Dylan Dodd gave up a single to Tommy Edman to lead off his MLB debut on Tuesday, then recorded 10 straight outs on his way to five innings of one-run ball in the Braves’ 4-1 victory over the Cardinals.
The 24-year-old lefty had three strikeouts with no walks in earning his first career win.
Dodd appeared headed to Triple-A to start the season despite impressing in spring training with a 2.00 ERA and 20-4 K-BB in 18 innings, but made the Opening Day roster when Kyle Wright was placed on the IL. Now that Max Fried has joined Wright on the IL and fellow left-handed rookie Jared Shuster has been sent down, Dodd’s spot in the Atlanta rotation is more secure for the near term.
Drafted in the third round in 2021 out of Southeast Missouri State, he had a decent pro debut with Low-A Augusta (4.91 ERA, 14-3 K-BB in 11 IP) before a one-game debacle for High-A Rome (3 IP, 8 ER, 4 HR). Dodd made a quick ascent last year, beginning with a 3.44 ERA for High-A Rome, then a 3.11 ERA for Double-A Mississippi and finishing with a 4.05 ERA in one start for Triple-A Gwinnett. He came into spring training as a long shot to make the Braves, likely headed back to Gwinnett before everything going his way to break camp with Atlanta.
So what can we expect from the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder in his rookie season? Looking at his Steamer projection, Dodd is expected to post a serviceable 4.21 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and 71-24 K-BB in 87 innings. We’re betting that if Dodd gets to 120 innings, it will be because he’s pitched well enough to stay in the rotation even as Wright and Fried return off the IL, so something like a 3.75 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP is within reason.
The worry is that he may not be able to hold off a pack of competitors for the back of Atlanta’s rotation, eventually losing his spot to the likes of Shuster, Bryce Elder, Mike Soroka or even Ian Anderson. Dodd could wind up as rotation depth in Triple-A or as a long reliever in Atlanta.
As for the long-term future, Dodd could become a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors, even if it winds up being for another team after a trade. Dodd is more of a pitchability guy, averaging 92.4 mph on his fastball in his debut, with control as his only plus tool. He does receive 50 grades for his fastball, slider and changeup from Baseball America, so his ceiling may look something like Jordan Montgomery.