Please see our player page for Cody Morris to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

Even as 2022 was a great season for the Cleveland Guardians, their future looks brighter all the time. Nobody has more ready-soon, major-league-level starting pitchers in their system, which is a nice fit because you could make a case that nobody is better at developing pitchers, particularly in the early stages of their major league careers. 

 

1. RHP Daniel Espino | 22 | AA | 2024

Injuries kept Espino sidelined for much of 2022, but he was around long enough to leave a loud impression, striking out 35 batters in 18.1 Double-A innings and posting a 0.71 WHIP across those four starts. He’s listed at 6’2” 225 lbs and looks like a bodybuilder. Upside is as high as any pitcher in the minors thanks to an 80-grade fastball and double-plus slider. I’ve got 2024 listed as the ETA just because he hasn’t thrown that many innings, and the team is deep in pitchers both in the majors and on the cusp, but Espino could almost certainly help the major league club this season if he’s healthy.

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*takes a long inhale* You smell that? No, not your sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the last week. Well, them, but I’m talking about the smell of the 2023 fantasy baseball draft season. So fresh, so clean. So ulcer, so sniped. It’s good to be back to one of the best times of the year. It’s so much better than “Playing your 9th outfielder because everyone is hurt” time of the year. I’ve even begun rolling out my 2023 fantasy baseball rankings on our Patreon. So, me and a bunch of Razzball commenters got together and took part in an NFBC Draft. Will get another draft started prolly around January/February, if you wanna take part, and, of course, Happy New Year (of drafting fantasy baseball)! Anyway, here’s my NFBC 2023 fantasy baseball draft recap; it’s a 15-team, two-catcher, draft and hold league that goes 50 rounds and has no waivers:

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The good folks at Razzball seem to believe Shohei Ohtani > Aaron Judge when it comes to MVP (or at least most do, anyway, without taking a formal poll). It’s possible to recognize Judge’s ridiculous/fantastic/phenomenal/etc season while also believing that the things Ohtani has done this season and last are historical outliers that still trump […]

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Yesterday, Aaron Judge went 4-for-5, 3 runs, 4 RBIs with his 58th and 59th homer, hitting .316, as he tightens his claim on the AL MVP. I’m Team Ohtani, but I will say that the Yankees are so bad outside of Aaron Judge — Giancarlo’s hitting .209! Judge for MVP is a perfectly reasonable argument to make. He truly is having an amazing season. On the Player Rater, he has about twice as much home run value as the third best home run hitter in the league, Yordan Alvarez. That is truly remarkable. But, just because that’s remarkable doesn’t mean he’s going to get to 74 homers for the home run record. National sportswriters counting down Aaron Judge homers like he’s not 14 away from the record with 16 games to play are just trying to generate clicks. Also, anyone saying Maris’s record is the real record is having a break from reality, let them be. It’s dangerous to wake them from their dream state. By the by, the case for Ohtani is quite simple — he’s a top 5 starter and a top 10 hitter. It will be Aaron Judge though, I’m not living in denial. Too much heat on Judge this year. For 2023 fantasy, Aaron Judge is gonna be so fascinating. Wouldn’t be shocked if we see him at number one overall for some, and as late as ten overall if he signs with a lesser team. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Feels like a rare thing when baseball gets something right. We could build a case against the new CBA, I think, but it would have to be stacked up against an ideal world. In comparison to the collective bargaining agreement that came before it, this one feels like a dream. Every other day, another wave of prospects gets called up, whether to push for the playoffs or just to settle in before next season. 

Red Sox 1B Triston Casas came up a bit later than expected, but that’s partly due to an early slump and an injury that cost him almost two months in the middle of the season. The team calling him up now feels like an indication they hope to open next season with him in the majors despite adding Eric Hosmer’s salary at the deadline. Maybe they can find a dance partner for him this winter. Maybe they intend to use both, but Casas can almost certainly claim an Opening Day roster spot with a warm September. In 40 games after coming off the Triple-A injured list in July, he slashed .309/.416/.537 with six home runs and a 14.6%-to-19.7% walk-to-strikeout rate.

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Houston relievers Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly are scheduled to hit free agency this winter. The pair has 35 saves between them this season. Maybe Houston brings someone back. Maybe they anoint Hector Neris (or Ryne Stanek) the guy coming out of camp. Regardless of what the team does, it’s difficult to envision a scenario that excludes RHP Bryan Abreu from the ninth-inning picture, unless you’re building the scenario around injury or poor performance. Command has eluded Abreu at times, so that’s not out of the question, but you could say the same about a lot of relievers. And just so you know, this whole post idea sprung from the fact that Abreu was available in a lot of my leagues despite looking like an obvious closer in 2023 and beyond. 

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To win most dynasty leagues, especially ones that have been around for a few years, you need elite pitching. In my experience, farming prospects is not the most efficient way to accrue elite pitchers. It can work in fits and starts, but you’ll probably need to supplement your staff via the trade market, swapping sizzling young bats for established WHIP suppressors. This winter I saw Elly De La Cruz and Andy Pages traded for Tarik Skubal, and that’s a fun version of this kind of trade: huge upside all around, good chance both teams are happy with it in two years. In my spot on the win curve, I prefer Skubal, but I see the rationale for getting two topside hitters, who you could argue should be swapped instead for an older arm with a better WHIP history. Gotta throw them bones sometimes to win it all. No such thing as a risk-free trade. 

A third way is to never pay for pitching. I’ve yet to put it into function, but I’d like to try it someday. I’ve developed a skill (or perceived skill, anyway, good fight confidence in the words of Shea Serrano) for scooping the Quantrills and Gausmans of the world at the right moment. I also like looking for the Luis Garcia types. This year’s candidates include Cody Morris, Jayden Murray, Jacob Lopez, and Matt Canterino, among others, and I’m holding last year’s versions like Peyton Battenfield and Joe Ryan. I think maybe this is the way, especially in deep leagues where it’s exceptionally hard to build a well-rounded offense, but I’d be nervous to try it in full. Probably I’d break down and start looking for veteran arms on the cheap. Adam Wainwright has been ridiculous the past two seasons, for example, though you could mark him as yet another reason to never really pony up for the big arm when a team in your league decides to shop Gerrit Gole or Max Scherzer. 

It’s hard for me to ignore that kind of moment. Feels like dynasty leagues are often decided in tiny windows when someone decides to make a big sell-off. Typically worth your hustle to get an offer in, even if just to provide some kind of competition in the pricing. This is in an ideal world where you have any idea such a sell-off is happening. In my experience, it’s often kept secret until suddenly Trea Turner has been dealt for Blake Snell a half hour after the midnight trade deadline. Circling back the original thought, it might be better to just let it go. Over the past few years in a 15-teamer, I have traded for Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Shane Bieber, Chris Bassitt, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, all shortly before their injury or, in Darvish’s and Snell’s case, their dip in production. The Buy High-Priced-Pitching strategy has not been kind to me. The toll of talent lost is incredible: Vlad Junior, Bo Bichette, Ozzie Albies, Julio Urias, Will Smith the Dodger and Byron Buxton (who also brought back Lance Lynn). Brutal. I still won the league in 2021, but that was due to Quantrill, Ranger Suarez, Walker Buehler, Lance McCullers, and some clutch relief help from Kendall Graveman, Paul Sewald, Dylan Floro, Joe Barlow and Jake McGee. I only lay all this out to explain why I’m more in the pan-for-pitching camp than the pay-for-pitching one, so let’s grab our gear and start sifting through the waters. 

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While drafting this NFBC 2022 fantasy baseball team, I’m simultaneously deep into writing my 2022 fantasy baseball rankings, which will be released starting around mid-January. (Our Patreon already has the bulk of them; as I finish each ranking, I put it up on there.) Was a fun experiment to see if not having completed rankings would change my drafting. If I haven’t yet decided on whether or not I want a player, would that let me be more open to drafting someone? I’m not sure. My guess was it might’ve. For unstints, if I didn’t want, say, Cody Bellinger again, would I be a big enough dolt to draft him again since I haven’t finished my rankings? Would I be a large enough idiot to actually draft Cody Bellinger again in 2022 if I hadn’t yet finished my research? Would I have an obvious screw loose, potentially appearing like a person who doesn’t have an actual brain, and draft Cody Bellinger again? Would I be a large-scale imbecile that would draft Cody Bellinger again if I simply hadn’t finished researching? Surely, I would not, right? Because I rostered him in multiple leagues last year, so I don’t need something as silly as my own rankings to know Cody Bellinger sucks giant Great Dane balls, right? RIGHT?! Actually, wrong. I’m just that dumb. Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap; it’s a 15-team, two-catcher, draft and hold league that goes 50 rounds and has no waivers:

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Youth is power among the low-payroll clubs, and no team exemplifies that more than Cleveland, who has been mostly successful in terms of wins and losses despite constantly feeling the creep of (air quotes) market forces. After an eventful 40-man roster deadline day that saw the club turn over 20+ percent of its personnel, Cleveland is on the verge of something new in more ways than one (cue the Starlord memes). This system is loaded, is what I’m saying, and though they’ve faced a recent downturn in on-field talent, that should be short-lived, especially on the pitching side.    

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I’m often referencing the echo chamber in this space, and sometimes I’ll throw in a specific citation even though I’m not here to drag other prospect people in specific as much as I’m here to help readers find value in general. A big part of finding value is knowing who’s free and who’s a helium-filled fever dream. When a deep lens into the echo chamber crossed my Twitter feed this week courtesy of High Upside Fantasy, it seemed like something I should share here. 

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