It can get easy to be “lost in the mix” on a bad team. Promising players who ball out on a team easily out of the playoffs don’t get the same media recognition as players on playoff teams. This is the case with our next 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Nick Lodolo
If Lodolo was pitching in New York, LA, Boston, or any other large market, he would be as hyped up as almost any young pitcher in baseball. However, Cincinnati’s 2022 season was about as gloomy as the skies in nearby Cleveland. This caused for little media attention to be placed on the Reds.
Furthermore, what media attention the Reds did receive was usually by way of fellow young starter Hunter Greene. While Greene’s consistent 100+ mph fastballs are obviously impressive, it kind of overshadows Lodolo’s feats on the mound.
2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Nick Lodolo
In his rookie campaign, the towering lefty proved why he’d been a well regarded prospect in baseball circles for the last few years. While not high up on Dave Eddy's Dynasty Rankings, Lodolo is still a great pitcher.
Lodolo posted a 3.66 ERA over 103 innings in 2022. This was good for a very solid 122 ERA+. While many young pitchers have a habit of walking a ton of guys, Lodolo’s 3.4 BB/9 is more than respectable.
However, Lodolo really shone through his strikeout numbers. He struck out 131 batters over 103 innings, earning a great 11.4 K/9. This number was third among all rookies with at least 100 innings pitched, just trailing the aforementioned Greene and the NL ROTY runner-up Spencer Strider.
How was Lodolo able to rack up all of these strikeouts? Unlike Strider and Greene, Lodolo can’t reach back and throw triple digits whenever he wants. However, Lodolo relied on incredible break to keep hitters off balance.
In 2022, Lodolo threw a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a curve and a changeup. While it is common for pitchers to have good break on one or two pitches, having four nasty pitches is very rare.
This is exactly the case with Lodolo. All of Lodolo’s pitches broke at least three inches more than league average (via Fangraphs). Baseball is described as a game of inches, and this three inch difference is enough to change home runs into strikeouts.
Nick Lodolo, Vicious Breaking Ball. 😤 pic.twitter.com/38MlFtFYsi
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 26, 2023
While all of these pitches are vital to Lodolo’s success; the four-seamer is especially important. As stated earlier, Lodolo’s pitch mix is a four-seam fastball, sinker, curveball, and changeup. Besides the four-seamer, all of these pitches have a downward break. This creates the need for a pitch with backspin, causing the pitch to have a “rising” feel to it.
Fortunately, Lodolo’s fastball has a ton of backspin (102% more break than league average).
This all culminated in tons of success late in the year for Lodolo. In September, he became the fourth lefty since 1901 to record 11 strikeouts and no walks in consecutive games. Striking guys out is impressive, but to do it without walking anyone is amazing.
Mlb.com agrees, stating: “Lodolo's spring stat line backs up the stellar projections he's getting for 2023 -- Steamer thinks he'll break out as a Top 15 pitcher in the Majors and has him racking up over 200 strikeouts. The 25-year-old left-hander's stuff looks great in Spring Training -- he's getting big-time break on all his pitches, just like he did as a rookie in 2022.”
Most strikeouts/9 among rookie starters in MLB history:
1.) Spencer Strider (Year: 2022; 13.8 SO/9)
2.) Kerry Wood (Year: 1998; 12.6 SO/9
3.) Hunter Greene (Year: 2022 - 11.7 SO/9)
4.) Nick Lodolo (Year: 2022 - 11.4 SO/9)
*minimum 15 GS
3 of the top-4 happened last year. pic.twitter.com/IGKhtmJ3wt
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 7, 2023
What will you have to give up to get Lodolo?
Young, promising pitchers are royalty in Dynasty leagues. No matter how underrated Lodolo is, it will cost a pretty penny to trade for him. Prepare yourself to give up at least one starter to go after Lodolo.
However, it is definitely worth it for such a promising player like Lodolo, who seems to have everything going for him. He throws in the mid 90’s has impeccable control, and combines a funky delivery with great movement to get strikeouts.
It is important to trade for guys before they become superstars. This is the perfect time to jump on that chance with Lodolo. He ended last year on a great note, and has started this year on a tear in spring. Despite this, Lodolo is still flying under the radar. Trading for Lodolo could be the league winning move everyone looks for.