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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 10 - Injured Players Edition

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Welcome back to The Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who fantasy managers might be considering cutting from their teams and struggling players who need a closer look. We'll look at players who are worthy of a drop, players who are worth monitoring for replacing, and someone on the hot seat who is worth holding on to... for now.

This week is different from the norm as we're going to be looking at players currently on the injured list and whether or not they are worth keeping on your rosters. We've still got your Reddit Requests as normal, but as injury lists begin to lengthen, it seems like a good time to look at some names that have cropped up in questions as to whether or not they are worth keeping on your teams.

I'm a strong advocate for not making knee-jerk reactions. A bad week or two shouldn't be a reason to push the panic button and dump someone. As the season progresses, there will be stronger cases to drop underperforming players. If there's ever someone you want me to take a look at, drop their name on Reddit or reach out to me on Twitter (@Baseball_Jimbo), and maybe you'll see them included next week. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

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Worth Dropping and Replacing?

Freddy Peralta – SP, Milwaukee Brewers – 88% rostered

Peralta was struggling (albeit unluckily) this year before a shoulder injury sent him to the IL in late May. He had made eight starts before the injury with a 3-2 W-L record, 4.42 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 50 Ks (38.2 IP). The reason I consider Peralta unlucky is due to his 2.95 xERA, 2.91 xFIP, and 3.02 SIERA.

But the injury looks set to sideline for the majority of the season. The Brewers have been a little vague with any timeline as we've been told Peralta is set to miss "significant" time but should still pitch again this season. This makes a mid-late August return sound plausible.

That means around 10 weeks from now will be missed and then any setback will probably see Peralta miss the remainder of the regular season. Given the Brewers should be contending for the playoffs, I don't think Peralta will be shut down unless there's a genuine medical reason to do so.

But we need to factor in they may not be able to build up Peralta in time to be a starter for the postseason and could use him in the bullpen, especially given their depth in their rotation. One thing for sure, I'd really like to see Peralta in the playoffs, whether it's starting or as a reliever.

Verdict - As much as I like Peralta and thought he was a solid trade candidate, the fact he's going to miss two-three months with a shoulder injury pretty much has me out on him. If you have the free IL spot and are lucky enough to not need it for other short-term injuries, I'd be fine keeping Peralta. Otherwise, I'm dropping him rather than stashing in the hope of ~25 innings.

Jean Segura – 2B, Philadelphia Phillies – 56% rostered

Segura was on track for a possible 20/20 season with six homers, 19 RBI, 22 runs, and eight steals (44 games) while hitting .275/.324/.407. Unfortunately, he suffered a fractured right index finger after being hit by a pitch while attempting a bunt on May 31st.

The news broke shortly after that he'd need surgery to repair it and would miss 10-12 weeks. That makes mid-August the earliest we can expect to see Segura back on the field and as with Peralta, any setback could see Segura's season end before taking another swing.

Finger injuries can be difficult to heal fully from, especially if there's some ligament problem. At present, that doesn't seem to be the case but it might not take much for that 10-12 week estimate to extend and even the 12 weeks will leave only a month of the season left for Segura to help fantasy managers.

Verdict - The length of the injury recovery time leaves Segura as a drop option if you need the IL spot for someone else with a shorter return time. You'll need some serious luck if you're able to stash Segura for the entire IL-stint without leaving your team short in any department.

Hyun Jin Ryu – SP, Toronto Blue Jays – 40% rostered

Last week, Ryu hit the IL for the second time this season, and once again, it was for left forearm inflammation. A few days later, reports emerged that Ryu is expected to miss significant time. How long exactly? We don't know, but none of this sounds promising.

Forearm issues have been known to be a precursor to confirmed UCL injuries and Tommy John Surgery, which would rule out Ryu for the remainder of 2022 and most of 2023. We're not there yet but the lack of clarity regarding this issue and the fact it's the second time Ryu has hit the IL with it makes me wonder if there's is more to the inflammation than is being reported.

Ryu was struggling on the mound when healthy, with a 2-0 W-L record, 5.33 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 16 Ks in 27.0 IP (six starts). You only need to look at his Statcast profile to see how off Ryu has been this year.

If he's been suffering arm issues all season, that shouldn't come as a surprise and we're now looking at the likelihood of 2022 being a lost season for the veteran lefty.

Verdict - The soundbites we're hearing regarding Ryu are not promising and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we soon hear he'll be missing the entire season. The "significant time" comments probably mean another August return is the best-case scenario and his numbers since last year makes Ryu someone I'd consider a safe drop from your rosters.


Hold For Now

Sonny Gray – SP, Minnesota Twins – 86% rostered

Gray is on the IL for the second time this season. After missing three weeks with a hamstring strain, he was placed on the IL at the start of the month, this time with a pectoral strain. It was a blow for Gray and the Twins as the preseason acquisition had gotten off to a great start with his new team.

In seven starts, Gray had a 3-1 W-L record, 2.41 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 39 Ks (33.2 IP). His underlying numbers backed up his success with a 2.89 xERA, 3.08 xFIP, and 3.12 SIERA, while Gray's 29.3% K% ranks in the 83rd percentile.

After hearing no news for 10 days, the Twins announced that they expect Gray to rejoin the rotation sometime next week. Gray seemingly came through a simulated game (throwing 25-30 pitches) on Friday, according to Twins report Do-Hyoung Park.

Unless Gray has a rehab start or extended work to start the week, he could be on a shortened pitch count in his first start, given his last start came on May 29th. But as long as there are no lingering effects of the injury, Gray is certainly someone I'm holding on to.

Mitch Haniger – OF, Seattle Mariners – 76% rostered

Haniger managed to play only nine games before a high-ankle sprain sent him to the IL. We heard last weekend that Haniger had begun some light baseball activities before news of him hitting in the batting cage this week, so hopefully, he can start to ramp up the work and we see a return later this month.

Haniger was off to a decent start, albeit in only nine games, hitting .200/.222/.486 with three homers, seven RBI, three runs, and no stolen bases. That's on the back of his 39-homer season in 2021, so Haniger was looking like a solid power option in fantasy.

The Mariners do have a possible lineup crunch when Haniger returns. Julio Rodriguez and Jesse Winker have the center and left field spots secured (despite Winker's struggles) so that leaves Kyle Lewis and Haniger to fill the right field and designated hitter spots, which doesn't offer up much flexibility.

Given how cautious the Mariners have been with Lewis in his return from knee surgery (prior to the concussion), it stands to reason that Haniger will be the everyday right fielder, at least to begin with. But he's also a possible trade candidate, being in the last year of his contract.

With the possibility of a return in the next 2-3 weeks, the power potential and possibility of being traded to a contending team all make Haniger someone I'd be wanting to stash on my IL.

Jesus Luzardo – SP/RP, Miami Marlins – 49% rostered

Luzardo looked like the pitcher everyone has been hoping he'd be, following his first six starts to the season; a 2-3 W-L record, 4.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 41 Ks (29.0 IP). If it wasn't for his last start (four earned runs in 2.2 IP), Luzardo would be sitting on a 3.08 ERA.

But it was that last start in which Luzardo suffered arm discomfort and ultimately went on the IL with a left forearm strain. For someone who has spent so much of his career injured, this was a blow. But it didn't seem too serious and Luzardo himself didn't seem too bothered by it (May 15th).

Given that Luzardo has been unfortunate enough to experience TJS and didn't seem too fussed by this latest setback, things looked a lot more positive than they perhaps may have been. Then a little over two weeks later (on June 2nd), Luzardo provided a brief update which suggests he's been taking things slowly but there have been no setbacks.

Then, earlier this week, we heard that Luzardo is yet to start a throwing program which suggests this is something more than a minor strain. And if Luzardo is yet to start a throwing program. we're still looking at weeks until we can expect to see him back in the Majors.

Because we don't have any definitive news, I'm still willing to hold on to Luzardo in fantasy, as if he does begin to throw in the coming days, an early July return is plausible. However, if we do find out that there's more to it than what we've been told so far, Luzardo becomes a drop candidate.


On the Hot Seat

Brandon Lowe – 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays – 88% rostered
Following his 2021 season in which he hit 39 home runs, Lowe was primed for a big 2022 but got off to a sluggish start. After 32 games, Lowe was hitting .212/.293/.415 with five homers, 12 RBI, 20 runs, and one stolen base. Then, in mid-May, Lowe hit the IL.

It was initially listed as lower back discomfort but later emerged that Lowe had a stress reaction in his back, would be out for at least a month, and wouldn't be able to commence baseball activities for three weeks.

That was four weeks ago and we're yet to hear any news of Lowe starting baseball activities. Given he'll need to commence baseball activities for a few days at least, then move on to a rehab assignment, we're likely looking at two more weeks minimum until we see Lowe back with the Rays.

And back issues can be tricky to overcome. It's not clear if Lowe was experiencing this problem from the start of the season or if something triggered the problem but it would be nice to get a bit more clarity on the situation so we know what to expect.

Of course, it's not the job of the Rays or Lowe to provide information to help fantasy managers so a lot of what we do is speculate until we get confirmation of his timeline to return. And considering what Lowe did last year and the fact he should still be back by the end of the month, I'm not dropping Lowe. Yet.

But if there's a setback or delays with his return, Lowe is someone I would be moving down my priority order of stashing on the IL.


The Reddit Requests

Here are some names from the readers following last weekend's post on Reddit. None of them are injured so we're keeping this section as the norm. If there is anyone who you want to include here on next week's Cut List, drop their names on the Reddit thread and there's a good chance they will feature.

Aaron Nola – SP, Philadelphia Phillies 98% rostered

This may seem like a strange request given what Nola did on Wednesday, but he had struggled a bit as of last week and while I was preaching to hold Nola last week, his latest outing should have removed any doubts.

Prior to this week, Nola had a 3-4 W-L record, 3.92 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 79 Ks in 66.2 IP (11 starts). Then came Tuesday's eight shutout inning performance which leaves Nola's fantasy line as 4-4 W-L, 3.50 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 85 Ks.

The main reason I was preaching patience with Nola was his underlying numbers. As of now, Nola has a 2.81 xERA, 2.89 xFIP, and 2.72 SIERA. His 29.3% K% is in the 84th percentile while his 3.4% BB% (a career-low) is in the 96th percentile. Of the 63 qualified pitchers, Nola's 25.9% K-BB% ranks third.

Wednesday's performance was always on the cards looking at his expected stats and his metrics. While he does still allow more well-hit balls than some of the aces (7.4% Barrel% is in the 48th percentile), he should still be a top-20 SP in fantasy this year.

Ian Anderson – SP, Atlanta Braves – 77% rostered

Anderson's struggles hurt me personally as he was someone I tipped to take a big step forward this year. If he could reign in the walks a little. Instead, after having a career of 10.0% BB% prior to this season, Anderson has a 10.2% BB% in 2022.

What is most alarming is that it has come with a lack of strikeouts. Anderson's 19.6% K% is significantly down on last year's 23.2% K% and ranks in the 33rd percentile. His BB% is in the 29th percentile. All of that has led to a 5-3 W-L record, 4.53 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 50 Ks in 11 starts (59.2 IP).

There are some reasons for hope with Anderson. Wednesday saw Anderson throw his third quality start of the season while he has a 7.4% BB% and 21.4% K% over his last six starts. Nothing to get too excited about but a bit more positive at least.

I'm not convinced that Anderson magically turns things around and finishes the season with a sub-3.60 ERA like last year and he's still a borderline drop in shallow leagues. But he should still have enough good starts to warrant rostering in deeper leagues, even if you bench him for the tougher matchups.

Ranger Suarez – SP/RP, Philadelphia Phillies – 53% rostered

Suarez came into 2022 with a lot of hype and finished the draft season with an ADP of ~179. That's despite only having 106.0 IP last year as he converted from a reliever in August (making 11 starts). And his success in the bullpen carried over to his starting role.

In 40.1 IP as a reliever, Suarez had a 1.12 ERA and a 1.51 ERA as a starter (65.2 IP). Unfortunately, Suarez hasn't been able to carry that success into this season. After 11 starts, Suarez has a 4-3 W-L record, 4.42 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 47 Ks (55.0 IP).

With a 1.47 WHIP and a 9.1% BB%, to have a sub-4.50 ERA you need to limit hard contact. And as we can see from Suarez's Statcast profile, that's the only thing he's done well so far. His K% has dropped from 25.6% last year to 19.4% this year and his underlying numbers aren't particularly better than his ERA.

Suarez has a 4.00 xERA, 3.99 xFIP, and 4.20 SIERA and one of his best starts of the season came on Tuesday, with 7.0 IP, two earned runs on six hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. That was his first outing of the season without a walk.

Last year's 106 innings is the most Suarez has thrown in a season in the Majors, but he did have 139.1 IP across three levels in 2018 so workload concerns might not materialize if he can stay healthy.

Suarez is similar to Anderson, in that I understand dropping him in shallower leagues and only starting him in the better matchups anyway. His latest start does offer hope he can resemble something similar to last year's version of Suarez but there may be better options on the waivers in shallower leagues.

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