Last year the Braves perhaps surprised some evaluators by going under-slot with its third-round pick, selecting a senior college arm out of a small school in 22-year-old lefty Dylan Dodd. Not much was known about the Southeast Missouri State product, and with a career 4.02 ERA in three collegiate seasons, Dodd wasn’t necessarily a highly sought-after prospect. Hell, I may’ve been a bit too high myself when I ranked him 18th in my 2022 Braves Top 35 this past offseason. But at 6-2, 210 pounds, and hitting 96 MPH from the left side, there’s an inherently-high floor when it comes to Dodd, even if his first full-season as a pro has mostly been a disappointment thus far.
After making three starts with Single-A Augusta in 2021, Dodd has started his 2022 campaign with High-A Rome, and through six outings so far, the numbers are far from ideal. Dodd has yet to turn in a quality-start for the R-Braves, with his best performance coming a few weeks ago, when he tossed a two-hitter on his way to one earned run and four strikeouts in five innings. Although… that strong showing has seemed like an outlier and has been followed up with back to back poor starts, including his most-recent one – featuring seven runs from nine hits against Greenville, giving him a whopping 10 runs allowed in his last 10 2/3 innings (good for an 8.44 ERA in that span).
It doesn’t take long, though, to see that Dodd hasn’t really been that bad. Sure, opposing batters are hitting a healthy .279 overall against the lefty pitcher, but Dodd’s expected stats aren’t nearly as rough as his actual ones, as FanGraphs gives him a 4.26 xFIP, which is nearly two runs below his actual 6.44 ERA this season. And you can see it all in the situational splits, where the opposition appears to be pouring it on versus Dodd.
When a pitcher is performing well, there’s usually at least one thing he can hang his hat on… and that’s consistently preventing damage when there are runners on the base paths. For Dodd, though, that just hasn’t been the case in 2022, as he’s currently allowing a .939 OPS with runners on, compared to a more manageable .725 when the bases are empty. Handiness-wise nothing sticks out – both righty and lefty batters seem to be getting to him with equal regularity. But there’s an obvious influx of production for opposing batters when there’s traffic on the bases against Dodd, and that is what’s currently making his start to the season appear much worse (to also go with a .345 BABIP against and an absolutely unsustainable 59.9% left-on-base rate). I’m not saying Dodd should be dominating the High-A level; that’s evidently not the case, given he’s allowed an overall .817 OPS so far. But I do believe, that with a little more luck at getting much-needed outs, his overall numbers would look much better, hence the respectable xFIP mentioned above.
Dodd will get his chance to right the ship tonight, as he’s Rome’s probable starter against Winston-Salem on Saturday. The Dash is no pushover either, given as a team it ranks within the top-five in essentially all offensive stats, including OPS, runs and home runs. Dodd will certainly have his work cut out for him. But regardless, hopefully he can settle in tonight, and more importantly, limit the damage when/if Winston-Salem puts baserunners on. If he can begin doing that, maybe he can also begin turning his season around.