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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 9

teoscar hernandez fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers 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.

Regular readers will know I try to avoid covering the same players all the time and seldom include the same name more than once every few weeks. But I'm getting more and more requests to look at players already featured in The Cut List and given we're into Week 9, it seems like a good idea to revisit some previously featured names. So this week, we're going to look at some guys who were originally covered between Weeks 3 to 7.

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?

Charlie Morton – SP, Atlanta Braves – 89% rostered

Back in Week 5's edition of the Cut List, Morton was 89% rostered. He had a 6.85 ERA through his first five starts and I stated I was holding him until the end of the month and would then consider dropping him if his struggles persisted.

Since then, Morton has had a 2-0 W-L record, 4.21 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 28 strikeouts (25.2 IP) in his five starts. His season numbers are now a 3-3 W-L record, 5.47 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 46 Ks in 49.1 IP. There's no doubting he's been better, but is he worth rostering still given his rostership hasn't changed?

In a vacuum, his last five starts were better than his first five starts, but only two were what I'd expect from Morton. His last two starts both saw him give up four earned runs and not pitch more than five innings. His start before that came against the Marlins and he allowed three earned runs in 5.1 IP.

Nothing to get excited about for sure. Nor is the fact he has a solitary quality start this year (the only time he's completed six innings). The same can be said for his 9.1% SwStr% (the lowest it's been since 2015). And his 4.97 xERA ranking in the 21st percentile is a downer too.

Verdict - Four weeks ago, I gave Morton until the end of the month before deciding if he should be dropped. I was concerned about his curveball becoming ineffective and since then, while the results have been marginally better, I'm still not sold on Morton this year. In deeper leagues, I'm probably still holding Morton and using him only in the better matchups, but still not expecting anything like last year. In shallower leagues, there are likely better options to roster or use the spot to stream/stash someone.

Joey Gallo – OF, New York Yankees – 41% rostered

Gallo was featured in The Cut List all the way back in Week 3 as a Reddit Request. Then, I was expecting a turnaround in Gallo's fortunes given he had Barrel% in the 91st percentile and his expected stats were all better than his actual numbers.

As of now, Gallo is hitting .173/.276/.301 with five homers, seven RBI, 13 runs, and no steals. He still strikes out a lot (38.8% K% in the first percentile) and walks a lot (12.5% BB% in the 88th percentile). And his 16.2% Barrel% is in the 94th percentile. So everything there seems normal.

Situation AVG OBP SLG wOBA ISO K% BB%
Bases empty .208 .321 .375 .315 .167 39.3% 14.3%
Man on first .131 .221 .213 .205 .082 38.2% 10.3%
Men in scoring position .100 .206 .133 .171 .033 41.2% 11.8%

The above table highlights where Gallo's fantasy numbers have really lacked. Despite five home runs, Gallo only has seven RBI, but if you only have a .100 batting average with runners in scoring position, RBI will be hard to come by.

This feels more like someone feeling the pressure to produce and forcing things too much. It's not something quantifiable but we have seen this every year, when a player is struggling, they perform even worse in the bigger spots. I do expect that to right itself over the course of a full season though.

All five of Gallo's home runs came in a three-week period and that's indicative of what to expect from him moving forward. Gallo's profile will forever lend itself to being streaky and fantasy managers seem to forget when drafting him that Gallo has only had a batting average better than .210 once in any season.

Verdict - I mentioned this four weeks ago, but Gallo is probably overvalued in standard leagues as his batting average can be a serious drag and he needs to hit 40 homers with ~100 RBI and runs to counter it. While I do believe he'll put up better numbers moving forward, realistically you can only hope for ~30 homers with a .200 average with ~50 RBI and runs depending on when he hits those homers and where he hits in the lineup. In shallow leagues, those counting stats are mitigated by the batting average, making Gallo replaceable unless you are in desperate need of power and the waivers are thin.

German Marquez – SP, Colorado Rockies – 33% rostered

Four weeks ago, Marquez was sporting a 6.92 ERA from his first five starts of the year (26.0 IP) and back then, I stated he wasn't worth rostering in shallow leagues. Nor was streaming him straightforward as he had better home numbers than on the road.

Since then, things haven't been any better. After 10 starts, Marquez has a 1-5 W-L record, 6.71 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 46 Ks (55.0 IP). His last five starts do contain two quality starts, although both were the bare minimum (6.0 IP and three earned runs allowed outings).

Marquez's 18.3% K% is still the lowest it's been since his first full season (2016), although it is up from the 15.7% K% he had four weeks ago. But his BB% has increased from 5.0% to 7.2% in that time and three of his last five starts came against teams currently inside the bottom-10 for runs scored.

The underlying numbers are still better than his ERA, with a 4.66 xERA, 3.89 xFIP, and 4.08 SIERA and his 7.5% Barrel% is in the 48th percentile. But he doesn't miss enough bats and having a HardHit% rank in the seventh percentile when you don't miss many bats is generally a recipe for disaster.

Verdict - Marquez is still a drop in shallow leagues and that can probably be extended to deeper leagues too. His home/road splits are now similar after his last disastrous outing at home (6.64 home ERA and 6.89 road ERA) so it's not like he can be trusted only on the road either. Marquez lacks the strikeouts to be relevant in that category and on a sub-.500 team in a tough division, wins aren't going to be easy to come by either. I do expect Marquez to get better and the ERA to lower, but not to the point I think him worthy of being rostered in anything but very deep leagues.

 

Hold For Now

Marcus Semien – 2B/SS, Texas Rangers – 96% rostered

Two months into the season and this is Semien's third time featuring in The Cut List. In Week 5, he found himself in the Reddit Requests section, Week 7 he progressed up to the Hot Seat and now has reached the Hold For Now portion of the article.

Two weeks ago when on the Hot Seat, I stated how you can't really drop Semien given we know what he can do. You can't start him because he's been so bad and there's no point trading him as you'll get very little in return. So all you can do is hold and hope he turns things around. And you know what, he kind of has.

In the last two weeks, Semien is hitting .222/.283/.389 with two homers, nine RBI, 11 runs, and five steals. Up to that point, Semien was hitting .182/.243/.234 with no homers, nine RBI, 13 runs, and three stolen bases. So he's produced more in the last two weeks than he had in the first six weeks of the season.

Even if these last two weeks are repeated every fortnight, Semien will still fall well short of his projections and what he was drafted for (with an ADP of ~39). But at least he's become someone you can start on your teams and is offering a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season.

And the thought process remains the same. If you've held Semien this long, there's no point dropping him now. You might get something better in return if you trade him but probably not enough to justify ditching him just as he starts to produce moderate numbers at the plate.

Jose Berrios – SP, Toronto Blue Jays – 91% rostered

Another one who was on the Hot Seat (back in Week 6), Berrios has continued to struggle over the last three weeks. His first start after being featured was a seven-innings-shutout against Seattle. That was followed by a quality start (6.1 IP and three earned runs) against the Cardinals.

Then came last Sunday's start against the Angels in which Berrios lasted just 2.1 IP, yielding six earned runs on six hits and a walk. He bounced back from his worst outing of the season by having his best outing yesterday, going 7.0 IP and striking out a career-high 13 batters while allowing just two earned runs.

That's left his season numbers as; 4-2 W-L record, 5.24 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 49 Ks (56.2 IP). And if we compare his Statcast profile from three weeks ago to where it is now, we can see there has been some actual decline.

The only things Berrios has done are improve his strikeout rate (from 15.3% to 19.6%) and his walk rate (from 7.0% to 6.5%). But that K% is still the lowest it's been since his 2016 debut season and his BB% doesn't mask the fact he's being hit hard on a regular basis.

Three weeks ago, I alluded to the news that Danny Jansen was due back and is the best defensive catcher on Toronto's roster so could help Berrios. But it was Alejandro Kirk who caught yesterday's gem so it seems the struggles have been solely on Berrios' shoulder.

He does have five quality starts on the season and six starts that have produced a sub-4.50 ERA. But the inconsistency makes it difficult to trust him every outing. Just comparing the last two starts should be enough to highlight the difficulty fantasy managers have had with rostering Berrios.

The fact that three of his last four outings have been quality starts and setting a career-high in strikeouts yesterday after struggling for Ks all season should be enough to warrant keeping Berrios for the time being. I'm still not sold on him being "back" and think there may be some more bumps in the road.

But I'm keeping Berrios rostered in almost any format and he's slowly starting to regain the trust of fantasy managers.

Tyler Mahle – SP, Cincinnati Reds – 67% rostered

Since his inclusion as a Reddit Request back in the Week 5 edition, Mahle has had an interesting time of things. He's made six starts with a 4.24 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 38 Ks (34.0 IP). Four of those starts saw Mahle go at least five innings and allow not more than two earned runs (including four quality starts).

Of the 16 earned runs Mahle has allowed in his last six starts, half of them came in one outing against the Cubs (4.0 IP). And that's sort of been the story for Mahle all season. Four of his 12 starts have had an ERA of 9.00 or more, while five have had an ERA of 3.60 or less. There's been little in between with him this year.

Mahle's big problem earlier in the season was walks. He had an 11.7% BB% back in Week 5 and that's only marginally improved to a 10.7% BB%. But his underlying numbers continue to offer hope that his ERA will continue to come down.

Mahle has a 3.66 xERA, 4.21 xFIP, and 4.12 SIERA, all of which are similar to what Mahle had four weeks ago. His total fantasy line of a 2-5 W-L record, 5.43 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 64 Ks (59.2 IP) isn't anything to get excited about, but still better than it was a month ago.

The inconsistency is frustrating, but Mahle has at least flashed his ability this season and the good starts are becoming more and more frequent. The Reds probably won't help Mahle reach double-digit wins and there could be more starts like the one against the Cubs.

But I'm still holding on to him for now and will continue to do so in all but the shallowest of leagues. If the blow-up starts become more regular and Mahle doesn't at least keep the walks in check, then I'll be dropping him more broadly.

 

On the Hot Seat

Jesse Winker – OF, Seattle Mariners – 68% rostered

We need to go back six weeks to when Winker was last featured in The Cut List. Then, he was hitting .149/.355/.170 with no homers, four RBI, six runs, and no stolen bases through 15 games. Now, Winker is hitting .218/.323/.314 with three homers, 21 RBI, 16 runs, and no steals (52 games). His third homer coming in yesterday's game.

So Winker has turned things around a bit, but it's still a far cry from what he produced last year; 24 homers, 71 RBI, 77 runs, and one stolen base, while hitting .305/.394/.556 (110 games). And while his luck continues to be of the bad variety, we're nearly a third of the way through the season and there's more to it than just misfortune.

We can look back at Winker's expected stats from late April and compare them to now.

Date xBA xBA %ile xSLG xSLG %ile xwOBA xwOBA %ile
24th April .266 63rd .477 67th .400 85th
05th June .288 79th .467 62nd .363 75th

Given his actual numbers (.218 BA, .314 SLG and .291 wOBA), we can say that Winker is still unlucky. But his expected power numbers have declined a bit and his OBP has dropped as Winker has looked to trade patience and power for more contact. Which has been somewhat successful.

But Winker has still only hit .241/.310/.362 since April 24th, so not exactly what you'd expect or want from him. But there has been a positive development recently, with Winker being inserted as the Mariners' leadoff hitter, something he's done in each of his last nine games.

Winker has a .390 OBP since his promotion to the top of the order, so is earning the right to be there and that should help Winker at least score a good number of runs. Of course, he's only scored three runs in those nine games while driving in five, but that trend likely won't continue if his role remains the same.

The one thing that does make me question if he can produce anything resembling his power numbers from previous years (36 homers in 164 games across the 2020 and 2021 seasons) is Winker's Barrel%. At present, it's sitting at 5.8% which ranks in the 31st percentile.

For comparison, in 2021 when he hit 24 homers in 110 games, Winker had an 11.2% Barrel% (74th percentile) and in 2021 (12 homers in 54 games), Winker had a 13.5% Barrel% (88th percentile).

The emergence of Julio Rodriguez has probably taken some of the spotlight away from Winker while the struggles of Jarred Kelenic removed a possible lineup crunch in the outfield. So Winker should continue to see regular playing time and the Mariners moving him to the leadoff spot suggests they want him playing every day too and this is a bid to get his bat going.

I'm still expecting better from Winker for the remainder of the season and the difference between his expected stats and actual numbers suggests his batting average should get nearer to his .279 career mark. But the quality of contact numbers doesn't hint at 25+ homers and even 20 might be a stretch this year.

Given Winker doesn't run (three stolen bases in 464 MLB games), he's only going to provide runs and RBI with a sprinkling of homers (unless yesterday kickstarts a hot streak). The number of runs and RBI will depend on if he sticks as the leadoff hitter or moves down the lineup more.

In shallow leagues, there could well be better options on waivers, especially if you're in greater need of homers or steals. If you just need runs (and RBI), Winker could be a useful contributor and in deeper leagues, I'd be more likely to keep him. But I wouldn't be too worried about dropping him if a better option was available on waivers.

To emphasize Winker's disappointing season to date, there are very few highlights of him. So instead, enjoy Rodriguez hitting the first (and so far, the longest) home run of his Major League career.

 

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.

Teoscar Hernandez – OF, Toronto Blue Jays – 94% rostered

Hernandez missed three weeks due to an oblique strain, but returned in early May and after a sluggish start, looks like he's started to get going. Through 29 games, Hernandez is hitting .229/.294/.385 with three homers, 14 RBI, 13 runs, and two stolen bases.

The Blue Jays offense as a whole hasn't managed to perform to expectations yet, ranking tied-19th in runs scored (221) but Hernandez and the Blue Jays are beginning to heat up. Hernandez is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak, in which he's hit .400/.462/.657 with one homer, seven RBI, eight runs, and one steal.

Oblique injuries can be notoriously difficult to overcome and can linger after a player returns from the IL. That could explain his struggles following his activation and if he is over the issue and healthy now, that'll also explain why he's looked more like his usual self over the last 10 days.

Between 2020 - 2021, Hernandez hit .295/.345/.538 with 48 homers, 150 RBI, 125 runs, and 18 steals in 193 games, leading to him having an ADP of ~29. His injury and slow start will probably mean he fails to return value at the end of the season. But if he is (and stays) healthy, Hernandez has a good chance of being a top-20 outfielder the rest of the year.

Yasmani Grandal – C/1B, Chicago White Sox – 73% rostered

Grandal was drafted as the fifth catcher, with an ADP of ~96 this preseason and has certainly been a disappointment. According to the ESPN Player Rater, he ranks as the 66th catcher and in Yahoo!, the 68th catcher.

That's largely down to his .160/.271/.212 slash line with two homers, nine RBI, six runs, and one stolen base in 45 games. A far cry from the .240/.420/.520 line with 23 homers, 62 RBI, and 60 runs Grandal put up in 2021.

This year is set to be the first in which Grandal doesn't hit 20+ homers (in a full year) since 2015. He does still have an elite walk rate (13.3% BB%) which ranks in the 89th percentile, but that is still down on last year's 23.2% BB%.

The catcher position is thin but in standard leagues where Grandal's OBP skill isn't of much use, he is likely replaceable with another catcher who can help you in some categories. I do expect him to hit for more power and get his batting average up to .200 but that'll still be a borderline top-12 catcher the rest of the season.

Jose Urquidy – SP, Houston Astros – 64% rostered

Urquidy entered 2022 with a career 3.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP (177.2 IP) in the Majors from 34 appearances (32 starts). This year, after 10 starts (51.0 IP), Urquidy has a 5-2 W-L record, 4.76 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts.

He's never been a prolific strikeout pitcher, but Urquidy's 17.5% K% this year is considerably down on his 20.0% K% career mark and only ranks in the 21st percentile. Urquidy does have a career-low 3.5% BB% which ranks in the 95th percentile. But that's about the only positive in his Statcast profile right now.

Urquidy's fastball velocity (93.6 MPH) is actually up 1.1 MPH from last year but has a .771 xSLG against it. That's a significant increase from the .493 xSLG his fastball had last year. Of 427 pitchers who have thrown at least 10 four-seam fastballs this year, Urquidy's xSLG ranks 392nd.

Urquidy does have significant home and road splits. Of his three home starts, Urquidy was one out away from all three being quality starts and has a 1.47 ERA (18.1 IP) while his road ERA is 6.61 (32.2 IP).

Although Minute Maid Park is more pitcher-friendly, those splits still seem extreme and more than just a beneficial ballpark. With only three of his 10 starts coming at home, there's still the 'very small sample size' caveat that applies to the splits.

In shallow leagues, Urquidy is more of a streaming option given his low strikeout numbers and his struggles so far. He's not a must-start in deeper leagues but pitching for the Astros should provide plenty of opportunities to register wins and he has completed five innings in five of his nine starts.



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Lacks Upside At TPC River Highlands
Russell Henley6 days ago

An Intriguing Option At Travelers
Shane Lowry6 days ago

Be Wary Of Shane Lowry At Travelers Championship
Si Woo Kim6 days ago

Still Trying To Putt Consistently
RANKINGS
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1B
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OF
SP
RP

RANKINGS

QB
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TE
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DEF

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