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The Cut List (Week 4) - Time to Let Go?

We're past the 10% mark of the season now for this, April's penultimate Cut List. That still doesn't mean free rein to chop off your roster anyone you don't like, but samples are only increasing, playing time divisions becoming clearer, injuries piling up. That said, the Watch-Out list of players to keep for now won't appear, at least this week. While it's a cute play on the Watch List concept (hopefully), it mostly was to deal with extremely early samples where few players are truly cuttable. That's still the case for early samples, but it's a nuance that is difficult to maintain right now. That section may return in the future as events dictate.

Instead, today's theme is the short term. Each player below could eventually turn in a useful campaign, but the odds are lower than for others, and their reputation is also to the point where fellow managers may be slow to pick up on those signs of usefulness if they do appear.

Stats are through Friday, April 19. Remember that these recommendations are for standard leagues up to 12 teams, which of course means the players can be dropped in shallower leagues than 12. However, formats like dynasty or AL/NL-only are a completely different ballgame (so to speak). As usual, find a link to the Waiver Wire Pickup List for a preferred player at the end of each cut recommendation.

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Week 4 Cut Candidates

Brian Dozier (2B, WAS)

Dozier's biggest problem may not be that he's hitting .182/.237/.309. Okay, so maybe that is his biggest problem. But also, Howie Kendrick is hitting .455/.536/1.000. As a result, Kendrick is gaining playing time, and it's coming at Dozier's expense; although Dozier has started two consecutive games, Kendrick got the start in three of the previous four.

Although Kendrick plays the outfield, the Nationals are completely set there down to fourth outfielder Michael A. Taylor, and so second base is the natural place put Kendrick as long as he's this hot. That's bad news for Dozier, at least in the short term.

Nor is it a case of Kendrick blooping singles across the field while Dozier hits rockets into gloves. Kendrick is averaging 96.6 mph at 16.2 degrees for a whopping (and unsustainable) .627 xwOBA, while Dozier is at 87.7 mph, 7.2 degrees, and .262 on the xwOBA. For Dozier, that 7.2 degrees is worrying, as he has never been below 16.5 in a full season before. His walk rate of 5.5% is also half of his 11.1% marks in 2017 and '18 while his K rate is up to 23.7% from years closer to 20. Last year was a struggle and this season is shaping up to be even more of one.

Preferred pickup: Try for Ryan McMahon in Colorado, who will also offer positional flexibility. Chad Pinder does the same, albeit not in Colorado. Click here for more on McMahon, and here for more on Pinder.

Tyler White (1B, HOU)

White has played in 12 and started nine of Houston's 19 games. Not helping is the .212/.333/.242 slash line, 33.3% strikeout rate, 0.9 degree launch angle, or the .249 xwOBA, which is actually even lower than his .274 wOBA. Just to hit .212 he's needed a .350 BABIP; not coincidentally, his expected batting average per Statcast is a woeful .170.

Houston has a stacked offense and this could end up one of those vicious cycles where a player needs at-bats to break out of a slump, but gets fewer at-bats because he's slumping too badly. The only real sign of hope is that perhaps the patience exhibited by a 15.1% walk rate pays off somehow. Even in an OBP league, that leaves White as essentially a one-category asset. Perhaps it turns around, but sometimes, you can't afford to wait and see.

Lack of playing time plus struggling when playing is, as we've tried to establish, a wicked combination for a player's fantasy value, even if you like the talent.

Preferred pickup: Ryan McMahon works here (see Dozier for more).

Nick Pivetta (SP, PHI) and Corbin Burnes (SP, MIL)

This feels a bit cheap to mention, but yes, demoted pitchers can be cut in standard leagues, no matter how promising they are (or were). It's not without risks; someone who cut Touki Toussaint after he failed to make the Opening Day roster may have kicked themselves if unable to pick him back up after his fairly quick return to the Majors, especially if that someone's team ended up with Pivetta and Burnes. (Not to say that example comes from experience or anything.)

Unless you have spots for Not Active players, let these folks go. A player scuffling in MLB like Dozier or Rosario is at least accumulating stats, no matter how mediocre they might be; if you're stuck with them, you can at least pick spots against bad pitchers or in good parks to try and squeeze value somewhere on a Monday or Thursday with only a few games. A demoted player, however, just takes up a bench spot. And in this case, it's not one that has you excited like a blank slate such as Forrest Whitley.

A statistical deep dive is hardly necessary in a situation like this, unless there's some blatant reason why the demotion was a mistake in the first place. But Pivetta has a 4.73 xFIP and 4.82 SIERA. There is more optimism for Burnes with a 3.72 xFIP and 3.88 SIERA, but he's got a whopping 9.80 FIP thanks to an unbelievable 5.60 HR/9. Statcast backs that up with an expected slugging of .686 and expected wOBA of .446. Both demotion decisions are logical, and so is the decision to drop.

Preferred pickup: These players' values are so tanked, and pitching also so bad, that it's almost a punt on what to do when dropping. One suggestion, however, is Mike Soroka; more on Soroka here. Streaming the spot may make sense too.

Trevor May (RP, MIN)

Not only is May 0-for-0 in save situations, he has a 4.93 xFIP and 4.89 SIERA. Even Trevor Hildenberger--who got lost in the shuffle of May's hype, Taylor Rogers getting Minnesota's first save opportunity, and Blake Parker getting most of the rest--got a save chance before May. (Both of them. The player and the month? Let's move on.)

May's swinging strike rate improved every year from 2014-18, reaching a career high of 15.4% last season. This year, he's down to 11.3%, which is still above average but not by enough for a high-leverage reliever. And so while his 17.7% strikeout rate, barely half of last year's 35.0% mark, should improve, it's also not a complete fluke.

It appears Trevor May is fourth at best on Minnesota's ninth-inning depth chart. May may figure out how to start inducing whiffs again, but it could be a long road into save situations even if Parker falters. And even if May does figure it out, he could be used as the fireman instead of being limited to the ninth inning. But right now, May's larger issue is the path to providing ratio help once again. Give him time to figure it out on the wire. There isn't enough room on fantasy teams for any relief pitcher so buried on the saves depth chart.

Preferred pickup: Hector Neris isn't a full-time closer, but he is a part-time one, which is more than can be said for May. Click here for more on Neris.


The Watch Out List

Amed Rosario (SS, NYM)

The Mets are insisting that Amed Rosario happens, giving him 19 of their first 20 starts at shortstop. Rosario is resisting. He got the K rate down to 20.1% last season, but this year it's back up to near 2017 levels at 28.0%. Despite a .358 BABIP, he's hitting just .260, and he's swinging and missing 16.7% of the time, also up from last year.

The argument to keeping Rosario is to get steals at shortstop. He's two-for-three on the bases so far. Using a very crude estimate of how often a player goes, (SB+CS) / (1B+BB+HBP), Rosario attempted a steal 26.7% of the time last year (35/131) compared to only 15% of the time this year (3/20). Since he's batting so low in the order, it makes sense he's stealing less, as the pitcher's spot looms large in so many scenarios. But that only hurts his value even more.

Rosario's 2019 ceiling at this point is quite unimpressive. Even if he turns it around somewhat, a good year for him might only have fringe value. It may not be worth waiting around for in shallower leagues. Lewis Brinson, whose ownership at this point is limited to dynasties, is a more extreme example of the same idea.

Potential replacements: It would have been Scott Kingery (click here for more), but he's headed for the injured list. Perhaps someone like Niko Goodrum if he has shortstop eligibility in your league, or Garrett Hampson could be worth monitoring to see if he picks it up.


Last Week's Updates

Franmil Reyes, Jesse Winker, and Jake Arrieta are not in the chart because they were only ever on the Watch-Out list, and now have consecutive weeks as a player to HOLD.

Player Last Week This Week Reasoning
Ian Desmond Drop in 12 Drop in 12 No change in profile
Jung Ho Kang Drop in 12 Drop in 12 No change in profile; K rate still gigantic
Michael Wacha Drop in 12 Drop in 10 Value of stability up as demotions of Burnes, Pivetta, Sean Newcomb mount; but can still do better in shallower
Andrelton Simmons Drop in 10 Drop in 10 No change in profile
Jackie Bradley Jr. Drop in 10 Drop in 12 Not improving, and has less of a baseline of recent success than Simmons
Sandy Alcantara Drop in 10 Drop in 12 Though he had another good K/BB game, something to be said for continuing struggles and 4.46 SIERA
Dallas Keuchel Drop in 12 Drop in 12 Despite rumors of teams continuing to have interest, still appears no closer to signing
Hunter Strickland Drop in 12 Drop in 12 No change in profile
Andrew Heaney Drop in 12 Drop in 10 Still a way off, but signs of improving health plus pitching landscape justify caution
Jose Martinez Drop in 12 HOLD Currently playing thanks to simultaneous injuries to Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader
Johan Camargo Drop in 12 Drop in 10 Playing time has gotten somewhat more consistent, but still short of full time

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