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The Cut List (Week 10) - Time to Let Go?


Welcome to June, and to something a little different this week, although it may end up a one-week affair. Today we suggest a couple cuts each at varying league sizes: 10, 12, and 14-15 teams. Recommendations in one league size obviously apply to smaller leagues. You can also feel free to drop a shallower suggestion in a deeper league. Generally, however, the dividing line is there for a reason.

Stats are through Friday, May 31. The usual weekly notes do not apply, of course. Also, the Watch-Out List is on hiatus given the new format. Let's see how this goes.

As usual, you can find ideas on how to replace your cut candidates at the Waiver Wire Pickup List.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

10-Team Cut Candidates

Nick Markakis (OF, ATL)

Potentially, anyone who rosters Markakis is getting exactly what is expected from him, a strong batting average and some runs and RBI in a strong lineup. However, as someone who rarely either homers or steals, his usefulness in shallower leagues is limited.

Lately Markakis has been batting fifth in Atlanta's lineup. It's a nice spot, but it's one that is more conducive to driving in runs than scoring them. Markakis' strengths (reaching base) and weaknesses (power) as a hitter, however, are more conducive to scoring runs than driving them in. So it's not the best fit.

Markakis would be a worse hitter if he moved away from his strengths and tried to sky the ball out of the park, but at the same time that limits his ceiling. In shallower 5x5 leagues, getting the rate stat category plus both team-dependent counting stats is not necessarily enough to roster a player.

Marcus Stroman (SP, TOR)

Marcus Stroman is fine, but the Blue Jays are bad, and that is not a good combination for a starting pitcher's fantasy value. And while you got a 2.74 ERA from Stroman entering Saturday's contest at Coors, that's about all you were getting thanks to a 1.33 WHIP, just a 19.5% K rate, and only three wins due to bad support from Toronto's hitters. It's a weak 2.74 ERA as well, with a 4.07 xFIP behind it and an even worse 4.42 SIERA. Get out before this one blows up.

Even Stroman's 12-team value is questionable with all of this going on, but he does have the benefit of usually being a sub-4.00 SIERA pitcher. Of course, SIERA is more predictive than descriptive, and this year it's predicting impending doom. Plus, Stroman's SIERA has increased every season of his career, even including the incomplete ones like 2015 and '18. Obviously, that's a bad trend.

Hopes that Stroman can keep his ERA well below his peripherals are the only reason to hang on, but that could well be a losing game. At least in 10-teamers, it's best to get out now before too many more starts against New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay.

 

12-Team Cut Candidates

Jose Martinez (OF, STL)

This season has been a bit of a roller coaster for Martinez. He had no playing time earlier in the season (and was a Week 2 cut candidate), found some time thanks to injuries, kept it because of his batting average, then lost it again as the average fell. Although he has played in all 56 Cardinals game this year, he started just four of St. Louis' first 16 games, and now only three of their last nine entering play on Saturday, but also 30 of the 31 team games in between.

During that 31-game stretch, Martinez found his way back to fantasy rosters as he hit .333/.395/.468. It was somewhat of a Markakis-like run, with three homers and single steal inducing reliance not only on his personal success to score and drive in runs but that of his team. However, since May 3 (which includes some overlap with the 31-game sample), he is hitting just .224/.298/.329. There went the regular playing time.

Every player has hot and cold streaks, but when the cold streak cuts your starts by two-thirds, it becomes a difficult situation for fantasy players. Markakis, as a full-time player who has not met any resistance to such status, does have 12-team value -- it's the shallower leagues where his profile becomes an issue. Martinez, meanwhile is rosterable when he plays, and not rosterable when he does not play. The fact that he has bounced between the two, plus his statistical profile, makes it unlikely to cost very much for very long if someone swoops in to grab him on the wire.

Joe Musgrove (SP, PIT) and Chris Archer (SP, PIT)

Musgrove has a 4.57 ERA and a 3.59 FIP. He has a 4.59 xFIP (and 4.67 SIERA). Home run suppression is the only thing keeping all of Musgrove's peripherals from lining up with his ERA. Musgrove's K% has fallen every year he's pitched in the Majors: from 21.5% in 2016 to 21.2% to 20.6% and now just 18.6% this season to date. What is Musgrove giving you this season? Nothing much at all.

Even when Musgrove was relatively successful during April, with a 1.54 ERA, there were reasons for concern, as although his FIP was a still-great 2.52, his xFIP was merely okay at 3.90. With a devastating May (8.10/4.85/5.41 in ERA/FIP/xFIP) now in the mix, it's hard to say where Musgrove's standard league value lies. Pittsburgh's tough division only adds to his difficulties; all four offenses (with the possible exception of Cincinnati's) are a gauntlet for opposing pitchers and hitter's ballparks abound (especially Cincinnati's). Chris Archer, also cuttable in 12-teamers (with all four of ERA, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA above five, the 5.04 SIERA being the least bad), faces a similar issue.

Musgrove entered the year with good potential and still has enough for deeper leagues, but in most leagues you will want to find better at this point.

 

14+ Team Cut Candidates

Jay Bruce (1B, SEA)

If the reported trade between Seattle and Philadelphia happens, Bruce will go from being nearly an everyday player to...not an everyday player. The deal could still fall through, but it's not too early to move on from Bruce in most league sizes. Losing AB's would just make it even easier.

Bruce also has the issues of not being a completely full-time player already, and an atrocious batting average. He has started 44 of Seattle's 60 games through May 31. As a side note, those 60 games Seattle has played represent two more than any other team in MLB, so all of their players are going to have slightly inflated counting stats for projecting rest of season. (Although if Bruce changes teams, this will matter less in his specific case.) Either way, Bruce already isn't helping as much as he could.

As for the .212 batting average, Statcast finds it completely deserved, Bruce posting a ninth percentile and nearly-identical .211 xBA. Combined with the missing playing time, Bruce is treacherous even in deeper leagues. Additionally, there's the fact that much of Bruce's overall production is old. He had seven home runs by April 9, and only has seven since while hitting .222/.287/.487.

The trade rumors are a facilitating factor here. It can't hurt to get out ahead of the game.

Archie Bradley (RP, ARI)

Greg Holland has been wildly and unpredictably successful as the closer for Arizona. That second adverb has led to relatively common ownership of Archie Bradley as a handcuff. However, because Holland has seen success, and because Bradley's performance this year has not been closer-worthy, it's hard to justify rostering Bradley.

In fact, Bradley's potential as a reliever goes back to his 2017 debut in the role, when he posted a 1.73 ERA in 73 innings. His 3.19 SIERA that year was good but not quite as pristine. Last year, he pulled off just a 3.64 ERA but with a similar 3.22 SIERA. So far this season, however, he's at 4.44 and 4.26 in 24 1/3 innings. Bradley has managed 11.5 K/9, an improvement on his sub-10 rates in 2017 and '18, but Bradley's K% is only up a couple ticks, 25.8% this year after a 25.3% last year, because of all the base runners he's allowing with that 1.89 WHIP. He's running a .400 BABIP, but he's also walking almost twice as many batters, 13.3% of them this year after 6.8% last season.

Relievers who don't get saves should only be owned if they produce great ratios and strikeouts, even at this depth. Bradley hasn't done the former since 2017 and never been great (by relief standards) at the latter. If Holland does lose the job, and Bradley gets the gig, put in some FAAB (if your league uses that). But before then, there's no reason to have him around.

 

Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week This Week Reasoning
Odubel Herrera Cut in 12 Cut in 15 DV charge may end season
Howie Kendrick Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Playing time still issue
Jerad Eickhoff Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Last start was more of the same
Billy Hamilton Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Never going to change as a player
Mychal Givens Cut in 12 Cut in 15 Lost closer gig
Christian Walker Watch Out in 12 Hold in 12 Kevin Cron back to AAA already
Yonny Chirinos Watch Out in 12 Watch Out in 12 For same reasons as last week

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