Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Robbie Ray.
In one of the wildest things to come out in 2021, Robbie Ray established himself as an excellent starter for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ray is an inconsistent pitcher who displayed flashes of potential, but he could never put it together. Well, that was until last season.
His emergence as the AL Cy Young award winner was unexpected. However, he deserved the honor after posting a 13-7 record and an AL-best 2.84 ERA along with an AL-leading 248 strikeouts.
Fantasy managers who made a dart throw selection of Ray probably resulted in some Fantasy championships.
As we head into the 2022 season, who will make the jump and put it all together to be this year's, Robbie Ray?
2022 Fantasy Baseball: This Year's Robbie Ray
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Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox
Dylan Cease recorded his seventh career double-digit strikeout game and sixth this season. pic.twitter.com/X8lgEcJYgl
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 9, 2021
Dylan Cease was known to have a live arm, but he was never consistent and command issues. Finally, in the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we saw Cease make strides, but it was significant, and it was enough small sample size that you wanted to see it again to confirm he was progressing.
Last season, the White Sox came with a new attitude thanks to their new manager in Tony LaRussa. In addition, LaRussa brought in new coaching staff, including pitching coach Ethan Katz. That combo allowed Cease to make the jump from thrower to pitcher.
The right-hander posted career-best stats in his third season, going 13-7 in his 32 starts and finishing with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.249 WHIP. More impressively, we witnessed staggering strikeout numbers. He finished seventh in the league with 226 strikeouts and led the American League with a 12.3 K/9. Cease also ended with the third-highest WAR (4.4) among AL pitchers.
Dylan Cease was unbelievable last season. I see no reason why he can not build upon the previous season's success on his way to the 2022 AL Cy Young award.
Josiah Gray, SP, Washington Nationals
My darkhorse pick is the Washington Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray. He was the 2019 Minor League pitcher of the year in the Dodgers' system but was one of the key players in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade. After the trade, Gray was immediately inserted into Scherzer's rotation spot.
Gray posted a 5.31 ERA and 1.34 WHIP while striking out 63 batters across 62.2 innings. The Nationals were cautious with Gray, allowing him to only average 5.22 innings per start.
Gray showed promise in his 13 starts even though his overall numbers are not overwhelming. He had a strikeout above nine utilizing a 95 mph fastball and pair of breaking ball pitches that produced better than 45 Whiff%. He is prone to giving up the long ball at 6.2 HR%. However, he still allowed only .238 BA which
Gray will need to improve his pitch location and mix, but he has the talent to be a potential top of the rotation starter. He is a pitcher to watch moving forward.
Jordan Montgomery, SP, New York Yankees
Jordan Montgomery is the New York Yankees' second-best starter behind Gerritt Cole. The southpaw finished with a 6-7 record and a 3.83 ERA, along with a 1.28 WHIP in his 30 starts last season. He struck out 167 batters in 157.1 innings and owned a 9.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Ironically, he produced the identical FIP (3.69) as the American Leauge Cy Young winner Robbie Ray.
Montgomery has a five-pitch arsenal, but his two best pitches are his changeup, which produces a 39.2 Whiff% and .187 BA. The big lefty also has an imposing curveball, which produces a 42.9 Whiff%, and hitters are only .191 against.
Montgomery has finally found his place in the Yankees rotation and fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery in 2018. I love seeing the progression and confidence in Montgomery last season. Montgomery continues his ascension to provide double-digit wins and near 200 strikeouts to compete for the AL Cy Young award in 2022.
Who is this Year's Robbie Ray?
And the winner is...
It is hard for me to pick anyone but Dylan Cease. His 31.9 K% and the advanced metrics scream pitching ace. Batters only hit .223 against the right-hander while producing a .210 XBA. He has three pitches that strikeout batters at better than a 40.5 Whiff%, which does not include his 96.7 mph fastball.
The bottom line is that Dylan Cease is no longer a thrower but a pitcher who will be this year's, Robbie Ray.
Check out the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit from Fantasy Six Pack.