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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 14

Welcome back to the Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who fantasy managers could consider 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. There's also the usual Reddit Requests section featuring five names you asked about last week.

As always, if there's anyone you specifically want to know whether to drop or hold who isn't included in the article, mention them on the Reddit thread or give me a shout on Twitter (@Baseball_Jimbo) and they might be featured the following week. This isn't a "hard and fast" list of definite players to drop, but hopefully, it will act as a tool to help you with your roster decisions.

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 for a random player who is on the only hot streak he'll ever have in his career. We're closing in on the midway point of the season so we have decent sample sizes on most players to base our decisions on. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Worth Dropping and Replacing

Patrick Wisdom - 1B/3B, Chicago Cubs - 33% rostered

Every season we see players called up to the majors who are in their mid to late twenties and without much attention being paid to them. This year, Wisdom is one such player. And like so many before him, they usually regress back to the norm and eventually drift back onto fantasy waiver wires after being the hottest pick-up for a week or two. Following Wisdom's May call-up, he hit .412/.444/1.088 with seven homers through thirteen games which explained why he was such a popular add in fantasy leagues. In his last 15 games, Wisdom's line is .154/.233/.308 with three homers.

Prior to this season, Wisdom had 83 MLB plate appearances with a .218/.299/.397 and four homers but had only played in 11 games since 2018. His power shouldn't have come as a big surprise if we look at Wisdom's minor league numbers. In 866 MiLB games, Wisdom hit 134 homers, 80 of which have come since 2017 in 346 games. Despite that power, Wisdom still only has a .244 average in his minor league career. He also had a MiLB 26.6% K% and those strikeouts have been a problem this season as Wisdom currently has a horrific 40.2% K% on the year following an 0-for-4 night Saturday with four strikeouts.

Verdict - If you managed to ride Wisdom's hot streak, well done. But don't expect a repeat in the coming weeks. The power he showed in the minors and since his call-up does warrant consideration in the deeper leagues, but playing-time is an issue and he might not stick in the majors for much longer. Given he was almost 0% rostered a month ago, unless you dropped a huge amount of FAB on him, you won't be losing out by dropping him now.

 

Mike Moustakas - 1B/2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds - 60% rostered

Moustakas (heel) was moved to the 60-day IL last Saturday, meaning the earliest he can return is mid-August. Prior to his injury, Moustakas played 28 games with four homers, 13 RBI, 15 runs scored and a .241/.337/.437 slash line. None of which were far short of his career numbers. Extrapolated over 162 games, he was looking at 23 homers, 75 RBI and 86 runs. One power surge during the Summer months and Moustakas would likely have ended the season with numbers similar to his 2017-2019 seasons.

Alas, the foot injury has put paid to that and even if he does come back as soon as eligible, that only leaves around six weeks of the regular season in which Moustakas can help your fantasy teams. If you don't play the final week, that further limits the impact he can make. We've seen how plantar fasciitis and similar foot injuries can really hinder players even when they do take the field so there's no guarantee Moustakas does return in mid-August nor that he'll be 100% if he does. At this stage, there are more questions as there are answers regarding his health.

Verdict - The multi-position eligibility is nice in deeper leagues and if you have an available IL spot for him, use it. In shallower leagues or if you don't have the luxury of a free IL spot, he can be dropped now.

 

Blake Snell - SP, San Diego Padres - 92% rostered

To put it politely, Snell has been a disaster in fantasy this year. With an ADP of ~45, Snell was drafted as an SP2 in most leagues (and an SP1 in deep leagues) but simply hasn't been close to returning that value. The ESPN Player Rater has Snell ranked as the 150th best eligible starting pitcher while Yahoo! has him ranked as the 850th best player in fantasy baseball so far this year. Given he has a 3-3 record from 15 starts, with a 5.29 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, those ratings shouldn't come as a surprise.

A look at his underlying numbers will show a 29.8% K%, which is actually down on his last three years strikeout rate (32.1%) but is still in the 80th percentile of all MLB pitchers. The big problem has been the walks, as Snell's 13.2% BB% is in the 12th percentile. He's yet to have an outing without a walk and has had only two starts allowing one walk. His first start in June offered fantasy managers hope, with a seven-inning shutout performance against the Mets in which Snell struck out ten and allowed just one hit and one walk. By far, his best start of the season and only the second time he'd completed at least six innings.

The problem is, that start came on the back of two outings in which Snell allowed a total of 12 earned runs in 6.2 IP and was then followed by two starts totaling 7.1 IP with ten earned runs being allowed. Just as everyone was ready to cut ties with Snell again, his last start was another shutout, this time five innings against the Dodgers with five strikeouts, four hits and three walks.

Snell's expected ERA (xERA) is 5.36 which doesn't offer much hope of a turnaround in fortunes but his 3.67 xFIP, 4.12 SIERA and .329 BABIP do all provide a reason to believe in improvement moving forward. The problem is, as long as the walk rate remains where it is, Snell has no hope of coming close to returning value on his ADP and even if he ERA does fall to somewhere similar to his SIERA and xFIP, that still isn't close to what he was drafted for.

Verdict - There's still enough upside and some underlying numbers which suggest Snell is rosterable in deeper leagues. The problem is trying to pick and choose which start to use Snell for as his game scores show three of his best starts have come against the Dodgers yet his worst starts include those facing the Pirates and Brewers. That also makes it difficult to trust him as a streaming option. For now, I'd put him on your bench and start him when you're in need of strikeouts or can take the risk of a blowout. There's still hope he can turn things around more consistently, but that hope is fading.

 

Hold For Now

Avisail Garcia - OF, Milwaukee Brewers - 42% rostered

Garcia came into the season as a "sleeper pick" with a concern that playing time might limit his value. With an outfield consisting of Christian Yelich, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Lorenzo Cain, Garcia appeared to be the odd-man-out. However, injuries have played a part and Garcia has now played in 70 games so far and leads the team in plate appearances (274). Despite having a .236 batting average (which would equal his lowest in any season), Garcia hit his 14th homer on Saturday and only needs seven more to break his own season-high he set in 2019 while with the Rays. Over 162 games, his 43 RBI so far would equate to 99 which would be by far a career-high too.

Garcia has slipped beneath 50% rostership as he's struggled in June. Following yesterday's 3-for-5 performance, he's hitting .218/.295/.397 with four homers this month. He could also reach double-digit steals for the second time in his career although the last of his four steals came on May 23rd. Garcia is hitting cleanup for the Brewers and his expected stats are far better than his actual numbers. His xBA is .265, his xSLG is .482 and xwOBA is .349 (actual wOBA is .311). Cain remains on the IL but could return soon which will crowd the outfield and might eat into Garcia's playing time a bit. Bradley Jr. has been dreadful offensively so I suspect Garcia still plays all but maybe once a week and given he's been the Brewers cleanup hitter, it seems unlikely that he'll disappear from the lineup when Cain returns. If his batting average luck turns around and his power remains, Garcia could have a big second half.

Rich Hill - SP, Tampa Bay Rays - 68% rostered

Following his start on June 5 against the Rangers, Hill dropped his ERA to 3.05 with a 5-2 record. His next two starts caused some alarm bells to go off for fantasy managers, allowing four earned runs in each while totaling 9.2 IP against the Orioles and Mariners. He bounced back last time out by allowing just one earned run over five innings against the Red Sox. Hill will go into his next start with a 6-2 record, 3.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He's also struck out 78 batters in 76.2 IP. While it was good to see Hill have a good outing after back-to-back bad starts, there's still a tale of caution to be told.

His 4.07 xERA, 4.21 xFIP and 4.12 SIERA all suggest regression is imminent. We shouldn't see a huge dropoff but probably won't see an ERA around 3.50 for much longer. I don't consider Hill a cut candidate but if you have been enjoying his success on your fantasy teams, I would seriously consider trading him. His trade value took a slight hit following those two rough starts but you should still be able to get a good return after his last outing. Given he's 41 years old, has already pitched 76.2 innings and the most he's thrown in any year since 2007 is 135.2 (in 2017), it's hard to trust Hill will make another ~15 starts. Alternatively, you can keep riding his renaissance but just expect the ERA to creep up and for Hill to miss some time.

Yasmani Grandal - C, Chicago White Sox - 85% rostered

Grandal is someone I see all the time, being asked about whether he's droppable in non-OBP leagues. Given he has a .175 batting average, that's understandable. In OBP leagues, his .175/.385/.419 line makes him a top-3 catcher. The reason I keep preaching about Grandal still being worthy of rostering in standard leagues (i.e. those which count batting average) is his counting stats. Among catchers, Grandal is tied for fifth in homers (12), second in runs scored (35) and tied for sixth in RBI (30). That's despite being tied for just 14th in games played by a catcher (56).

Counting stats are often overlooked and the batting average isn't as bad as it would be for an everyday player. Consider this; in a normal week, all non-catchers on your team go 80-for-300. That's a batting average of .267. If your catcher goes 3-for-18 (.167), that brings the team batting average down to .261. If your catcher goes 5-for-18, that's a .278 average yet the team's average is still only .267. If it was a positional player who goes 4-for-24 (.167) and everyone else combined for 80-for-300, that would drag the team's average down to .259. So we can see how a catcher's low batting average doesn't have the negative impact on your team's average that an everyday player would and even if he hit .220, the difference between that and what he's doing now is almost negligible on your overall team's batting average. Grandal is still worth rostering in any league.

 

On the Hot Seat

Nick Solak - 2B/3B/OF, Texas Rangers - 54% rostered

Solak being rostered in little over 50% of leagues is understandable given the June he's been having. This month, he's hitting just .203/.263/.216 with one steal and his only extra-base hit was a double on June 08th. That's dropped his season line to .233/.305/.367 with eight homers, 39 runs, 31 RBI and three stolen bases. If we look at his numbers for each month so far, we'll see just how far he's falling since his hot start to the season.

Month Games HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
April 27 7 18 14 2 .293 .375 .535
May 28 1 17 10 0 .200 .268 .318
June 21 0 4 7 1 .203 .263 .216

What immediately jumps off the page is the decline has been since the start of May and not the start of June like many think. Although his numbers over the last eight weeks have been worse than most feared they could be, they aren't entirely surprising. Prior to this year, Solak had a .277/.351/.397 line from his 91 MLB games with seven homers and nine steals. Given he ranked in the 91st percentile for sprint speed in 2019 and 2020, just nine steals are a little disappointing.

But what of that batting average? Well, it was partly BABIP fueled but that's to be somewhat expected from a player who is so fast on the bases as they're able to leg out infield singles much more frequently. Even still, he had a .331 BABIP over those two seasons and his xBA also suggests some luck was involved. In 2019, Solak had an xBA of .249 while he hit .293. In 2020, his .264 xBA was more in line with his actual average of .268. Despite not being the biggest sample size, it was more realistic to expect an average of ~.250-.260 with 2019 looking like more of a fluke than the expectation.

How about his minor league numbers? Well, 2019 was when Solak really came to prominence. He was traded midseason by the Rays for Pete Fairbanks and between the Rangers and Rays Triple-A clubs, he tallied 27 homers in 115 games with a .289/.362/.532 line. Across four MiLB seasons, Solak hit .294/.383/.468 so when he hit .293 in 33 MLB games in 2019, many expected that to be what Solak will do consistently moving forward.

Is there anything in his underlying numbers that suggests he can turn things around moving forward? Looking at his Statcast profile.... no there isn't.

The most pressing numbers here are Solak's expected stats. The .242 xBA could be slightly bettered due to his speed as we mentioned, but the xSLG of .399 and xwOBA of .313 are both better than his actual numbers, yet still rank around the bottom third of the league. That's concerning. He does have solid counting stats for a second baseman as his 31 RBI ranks tied-12th at the position and 39 runs scored is tied-14th.

Earlier this week, Rangers Head Coach Chris Woodward hinted that Andy Ibanez would be seeing more time at second base with Solak moving between first and third. Given they still have Nate Lowe, Charlie Culberson and Brock Holt covering those two positions, that could cause a playing-time issue. That's not materialized yet as Solak has continued to start and Ibanez even sat out on Saturday evening. Willie Calhoun suffered a fractured arm on Saturday, freeing up a roster spot so Solak should still be a regular feature in the Rangers lineup, regardless of where he plays. Given the fact the Rangers are going nowhere fast and should be developing the younger players like Solak, he should continue to start almost every game.

There's also a recency bias to consider with his numbers. If we swap his April and June numbers around, we'd be talking about Solak as a buy-low candidate who has started warming up after a slow start. At the end of the season, we don't look back at a players' month-by-month stats, just the bottom line so if he has another month similar to April before the end of the season, it'd cover up his disappointing months like May and June.

Where does that leave us? Well in dynasty, Solak should still be kept. In redraft, that's a different matter. His 2019 and 2020 numbers are from small samples but despite that, his 2019 numbers look like they were aided by some good fortune. Solak could still finish the season with 15 homers and 10 steals (if he's green-lighted just a little more) which would be close to his preseason projections and still decent for a second baseman when we include those counting stats. But it does look like some people's expectations were too great, especially after the April he had.

Despite all of that, I don't think Solak is a definite drop. The second base position lacks depth in fantasy and having now played 167 MLB games, we have an idea of what he can produce over a full season. He's hit 15 homers and has 12 steals during his time in the Majors which is around what we just said is possible this year and close to some of his preseason projections. I expect his batting average to climb back up to ~.250-.260 given his expected numbers too and while that's not great and a drop off from his 2019 small sample, it's still serviceable in fantasy.

In shallower leagues, if you already have a productive second baseman, you could probably find a better option than Solak on waivers to fill in elsewhere on your roster. In deeper leagues, the fact he's an everyday player and has multi-positional flexibility should keep him on your radar and still rostered for the most part. We should temper our expectations for this year and his speed upside is unlikely to suddenly manifest itself into steals but there's still enough meat on the bones to persevere with Solak, even if it's just for a little longer.

 

The Reddit Requests

As always, here some of the most commonly mentioned players from last week's Reddit thread.

Dylan Carlson - OF, St Louis Cardinals - 70% rostered

This could be said of pretty much all Cardinals; June has seen Carlson's numbers drop with a .256/.340/.384 slash line for the month which has brought his season's line down to .265/.352/.407. It's been more of a slight down month than a drop-off many have seen in June. He did hit his second homer of the month (and seventh of the season) on Friday night and now has 38 runs and 29 RBI on the season. The hope was for a bit more power and some steals (he's yet to attempt one) but the 38 runs scored is tied for 24th among all outfielders and the 29 RBI ties him for 36th. Given last year was his first taste of MLB and he only played 35 games, we should expect some bumps in the road. But Carlson has been a solid contributor throughout the first three months of the season and is someone who can safely be rostered still going forward.

Zach Eflin - SP, Philadelphia Phillies - 72% rostered

Following Saturday's start, Eflin dropped his ERA from 4.39 to 4.20 (insert your own meme here). That's after his 6.0 IP outing against the Mets in which he gave up one run on five hits and a walk while striking out four. He didn't get a decision so his win-loss record stays at a disappointing 2-6. He has 87 strikeouts in 90.0 IP (23.1 K%). But I'm still bullish on him given his underlying numbers. Eflin has a 3.66 xERA, 3.45 xFIP, 3.61 SIERA and a .337 BABIP. His 2.9% BB% ranks in the 99th percentile and will be a reason why his BABIP is higher than most as he keeps the ball in the zone and induces more contact. That's also a reason why his ERA will likely be higher than his underlying numbers more often than not but there's plenty of room for his ERA to drop and for Eflin to be a solid starter at the back end of your rotation in shallower leagues. In deeper leagues, Eflin should be on all rosters still.

Adolis Garcia - OF, Texas Rangers - 89% rostered

Garcia has been one of the best waiver wire adds of the season. He's hit 20 homers in 66 games, which is tied-5th in MLB and the same as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Matt Olson. The reason why people are questioning whether or not to drop Garcia stems from his June numbers, in which he's hitting .253/.300/.446 with four homers in 22 games. Still impressive but a far cry from his pre-June numbers of .286/.323/.589 and 16 homers in 45 games. Given this is the first time Garcia has been a regular MLB starter and wasn't considered a high-end prospect (plus he's 28 years old), fantasy managers are wondering if he's hit the wall and will fall away the rest of the season. The power is legit as he hit 54 homers in 244 Triple-A games between 2018-19. That did come with a .254 batting average so it's safe to believe that his average his regress to nearer that mark. But Garcia should still provide enough homers and with the steals (seven so far), can still be at a five-category contributor in fantasy, albeit the counting stats won't be as impressive while playing for the Rangers (their 315 runs scored ranks 20th in MLB).

Charlie Blackmon - OF, Colorado Rockies - 89 %rostered

There's been a theme to this week's article, and that's to not ignore counting stats. That's true for Blackmon as much as anyone else. Of course, the four homers in 72 games is a disappointment, he doesn't run anymore so the zero steals shouldn't be unexpected and the .261 batting average is way down on his .302 career mark. But Blackmon's 37 RBI is tied-23rd among all outfielders and his 30 runs scored rank 44th. Given standard ten team leagues will mean rostering five outfielders, the runs and RBI means Blackmon should be in consideration for rostering in all leagues. If you have five better outfield options and need help with home runs or steals, then you can justify dropping him in shallow leagues. That's about it.

Rhys Hoskins - 1B, Philadelphia Phillies - 90% rostered

Hoskins' 16 home runs are the fifth-most among first baseman and he's on track for matching his career-high of 34 homers he hit in 2018. His .230 batting average is only marginally lower than his career .239 average coming into the season and the only real noticeable drop-off in his numbers this year is his 8.6% BB% (down from 15.3% pre-2021). To maintain the theme, Hoskins also ranks tied-9th in runs scored (39) among first basemen and eighth in RBI (43). Hoskins' expected stats are slightly better than his actual numbers but even if he continues on his current pace, he'll wind up having close to a career year. I understand his .146 average in June is a concern but that was largely due to an 0-for-31 run over eight games in the first half of the month. Since that run, he's hitting .205 with four homers in nine games. He is 0-for-10 in his last three games so hopefully, this won't be another huge slump. Regardless of that, I'm not dropping Hoskins in any format.



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George Kittle5 days ago

Loses Significant Weight This Offseason
Johnny Walker5 days ago

A Slight Favorite At UFC Saudi Arabia
Volkan Oezdemir5 days ago

Looks To Extend Win Streak At UFC Saudi Arabia
Antonio Trocoli5 days ago

Takes Fight On Three Days Of Notice At UFC Saudi Arabia
Ikram Aliskerov5 days ago

Faces Former Champ In UFC Saudi Arabia Main Event
Robert Whittaker5 days ago

Faces Replacement Opponent In UFC Saudi Arabia Main Event
Khalil Herbert6 days ago

Could Be On Roster Bubble
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF

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