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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 24

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.

The finish line is in sight and regular season baseball is nearly over. The long and hard grind of a full fantasy baseball season has nearly concluded and for many of you, glory is in sight. You will have noticed fantasy football starting to dominate social media but don't let that distract you from bringing home the championship in your leagues. Now's not the time to get frustrated by a hitter who has had a bad week so you drop them for a player added to a club in the roster expansion, who winds up playing once a week.

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 a star for a random player who is on the only hot streak he'll ever have in his career. After last year's shortened season and lack of a Minor League season, we're into a bit of an unknown with some players having made more appearances this year than the last two combined. Another little wrinkle we need to consider in our decision-making. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

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Worth Dropping and Replacing

Austin Gomber - SP/RP, Colorado Rockies - 27% rostered

Gomber shot to prominence earlier in the season, but not in a good way. His first start of the season saw him walk seven batters in 3.0 IP. Then his fifth start of the season saw Gomber allow nine earned runs while only making five outs, rocketing his ERA to 6.65 (23.0 IP) to begin the season. From that point onwards, Gomber had a pretty spectacular run and his next 14 starts (74.1 IP) saw him pick up eight wins with an ERA of just 2.91.

Unfortunately, Gomber has had a rough run of late with his last four starts (18.0 IP) combining for an 8.50 ERA and his last start against the Rangers saw Gomber walk six batters. The long ball has also been a problem recently with Gomber giving up seven homers in the last four starts after allowing just 13 in his first 19 starts. He's due to take the mound for Sunday's game at home to the Braves with a 9-9 record, 4.53 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 113 strikeouts in 115.1 IP.

The most bizarre stat for Gomber this season is his home/road splits. Despite pitching in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB, Gomber has a 2.09 ERA at home (47.1 IP) and a 6.22 ERA on the road (68.0 IP). Gomber is currently lined up to make six remaining starts (three at home and three away) although the Rockies may ease back his workload.

Gomber only threw 49.2 innings in 2019 (across three levels) and 29.0 innings in 2020. He also missed almost a month earlier this season with left forearm tightness and the Rockies aren't playing for anything so they may take things easy with Gomber down the stretch. Given his recent struggles, Gomber may be showing signs of fatigue and if he struggles at home to the Braves later today, his rostership may plummet further.

Verdict - Gomber can be dropped in shallow leagues but might be a useful streaming option. Just keep in mind his home/road splits that begs the question; are you willing to stream him in Coors? In deeper leagues, you can keep Gomber but will likely need to start him every time unless you're confident enough to bench him on the road.

 

Paul DeJong - SS, St. Louis Cardinals - 23% rostered

DeJong has found himself on more and more waivers, largely in part due to losing the starting shortstop role to Edmundo Sosa. DeJong is sporting a .198/.289/.383 line on the year with 16 homers, 40 runs, 40 RBI and three steals in 95 games. Since August 01st, DeJong is hitting .186/.279/.356 (68 plate appearances). Compare that to Sosa who has a .274/.353/.403 line on the season (94 games) and since August 01st is hitting .354/.434/.615.

DeJong does have better defensive stats but not to the point his lack of production offensively is offset by it. The Cardinals are still in the thick of the wildcard race so will continue to go with what gives them the best chance of winning. Right now, that's Sosa at shortstop. Given Sosa's career Minor League numbers (.283/.334/.413 with 44 homers and 37 steals in 547 games), it's hard to believe he'll provide much fantasy value but should continue to hit well enough to keep DeJong on the bench this year.

This week, DeJong has made just one start and entered as a pinch hitter once but failed to get on base in any of the four plate appearances. You could point to his rib fracture back in May (which cost DeJong a month of the season) as a reason why he's struggled but he was hitting .177/.277/.371 prior to the injury so it simply looks like DeJong is just having the worst season of his MLB career.

Verdict - Heading into the last four months of the regular season, do you really want to be rostering a bench bat? Someone who has an 86 wRC+ on the year? I thought not. DeJong is droppable in all leagues.

 

Hold For Now

Jameson Taillon - SP, New York Yankees - 59% rostered

After throwing just 37.1 innings over the last two years, Taillon has had a decent first season with the Yankees. He's made 26 starts (131.2 IP) with an 8-5 record, 4.44 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 131 strikeouts. His 23.6% K% might only be in the 50th percentile but is a career-high and he's on course for throwing the second-most innings of his career.

Similarly to Gomber, Taillon was having a much better year but his last four starts have taken their toll. He had a 3.82 ERA from his first 22 starts but his last four starts (18.2 IP) have culminated in an 8.20 ERA. The reason I'm more bullish on Taillon is those last four starts also have a 4.65 xFIP and 4.26 SIERA, both of which are considerably better than the ERA.

Taillon also has a 3.94 xERA on the season (56th percentile) and pitches for a Yankees team who should win more games than they lose the remainder of this season. Although not set in stone, he's lined up to face the Blue Jays, Mets, Orioles and Rangers in his next four starts so he has a good chance to lower his ERA and pick up more wins.

The Yankees have been careful with Taillon's usage this year but aren't in a position they can really shut him down or move him to the bullpen as long as he's effective. While I think most shallow leagues have better options than Taillon, pitching tends to be harder to come by this time of year with fantasy managers more likely to stream starters so Taillon is someone I'd keep hold of and hope he does turn things around over his next four starts, three of which are favorable.

 

Kyle Farmer - C/1B/2B/3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds - 59% rostered

Farmer is having a "breakout" season after turning 30 and having just 364 plate appearances over the prior four seasons with the Dodgers and Reds. He's already at 448 plate appearances (127 games) this season and has a .259/.315/.407 line with 13 homers, 51 runs, 52 RBI and two steals. While he's predominantly been the Reds shortstop (102 games), he's featured at first, second and third base as well as in the outfield.

That versatility has provided Farmer with much more use in fantasy too, especially Yahoo! leagues where he can be played at catcher. Among catcher eligible players, Farmer ranks tied-13th in homers, tied-seventh in runs and eighth in RBI. In deeper leagues in which Farmer is not catcher eligible, being able to fill him in at any infield spot and getting useful stats makes Farmer a valuable addition to rosters.

He had struggled a bit throughout August but is having a productive week, going 6-for-17 with two homers, five runs and five RBI. Farmer has been hitting fifth or sixth most of the last few weeks which should help him to keep tallying runs and RBI moving forward. Those who dropped Farmer en masse last weekend may look to pick him back up this week and if you kept him rostered during his August "struggles", your patience and been rewarded and should continue to be.

 

On the Hot Seat

Yu Darvish - SP, San Diego Padres - 96% rostered

Darvish had an ADP of ~18 in drafts this year and as the fifth pitcher drafted, he's failed to provide value at that ADP. He's managed 140.0 IP (25 starts) despite two IL stints and prior to hitting the IL for the first time in July, Darvish was on track towards having his best full season in MLB.

Through 18 starts (105.0 IP), Darvish had a 3.09 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and struck out 125 batters. Since returning from that first IL stint, Darvish has made seven starts which have combined for a 6.94 ERA with 42 strikeouts and has an 0-6 record in that time.

That's left Darvish with a 4.05 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Despite having an ERA over four, his WHIP is still excellent due to his 5.6% BB% which ranks in the 87th percentile. His 29.2% K% is down on his 29.8% career mark but still ranks in the 82nd percentile. In fact, a lot of his Statcast profile is in the top percentiles and would make you think he's been a top-5 starting pitcher this season.

Darvish also has impressive underlying numbers with a 3.12 xERA, 3.67 xFIP and 3.38 SIERA. It's a similar tale over his last seven starts. Darvish has a 3.67 and 3.42 SIERA from those seven starts which suggests he's going through a period of bad luck rather than complete regression.

Darvish only has 11 quality starts, ten of which came before July and his last win came on June 21st (11 starts ago). It's been a real struggle for Darvish and his fantasy managers over the last two months and that's been true for the Padres who are currently fighting for the second wildcard spot. That should mean there are no worries about him being shut down at any point and he's scheduled to make five more starts this season.

The next start is due to be against the Angels who have the second-worst wRC+ (79) since August 01st. It almost feels like a make-or-break start for Darvish and if you've held on to him throughout his struggles, you should be starting him next week. If you're not willing to start him against one of the worst offenses in the league this season, there's no point in you rostering him still.

Given his underlying numbers during his recent struggles, I feel like he can finish the season strongly but I am a bit cautious given his injury issues and how the struggles have come since he hit the IL for the first time. If he gets lit up by the Angels next week, there's a case for Darvish to be dropped in shallower leagues.

 

The Reddit Requests

Here are some names from the readers following last weekend's post on Reddit. 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.

Nelson Cruz - Util, Tampa Bay Rays - 95% rostered

Crus is on track for a seventh straight 30 homer season (excluding last year's shortened season). After hitting 19 homers in 85 games with the Twins, with 44 runs and 50 RBI, he was traded to the Rays, where he has struggled. In 33 games for Tampa Bay, Cruz has a .206/.266/.435 line but has eight homers, 21 runs and 23 RBI. While not great, since his debut with the Rays, Cruz ranks tied-36th in homers, tied-60th in runs and tied-37th in RBI.

He's still hitting in the heart of the lineup for the team who leads MLB in runs scored and even when he's been below his best, he's a top-40 contributor in two of the five main fantasy hitting categories. Cruz has defied father time for so long, I don't worry about him slowing down now and the only thing which may harm Cruz's value for the remainder of the season is if the Rays opt to rest him for a few games before the postseason.

 

Austin Meadows - OF, Tampa Bay Rays - 94% rostered

Meadows .237/.322/.454 looks disappointing and certainly doesn't match his 2019 breakout season in which he hit .291/.364/.558 with 33 homers (138 games). He's already hit 22 homers so should reach 25 and has a chance of finishing the season with 30 home runs if he has a big month. Meadows' one big asset in fantasy has been the RBI he's produced. In fact, here's the list of all outfielders with more RBI than Meadows this season.

.....

That's right, there is no one. Meadows leads all outfielders in RBI (fourth overall), and is also tied-29th in homers and runs. He is only hitting .216/.286/.352 since August 01st and has played just 24 games in that timeframe as he has sat against left-handed pitching (LHP) more frequently in recent weeks. Given he's hitting .193/.273/.253 against LHP this year, compared to .255/.345/.550 against RHP, it's not a bad idea to bench him in fantasy on the increasingly rare occasions he starts against a leftie. Even if his starts do dry up a bit this month, he's still a player you want to keep rostered, especially in daily leagues when you can bench him when the Rays face LHP.

 

Ryan McMahon - 1B/2B/3B, Colorado Rockies - 78% rostered

McMahon is having a similar season to his 2019 breakout in which he hit .250/.329/.450 with 24 homers in 141 games. So far, McMahon has 20 homers in 127 games with a .255/.326/.447 line, 70 runs and 68 RBI. His 25.0% K% is in the 28th percentile but is still an improvement on his career 28.8% K% pre-2021. It shouldn't come as a surprise that McMahon has significantly better numbers at home than on the road. In Colorado, McMahon is hitting .290/.354/.494 (66 games) while he's hitting .218/.296/.398 on the road (60 games).

His homers are split evenly with ten at home and ten on the road so it isn't a simple case of benching him when the Rockies aren't at Coors Field and his positional versatility does help in deeper leagues. According to the ESPN Player Rater , McMahon is ranked 27th among corner infielders and 29th among middle infielders. Although McMahon doesn't stand out in any one category, he's not a drag in any so is still worthy of being rostered as a corner or middle infielder in all but the shallowest leagues.

 

Sean Manaea - SP, Oakland Athletics - 76% rostered

On Friday, Manaea looked back to his best and seems to have put his August struggles behind him. Going into August, Manaea had a 3.01 ERA from 21 starts (122.2 IP) with 137 strikeouts. In five August starts (20.0 IP), he put up a 9.90 ERA with 19 strikeouts and only managed to complete five innings once. Against the Blue Jays on Friday, Manaea gave up two earned runs over seven innings with nine strikeouts before the A's bullpen fell apart.

That's left him with a 3.91 ERA on the season and a closer look at his August numbers paints a better picture than his ERA would suggest. Across those five starts, he had a 4.71 xFIP and 4.51 SIERA. On the season Manaea also has a 3.53 xFIP and 3.63 SIERA. His 26.2% K% is his highest outside of the 27.5% K% he had in 2019 (29.2 IP). He is currently only 11 innings shy of a career-high and after throwing just 83.2 IP over the last two seasons, workload questions might arise this month. But Friday looked like a step back in the right direction and I'd be keen to keep him rostered for the remainder of the season.

 



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We are now rapidly approaching the process of free agency, which will soon provide pathways for some running backs to seize significant roles in their new landing spots. Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, and D'Andre Swift are among the collection of backs who could resurface in new environments. The player movement that will eventually... Read More


Anthony Richardson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL News

Early 2024 Quarterback Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

The quarterback landscape in fantasy has changed in recent years with more and more managers selecting one early. Last year, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts all went in the first three rounds. That shouldn't change either in 2024 fantasy drafts, but the order of those quarterbacks might.  After another QB1 finish, Allen should... Read More


Geno Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

2024 Free Agency Preview: Biggest Positional Needs For The Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks, for the first time since 2009, will have a new head coach. The front office opted to move on from Pete Carroll. Over the past three years, he has fallen further and further behind Sean McVay (Rams) and Kyle Shanahan (49ers). Instead of selecting a strong offensive mind to score with these two... Read More