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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 8

Steven Kwan fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers waiver wire MLB injury news

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.

Just like that, a quarter of the season is done. We already have an idea of which teams are going to be competing for playoff spots and who will be sellers at the trade deadline. Fantasy managers should also have a good idea of where their rosters' strengths and weaknesses are, a key component to determining if a player is worth dropping or not.

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.

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

 

Worth Dropping and Replacing?

Zack Greinke – SP, Kansas City Royals – 43% rostered

As of Saturday, there are 87 pitchers with at least 40.0 IP. Of those 87, Greinke's 23 strikeouts are the fewest. While he's not been a high strikeout pitcher for a while, he did still have a 23.1% K% in 2019 so the fact it's now sitting at 11.3% K% is quite the fall off.

Greinke is also yet to win a game, with an 0-3 W-L record from his nine starts (47.2 IP), despite going at least five innings on seven occasions. The Royals have the worst record in the American League so it may not be a shock that only four wins have been accredited to their starting rotation.

Greinke is also giving up runs with a 4.53 ERA (which would be his highest ERA since 2005) and a 1.30 WHIP (highest since 2006). The one saving grace is his 3.9% BB% which ranks in the 93rd percentile. However, it's not much of a saving grace if you don't strike out batters and are being regularly hit instead.

Verdict - Greinke's 5.69 xERA, 4.57 xFIP and 4.81 SIERA don't offer much hope of a renaissance from the 38-year-old. Granted, 50% of his earned runs allowed have come from two outings, one of which was in Coors Field, but there's no strikeout or win upside with Greinke either. He's only a deep league option or a streamer in a really good matchup if you need to lower your ratios.

Zach Plesac – SP, Cleveland Guardians – 33% rostered

Speaking of struggling pitchers with a low strikeout rate, that moves us nicely on to the Guardians righty, who has a 1-4 W-L record from his eight starts (43.1 IP), 5.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 28 strikeouts. Plesac's 14.6% K% is in the tenth percentile and is a career-worst in the majors.

Remember that list of 87 pitchers to have thrown at least 40 innings? Plesac has the seventh-fewest strikeouts of those pitchers. Unlike Greinke, Plesac's 6.8% BB% is good, not great, ranking in the 65th percentile.

Plesac's fastball velocity is down, averaging 91.4 MPH in 2022, after averaging 92.8 MPH in each of the last two years. And while that hasn't been an effective pitch, none of his secondary offerings have been good either, as the below table shows.

Pitch type Usage BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA
Fastball 43.1% .295 .328 .426 .588 .373 .432
Changeup 23.0% .261 .335 .391 .627 .301 .413
Slider 22.7% .269 .288 .481 .475 .339 .336
Curveball 10.4% .308 .271 .538 .525 .368 .331

Please can't even claim to be unlucky as those expected numbers are considerably worse for his fastball and changeup, near-identical on his slider, and only slightly better for the curveball. His underlying numbers tell a similar story with a 6.26 xERA, 4.77 xFIP and 4.77 SIERA.

Verdict - Like Greinke, Plesac doesn't offer anything in the way of upside and is only a streaming option or a matchup-dependent starter in deep leagues (if the matchup is good). He has completed five innings in six of his eight starts but the Guardians have only won three games more than the Royals so wins aren't exactly a given either.

Steven Kwan – OF, Cleveland Guardians – 30% rostered

Sticking with the Guardians and the hottest waiver pick-up from earlier in the season is now one of the most dropped players in fantasy baseball. After an impressive start to his MLB career, Kwan is now hitting .248/.353/.342 with one homer, 13 RBI, 20 runs, and one stolen base.

In May, Kwan is hitting .174/.269/.232 with just two extra-base hits. This week, Kwan has found himself hitting down the order, between the sixth and eighth spots in the lineup, before returning to the number two spot on Saturday. He has also sat against left-hand starters on occasion.

Kwan has a .244/.355/.367 slash line against righties and .259/.344/.259 against lefties, so it's only a lack of power against LHP that is the difference and for someone who lacks power anyway (his .354 xSLG is in the tenth percentile), that shouldn't be a major reason for platooning Kwan.

Kwan is still near-impossible to strike out, with his 8.6% K% ranking in the 99th percentile and he is walking a lot (12.9% BB% ranks in the 86th percentile). That's far less valuable in fantasy if he's going to be hitting in the bottom third of the lineup regularly, as opposed to batting second.

Verdict - In points leagues or those counting walks/OBP, Kwan still retains solid value, especially as an in-season pick-up. But with a batting average that's starting to decline, little power, and being a so-so stolen base threat, Kwan isn't rostereable in shallower standard leagues.

 

Hold For Now

Yoan Moncada – 3B, Chicago White Sox – 73% rostered

Moncada missed the start of the season with an oblique injury, making his season debut on May 9th. He's yet to get things going, with two homers, four RBI, four runs and no steals in 14 games, while hitting .136/.177/.254.

His second homer came in his fifth game as Moncada looked like he was fully recovered from the oblique injury, but his struggles since then have left question marks over whether or not there is a lingering issue. There haven't been any reports about ongoing health issues so that's just speculation on my part. We have seen in the past how oblique strains can cause problems long-term after the player returns to the field. Even if he's fully healthy, the struggles may be down to a limited Spring and the fact he's only played 14 games, so is still getting up to speed.

Given those factors, I'm prepared to hold Moncada for a little longer. If he is working up to speed or slowly getting back to health, I expect him (and the White Sox offense) to improve. If the struggles persist in the weeks to come, then I'll be reconsidering.

Joc Pederson – OF, San Francisco Giants – 48% rostered

It may seem strange to include Pederson given his three-homer game on Tuesday. His inclusion is nothing to do with the altercation with Tommy Pham on Friday, seemingly over their Fantasy Football league, but Pederson is on more waivers than he is on teams and has cropped up regularly in interactions about dropping him.

The main reasoning is a lack of playing time, as Pederson doesn't start against LHP all that often. Of his 125 plate appearances, only 11 have come against lefties. This shouldn't be used as a knock against him, providing he continues to hit RHP as well as he has done.

On the year, Pederson is hitting .264/.336/.600 with 11 homers, 26 RBI, 17 runs, and one stolen base (37 games). He's hitting the ball harder than almost everyone else with career-highs in Barrel% (20.9%), average exit velocity (95.0 MPH), and ISO (.336).

Fantasy baseball is largely about accumulating stats so missing out on ~25% potential plate appearances due to a platoon isn't ideal. However, Pederson is just over a quarter of the way through the plate appearances he had last year (481). If he continues in this vein, he'll finish the year with around 40 homers, 100 RBI, and 70 runs.

The struggle for fantasy managers comes in weekly lineup leagues. Depending on how in-depth you get with your team, planning when to play him can become tiresome if he winds up playing two games in a week going 1-for-8 with no stats. For example, last week Pederson went 2-f0r-12 without recording a stat. Meanwhile, you might have benched Anthony Santander for him, who had three homers, seven RBI, and six runs.

In daily roster move formats, you can start Pederson when he plays and bench him when he sits, making him rosterable in all such leagues. In shallower head-to-head weekly roster moves leagues, it can become difficult managing your roster with him but he is certainly someone you can trade as opposed to outright drop.

Alex Cobb – SP, San Francisco Giants – 43% rostered

Pederson's teammate is much easier to analyze from a fantasy standpoint. In seven starts (31.2 IP), Cobb has a 3-2 W-L record, 6.25 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and 39 strikeouts. Not good, right? Well, what if I told you in one of my leagues, I just traded away Randall Grichuk for Alex Cobb. Here's why.....

Cobb currently has a 2.37 xFIP, 2.56 SIERA, and 1.93 xERA (which ranks in the 98th percentile). According to Statcast, six qualified pitchers have a better xERA. None of them have started a game this year. It's exactly the same when looking at the xwOBA leaderboard too.

I would post his Statcast profile, but you wouldn't believe it was his. So instead, click the link here to go see for yourselves.

Cobb's 27.7% K% is a career-high and his pitch velocity is better than ever. Cobb's sinker, which he throws 43.3% of the time, is averaging 94.5 MPH (2.0 MPH faster than his previous high). I'm banking on the fact that no one's luck can be this bad for this long.

Health is my only concern with Cobb, as he's only totaled 158.0 IP in the three years before this season and hasn't reached 180.0 IP in any season. He's already had one IL stint this year and there's every chance he finds himself on the IL again. Should the luck correct itself, even 100.0 IP more would be incredibly valuable if Cobb's expected numbers materialize into his actual numbers. If he stays healthy the rest of the season, he could be a top-20 starting pitcher from June onwards.

If you dropped Cobb already, I'd be going to pick him back up. If he's sitting on waivers, go and nab him. If you need a starting pitcher and don't want to trade away a haul to get one, Cobb is the perfect buy-low candidate.

 

On the Hot Seat

Trevor Rogers – SP, Miami Marlins – 82% rostered

Rogers had an ADP of ~92 this preseason, being taken as an SP2/3. He's failed to live up to that ADP right now with a 2-5 W-L record, 5.23 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 41.1 IP (nine starts). All of his numbers are down on last year's breakout season in which he had a 7-8 record, 2.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 157 strikeouts (133.0 IP).

The comparison between Rogers' Statcast profiles for last year and 2022 is like chalk and cheese.

The first thing to address is Rogers's fastball velocity, which is near identical to last year (94.5 MPH in 2021 and 94.6 MPH in 2022). His usage of the fastball has dropped from 57.7% to 51.5% this year, which given the numbers against it, isn't a bad thing.

Rogers fastball has a .338 xBA, .642 xSLG and .439 xwOBA this year. Last year, that line was .219 xBA, .362 xSLG and .306 xwOBA. His changeup and slider have similar numbers so the problem seems to lie in his fastball.

While there doesn't appear to be much difference in his fastball, the issues seem to be in the location of it. The below graphic (from Statcast) shows the location percentage of his fastballs thrown against right-hand hitters and the wOBA of each location.

What's noticeable is that in three of the most popular zones his fastball is thrown to contain two of the three highest wOBA. It may be a bit simplistic, but his fastball lacks the life some other top-tier starters have and it's not in the elite velocity range, so throwing into zones the hitters can do damage to it is far from optimal.

Jacob Stallings was traded for by the Marlins this offseason as a defense-first catcher to help the young rotation and it may be some early difficulties (especially without a full Spring) getting on the same page. Stallings is only in the 26th percentile for framing so hasn't lived up to his expectations either.

Rogers has flashed his potential on occasion this year. Of his nine starts, he's only completed six innings once. Five times he's got through five or more innings allowing two earned runs or fewer. The three starts of five or more earned runs in four innings or fewer have skewed the numbers slightly.

I'm not prepared to dump Rogers to waivers just yet, with last year still living in recent memory. However, this year's version of Rogers doesn't appear to be the same as last year's version and he's not someone who I'm starting regardless of the opposition.

His stock is so low that trading him away won't get you much in return so I'd be holding Rogers in any league format (except shallow leagues counting quality starts). I expect better days ahead but I'm not expecting anything close to his 2021 numbers for the remainder of this year.

 

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.

Alex Bregman – 3B, Houston Astros – 97% rostered

For someone with an ADP of ~89 this preseason, Bregman has been a bit of a disappointment in the early going. Through 46 games, Bregman is hitting .239/.351/.421 with six homers, 26 RBI, 22 runs and no stolen bases.

Bregman's plate discipline has been excellent, with a 15.2% K% (81st percentile) and 14.1% BB% (93rd percentile). His 16.7% Whiff% is the highest it's been since his debut season in 2016 but is still in the 89th percentile.

The concern is Bregman's quality of contact, with a 7.5% Barrel% (44th percentile) and 89.1 MPH average exit velocity (48th percentile). For context, that's not the be-all-and-end-all for Bregman if we look at his 2019 season (his best statistical year). He can still hit a long home run with the best of them.

In 2019, Bregman hit .296/.423/.594 with 41 homers, 112 RBI, 122 runs, and five stolen bases. In 2019, Bregman also had a 4.8% Barrel% (21st percentile) and 89.3 MPH average exit velocity (53rd percentile).

Now, you can make all the assumptions you want about buzzers, trash cans, and dead balls, but the fact is, only five third basemen have more RBI and ten have more runs than Bregman. He also ranks tied-10th at the position in homers and with a .239 batting average being about league average now, he's still a starting third baseman in fantasy.

Has he produced at the level expected and drafted at? No. Is he worth cutting? Also, no. Even if he stays at this level for the remainder of the season, Bregman should still be at the very least a solid corner infielder.

Chris Taylor – 2B/3B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – 90% rostered

If Bregman is not a cut, Taylor isn't either. Their stats are quite similar, with Taylor having five homers, 21 RBI, 22 runs, and three steals, while hitting .260/.345/.473. He's homered twice already this week and despite his versatility, he's the Dodgers regular left fielder having played there 37 times in his 43 games played.

His positional versatility is also useful in fantasy, where he qualifies in three infield spots too. Although as I mention regularly, in shallow leagues it isn't as useful with the waiver wire usually containing decent options at all positions.

Last year, Taylor hit .254/.344/.438 with 20 homers, 73 RBI, 92 runs, and 13 stolen bases. That was enough to see him have an ADP of ~137 this preseason. He's on course for similar numbers this year and there's no reason to think he won't be able to continue that so he's not someone I'm considering dropping.

Alex Wood – SP, San Francisco Giants – 56% rostered

The second of the Giants' starting rotation to feature and although the numbers aren't as extreme as Cobb's, Wood can also consider himself to be unlucky so far this year. Through nine starts (43.0 IP), Wood has a 3-4 W-L record, 4.81 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts.

Last night against the Reds, Wood allowed three earned runs in 5.2 IP. All of the damage came in the first inning when Kyle Farmer hit a three-run homer with two outs. Wood retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced before being pulled in the sixth inning following a Joey Votto single.

That ERA is despite a 4.37 xERA, 3.10 xFIP, and 3.38 SIERA. The remainder of his numbers is pretty s0-s0, with a 23.7% K% (57th percentile), a 6.8% BB% (65th percentile), and 7.7% Barrel% (46th percentile).

Like Cobb, Wood has had health problems of his own which limited him to 26 starts last year (138.2 IP). Wood did have a 10-4 W-L record, 3.83 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 152 strikeouts and that's a similar line to what I expect Wood to end 2022 with. Maybe a slightly higher WHIP and an ERA just north of 4.00.

Wood isn't quite the same as Cobb in that he should be a top-20 starting pitcher based on his underlying number, but he's still rosterable in deeper leagues. In shallow leagues, Wood is more a streaming option but should be one of the better ones on any given day.



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Fantasy Football Defense Rankings (D/ST)

    Fantasy Football Rankings by NFL Position ALL - QB - RB - WR - TE - DEF   Defense (D/ST) Rankings Articles On this page you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings for team defenses (D/ST) and the NFL season. All of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings analysis, advice and articles related to the defense position appear here. Our fantasy football rankings articles include analysis on numerous league... Read More


Sam LaPorta - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings (TE)

    Fantasy Football Rankings by NFL Position ALL - QB - RB - WR - TE - DEF   Tight End (TE) Rankings Articles On this page you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings for tight ends (TE) and the NFL season. All of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings analysis, advice and articles related to the tight end position appear here. Our fantasy football rankings articles include analysis on... Read More


Jared Goff - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Players To Target And Avoid – NFC North

The 2024 NFL regular season is still a few months away. However, the Scott Fish Bowl is underway, meaning it’s officially redraft fantasy football season. While most redraft leagues won’t kick off until mid-August, it’s never too early to prepare. Fantasy players can build a winning roster in multiple ways. Your draft strategy could change... Read More


Will Levis - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

2024 Fantasy Football Draft Sleepers List by Nick Mariano

This premium article is part of our 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and a free sample of the expert analysis loaded up in RotoBaller's Draft Kit. Enjoy this premium article for free for a limited time. All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Sleeper remains a mythical word that can mean... Read More


Sam LaPorta - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Early-Round Overvalued Draft Picks for QB, RB, WR, TE (Premium Content)

This premium article is part of our 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and a free sample of the expert analysis loaded up in RotoBaller's Draft Kit. Enjoy this premium article for free for a limited time. All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. While writing about sleepers and positive outcomes is... Read More