Dunning was an intriguing projection arm in high school who flashed average stuff and had a good blend of size and athleticism. He took a big step forward during his freshman year at Florida, though the rest of the talent on that pitching staff pushed him to a bullpen/midweek/spot starting role for much of his career. The industry still valued him in the first round by the time he was a junior, and Washington selected him 29th overall in 2016, before trading him that winter for eventual title contributor Adam Eaton.
Dunning had a very strong 2017, when his prospect value hit its pinnacle; he was viewed as a near-ready No. 4 starter and a core part of Chicago’s rebuild. Then he missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain and tore his UCL during 2019 spring training, which required surgery. The pandemic complicated his rehab and Dunning threw side sessions during the shutdown. He quickly became a reliable rotation piece and made a handful of starts for the playoff-bound White Sox before they included him as part of the return package for Lance Lynn.
Dunning’s velocity is down a tick in 2021 with the Rangers but he’s able to command his low-90s sinker at the bottom of the zone.He most often supports that with a low-80s, two-planed slider, a pitch aided by some of the funk in Dunning’s delivery. He’s a kitchen sink righty with command of a sinker, slider, changeup, cutter, and a rare curveball. His command needs to be plus for Dunning to be effective since his raw stuff is shy of big league average, but it has been for a long time now. He’s a slam dunk No. 4/5 starter.