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The Cut List: Week 10 - Time to Let Go?

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Welcome back to the Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who fantasy managers should consider cutting from their teams and struggling players who need a closer peek. 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.

Entering Week 10, this seems like a good chance to go back and review all "The Hot Seat" players we've featured since we started The Cut List in Week 3. We'll see whether those featured are still worth consideration as a drop, should have been dropped already or have turned things around and are fantasy-friendly players again. We'll still be including the most popular mentioned names from the Reddit thread so as always if there's anyone you specifically want to know whether to drop or hold who isn't included in the article, mention them on the Reddit thread and they might be featured the following week.

This isn't a "hard and fast" list of definite players to drop, but hopefully, it will act as a tool to help you with your roster decisions. I'm a strong advocate for not making knee-jerk reactions. A bad week or two in the middle of the season is easily hidden across a whole season. Most teams will have played 50 games by the time we start Week 10 so those small sample sizes are now pretty meaningful. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

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Worth Dropping and Replacing

Week 4 - Devin Williams - RP, Milwaukee Brewers - 56% rostered

Last year's Rookie of the Year is having a big downward year in 2021. As May draws to a close, Williams is sitting on a 4.42 ERA from his 20 appearances (18.1 IP) and a 1.36 WHIP. His numbers last year were phenomenal but it was easy to forget that Williams was coming into this year having only thrown 40.2 innings at the Major League level. He was never going to sustain last year's ludicrous 53% K% but he's still got an impressive 33.3% K% so far in 2021, which is 87th percentile.

Williams had a higher than average walk rate last year (9.9% BB%) but that's up in 2021 to 14.8% and he's giving up harder contact, all resulting in that elevated ERA. His expected ERA (xERA) is 4.52 and he's got a 23.1% HR/FB, despite not giving up a homer since April 24. His 29.3% flyball rate is more than double last year's (13.9%). Prior to giving up two earned runs on Thursday, Williams had a 2.35 ERA in May and he's got a 3.53 xFIP and 3.57 SIERA on the season, so I do expect his ERA to come down. Williams also has seven holds and picked up a win this year so he has given some value in leagues counting holds.

Verdict - Unless your league counts holds, Williams should be dropped. The strikeouts are nice but that ERA offsets any gains and there are other high strikeout relievers with a much better ERA than Williams. In leagues that score holds, Williams is still a viable option and can be kept as a handcuff to Josh Hader if your bench is deep enough.

Week 5 - Victor Robles - OF, Washington Nationals - 33% rostered

Back when I discussed Robles as a potential drop, I recall mentioning how he has a hardcore fanbase within the fantasy community, almost like a cult. No matter what he did, the Robles stans will believe he's a superstar ready to break out. After a disappointing start to the season, that looked farther from reality than ever. Entering the series against Arizona on May 14, Robles had a .216/.321/.258 slash line with no homers, two doubles, one triple and three steals on the year.

In the next six games, Robles hit .412/.500/.706 with five doubles. And then came the ankle sprain that saw Robles hit the IL. It doesn't appear to be serious and he could well return next week. If you've stashed him on your IL, then that's fine and you hope he picks up where he left off. I'm not very high on Robles still as his four steals on the year have come from seven attempts and most of his starts come at the No. 9 spot in the lineup, which further limits his counting stats. In the 91 games since the start of last year, Robles has a .230 average with three homers and eight steals. That's a far cry from his 2019 breakout which looks much more like an outlier.

Verdict - If you held Robles on your IL since his injury, then you should give him a week or two to see if he can continue where he left off. He's no better than a fifth outfielder in shallow fantasy leagues and can be dropped in those leagues if he's still struggling on his return or if you have a better option(s) for your IL.

Week 7 - German Marquez - SP, Colorado Rockies - 59% rostered

When I put Marquez on the Hot Seat, I said he's become a streaming-only option in shallower leagues. Since then, he's made four starts and put up a 2.16 ERA (25.0 IP) with a 27.5% K% and 9.8% BB%. Of those four starts, two were ones I'd have been comfortable starting Marquez in. The one I would've benched him was at home to the Reds in which he gave up four earned runs in six innings. In his last two starts, Marquez has allowed just one earned run over 13.0 IP while striking out 14 but they came against the Diamondbacks and the Mets.

His next start is likely to come against the Rangers next week which is another I'd be comfortable starting him. That being said, I'm still not comfortable calling him a must-start or someone who should be on 10-team league rosters. His xERA is 4.34 and his xwOBA and wOBA are both .328. All his expected stats are below average (xwOBA 40th percentile, xERA 40th percentile and xBA 34th percentile). If he can cut down the walks, that could go a big way towards making him more appealing in fantasy especially as he's allowed a homer in three of his last four starts. If he just gives up solo homers, that's manageable. But the homers haven't been the issue as shown by the two starts against the Giants in which he allowed 12 earned runs in 4.2 IP without allowing a homer.

Verdict - As you might expect, Marquez has significant home and road splits (4.91 home ERA and 3.74 road ERA). That still relegates him to a streamer-only option in shallow leagues. In deeper leagues, he can still be rostered and just started when the matchup is good.


Hold For Now

Week 3 - Chris Paddack - SP, San Diego Padres - 83% rostered

The Week 3 edition of The Cut List was the first of the season and Paddack featured on The Hot Seat after two rough starts to begin the year. Both outings lasted just 4.0 IP and he allowed a total of five earned runs on eight hits and four walks with six strikeouts. Obviously, it was far too early to consider dropping him but his struggles remained in the following weeks. Paddack entered May with a 1-3 record, a 5.40 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 23.1 IP. He missed a start to begin May after being placed on the IL due to a "medical condition" but since his return, Paddack has been much better.

Over his last four starts, Paddack sports a 1.42 ERA (19.0 IP) with 14 strikeouts. His first two starts only lasted three then four innings but in his two outings since, he's got through six innings in both. While his 3.65 ERA on the season is impressive, there is still some caution to be had. His xERA is 3.92, his xFIP is 4.11 and his SIERA is 4.20. Paddack has a 20.6% K% which is a career-low and his 6.3% BB% is a career-high (albeit still in the 75th percentile). I'm not suggesting you drop Paddack but I expect regression (his xFIP in his four May starts is 4.64) so it might be a good time to try and sell high in redraft leagues.

Week 6 - Cavan Biggio - 2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays - 74% rostered

Biggio is likely percolating on fantasy injured lists right now after suffering a 'cervical spine ligament sprain.' That's a new one to me but sounds painful. Apparently, in simple terms, it's a neck sprain and something which has been bothering Biggio for a while. The Blue Jays expect Biggio to only miss the minimum of 10 days which will see him return early next week. If that injury has been nagging him for a while, it would go some way to explaining his .205/.315/.315 line on the year (three homers and two steals).

It's difficult to analyze how much of the neck issue has impacted Biggio but given his career numbers before this season was 24 homers and 20 steals in 159 games with a .240 average, his numbers this year are considerably worse. I'm prepared to give Biggio the benefit of doubt and put some blame on the injury. If you have stashed Biggio, I'd certainly be looking to give him another 2-3 weeks following his return to see if he is fully healthy and can get back to being a potential 20/20 player.

Week 8 - Luis Castillo - SP, Cincinnati Reds - 82% rostered

As strange as it may sound, I took some encouragement from Castillo's first start after being on The Hot Seat. He only went 5.0 IP and gave up three earned runs, but struck out a season-high 11 batters against the Giants. My biggest concern with Castillo prior to that outing was his paltry 16.3% K%. With 16 strikeouts over ten innings in his last two outings, my biggest concern is now his 7.61 ERA. The last two starts also saw Castillo walk seven batters so the strikeouts appear to have come at a price.

Too often this year, Castillo got into two-strike counts but couldn't put batters away. He's had 44 batters in an 0-2 count so far this year, and they're hitting .295/.295/.455 from that count. From 1-2 counts, he's been marginally better with a .234/.272/.377 line against him. Although his underlying numbers aren't great, they do show Castillo has been unlucky this year. They'd still be career lows and won't be worthy of his ADP, but his 4.43 xERA, 4.04 xFIP and 4.33 SIERA do offer hope that his ERA starts to come down. If he can maintain the strikeouts from his last two starts and gets a bit more luck (he has a .382 BABIP), Castillo should be much better moving forward. You aren't going to get second or third round value from him this year, but he still should be a fantasy viable starter the rest of the way.

That all being said, I'm still keeping a very close eye on him over his next few starts.


On the Hot Seat

Week 9 - Matt Chapman - 3B, Oakland Athletics - 87% rostered

Back-to-back weeks on The Hot Seat show how Chapman has been a huge disappointment in 2021. His .214/.322/.358 slash line on the year is a far cry from his career .255/.336/.503 line entering this season. Prior to 2021, Chapman had hit 84 homers in 422 games (which is one homer every 5.02 games). This year, he's homered five times in 52 games (a homer every 10.4 games). He does have a career-high 13.9% BB% but he was drafted in fantasy for his power and counting stats. So far, he's only scored 19 runs and driven in 21. Across 162 games, he's on track for 60 runs, 67 runs and 16 homers.

I've alluded to this numerous times, but Chapman did undergo hip surgery in the offseason and there's a very real possibility that he's experiencing the lingering effects of that. A quick comparison of his April and May numbers will show us that his batting average has improved but he's hitting for less power in May. If he was slow to recover from his hip surgery, I'd expect that to be the other way around.

April 4 .189 .306 .389 .694 .200 34.3% 13.9%
May 1 .241 .340 .325 .665 .084 28.0% 14.0%

All of Chapman's hard-hit metrics are down this year and his expected stats actually paint a picture of someone who can't be considered unlucky. His xBA is .196 (actual is .214), xSLG is .351 (actual is .358) and and xwOBA is .294 (actual is .300). Interestingly, Chapman has a career-high 34.2% flyball rate, yet that hasn't equated to home runs. Interestingly, a look at his spray chart suggests it should.

All in all, I think Chapman is experiencing some lingering effects from his hip surgery, but that's something we likely won't find out about until the end of the season. And I also feel like the new baseball is draining away a little bit of power. Maybe the early season cold weather has played a role, but that's less likely given Oakland's schedule so far. I'm finding it more and more difficult to preach patience with Chapman but given his track record, I will maintain it's still too early to drop him unless injuries have taken their toll on your team and you need the roster space for someone else. If we're still looking at the same issues in late June, I think it could be time to walk away from Chapman.


The Reddit Requests

As always, here are the most commonly mentioned players from last week's Reddit thread.

Francisco Lindor - SS, New York Mets - 98% rostered

A first-round draft pick hitting .185 with three homers and four steals isn't ideal. Nor is playing on a team with a glut of injuries, limiting your chances to score and drive in runs due to the remaining lineup being suboptimal. I fully understand why you'd want to drop Lindor, but his 162-game average before this season was 29 homers, 21 steals, 106 runs and 86 RBI with a .285/.346/.488 slash line. Maybe being on a new team, in a new city, with new surroundings is taking its toll but I'm not willing to advocate anyone dropping Lindor yet.

Jorge Soler - OF, Kansas City Royals - 59% rostered

Earlier this week, fellow RotoBaller writer @EazyMath posed the question "what's up with Soler?" The reason being is his underlying numbers are all good and they suggest he should be having the same sort of production as normal. And I agree. I can't find anything tangible as to why he's struggled so bad this season to the tune of a .179 batting average and just four homers in 49 games. Here's what I did know and replied with: "More flyballs, fewer line drives. Deadened ball, cold n damp weather turning flyballs into more outs." If that is the case, the weather warming up will help but the baseball will remain the same. Given his expected stats are so much better than his expected stats, I'm prepared to hold Soler for a little longer in deeper leagues in the hope his struggles aren't predominantly due to the new ball.

Mike Yastrzemski - OF, San Francisco Giants - 83% rostered

My fears that the oblique injury that saw Yastrzemski miss time earlier this season were justified but are starting to dissipate. In his last 17 games, he's hitting .238/.360/.476 (with two homers) and entered Friday night's game on a five-game hitting streak in which he's put together a .286/.318/.429 line. He also hit three doubles during this run. Yastrzemski went 0-for-2 on Friday but did walk twice and scored two runs. Yastrzemski's numbers so far this year extrapolated across 162 games would be 24 homers, 95 runs, 55 RBI and four steals. Given he entered May with a .215/.303/.468 line, the fact he's now hitting .218/.327/.456 does offer some hope he's starting to turn things around and can improve on the numbers he's put up so far. He's certainly trending that way.

Max Kepler - OF, Minnesota Twins - 55% rostered

Two weeks ago, when asked about Kepler, I was quick to point out he had five stolen bases and was on course for potentially getting 20 this year. Considering his career-high is six in a season, that would somewhat offset the struggles he's had at the plate. Here we are a fortnight later, and he's still on five steals. He's got a 100% success rate in stolen base attempts so there's no reason why he'd be stopped from running more. The good news is, since his last stolen base, Kepler is hitting .239/.345/.565 and has three homers. In his last six games, he's hit third or first in the order and that has led to five runs scored and six RBI. While he might not reach double-figure steals, Kepler does appear to have turned the corner and getting back to being the player he was drafted as.

Kepler didn't play on Friday night and news emerged that he's got a lingering hamstring issue. That could help explain why he's not attempted a stolen base in over two weeks. The Twins are hopeful he can avoid the IL but it's something to monitor over the weekend.

Eugenio Suarez - 3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds - 88% rostered

What should a team do with a struggling hitter who has a .148/.228/.343 through 44 games to start the year? Well, you move them to the leadoff spot of course. That's exactly what the Reds did this week and the early signs are that it's a genius move. Three games is an incredibly small sample size of course, but Suarez has gone 4-for-12 with two homers and a walk, scoring four runs and tallying two RBI as the leadoff hitter. I was desperate to keep faith with Suarez but was reaching the point whereby I'd be perfectly accepting of dropping him in any league. But if he has finally got things going (and last year it took him time to warm up), then fantasy managers' patience with him will finally start paying off. He's not out of the woods just yet, but he's providing us some hope to cling on to.

Suarez didn't start the game on Friday but did come in to pinch-hit in the sixth inning, and struck out.

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