though.

Assuming he is used as the primary closer for Joe Maddon’s Angels, Iglesias will enter 2021 as a top-12 reliever for fantasy purposes. This move doesn’t change his value much, so let’s get back to who he leaves behind in Cincinnati.

When asked about the back of the team’s bullpen, Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall mentioned both Sims and Garrett as candidates for late-inning duties. Again, small sample, but Sims kind of broke out this summer. The 2012 first-round selection of the Braves posted a 2.45 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. His xBA, xERA, xwOBA, fastball spin, and curveball spin all ranked in the 98th percentile or better. As Eno Sarris of The Athletic notes below, that curveball is quite good!

As a right-handed pitcher, Sims would be the more traditional fill-in for the Reds. That doesn’t make Garrett, the 28-year-old southpaw, any less interesting. Garrett continued a four-year trend of increasing his strikeout rate in 2020, which rose all the way to 37.7% this season. It was only 18 1/3 innings but he also cut down on his walk rate. He also got hit harder.

The takeaway is that either of these two would be highly interesting fantasy assets should they win the closing job. If drafting early, I’d lean Sims until we get more information. Since the Reds are cutting payroll I expect them to eventually roll with him or Garrett, as it wouldn’t make sense to bring in another option after cutting ties with Iglesias and Bradley. Expect both Sims’ and Garrett’s ADPs to rise considerably over the next few months.

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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