NL West - Boom Candidates: January 2022

Updated: Jan 7

Over a month into the lockout, we are left with nothing better to do other than to break down boom and bust players for the 2022 season. This week, I'm switching over to the National League to tackle three players in the NL West that I see having breakout years. With so much young talent in the NL West that has already shown signs of success, we have to dig further into the division to find talent that will take the next step forward.

One player in the NL West I see having a monster year is Zac Gallen of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2019, we started to see early signs of success from Zac in Miami and in Arizona following a trade that sent him to Arizona and Jazz Chisholm to Miami. In 2020 Gallen put up almost identical numbers to the those he posted in 2019, but we still had yet to see him surpass 100 innings pitched. With a full year to show people what he could do, we saw him regress, with opponents boasting the highest slugging % off Zac we had seen in his young career. When you look at what pitches he relied on, we notice he relied on his fastball more in 2021. He used it on 53.7% of his pitches, which was 14.7% higher than he used it in 2020. This could explain why his fly ball rate climbed from 16% in 2020 to 25.8% this year. For a finesse pitcher who relied on his cutter/curveball in previous years, he threw each around 10% less this year. Look to see him bounce back this year and return to the groundball pitcher he is by more effectively mixing in all of his pitches. I easily see Gallen being a top 20 pitcher in 2022 putting up a 3.15 ERA with a 1.2 WHIP and a 11.5 SO/9.

I will not leave the Diamondbacks to find my 2nd player, one who could potentially be seen catching Gallen in 2022, but also seeing time in the outfield. Daulton Varsho is my second boom player who I see having a big year. We have talked at length at the Dynasty Locker Room about the lack of quality catcher options in our rankings, and I have touched on this in a previous article with regard to Gary Sanchez, but this is a chance to steal one who finally looks to be rounding the corner. In 2020, we saw Daulton struggle at the plate with a SO% of 28.7. It was very evident he struggled with off-speed and breaking balls. He had a .111 BA against 116 breaking balls and a .190 BA against 69 off-speed pitches. This, however, was a small sample size in 2020.I n 2021, Varsho adapted and raised his BA against breaking balls to .217 and .227 against off-speed offerings. This is cemented by the fact that 7 of his 11 home runs came off pitches other than fastballs. Look to see that confidence boost carry into 2022, and in a position that has very little fantasy talent, we should see Varsho lead the position in steals and put up 20+ HR’s in 2022 making him a top 5 catcher.

As an Angels fan, it kills me to rave about anyone on the other side of the freeway, but my last breakout player is Tony Gonsolin. With Max Scherzer leaving for the Mets, Dustin May being out till after the All-Star break, and the uncertainty surrounding a return of Clayton Kershaw or Trevor Bauer, Tony Gonsolin is the top candidate to slot in their rotation behind Julio Urias. Through his first 3 years in the MLB, he has posted a 2.85 ERA with 142 innings pitched. His WHIP sits right around 1.1 and he holds roughly a 10 K/9. Gonsolin struggled with walks in 2021, and a lot of hitters' success came off his fastball, which decreased almost 1.5MPH. When looking at what has gone right for him, however, we notice that he has improved his split finger and curveball to go along with his slider. All three proved to be excellent put away pitches for Gonsolin in 2021 compared to previous years, where he relied heavily on his slider alone. Even with a 5.5 BB/9, he still managed to post a 3.2 ERA. With the expectation to pitch 120+ innings in 2022, look to see him his fastball return to the productive pitch that it has been, and have a dominant year for the Dodgers. With the run support that will be provided to him, look to see Gonsolin go 12-6 with a 3.1 ERA over 150 innings. He should be a very affordable arm to add, and one that I would recommend taking a risk on for the 2022 season.

Next week I will be diving into the NL West bust players, where I will be breaking down why you should avoid them going into 2022.

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