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The Cut List - Time to Let Go? Week 12

Welcome back to the Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who fantasy managers could consider 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. The last three weeks have seen us cover injured players and review previous hot seat occupants in special editions. Today, we are back to your regularly scheduled Cut List.

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 or give me a shout on Twitter (@Baseball_Jimbo) 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 shouldn't be a reason to push the panic button and dump someone for a random player who is on the only hot streak he'll ever have in his career. All teams have now played at least 60 games so we have decent sample sizes on most players to base our decisions on. 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

Jarred Kelenic - OF, Seattle Mariners - 43% rostered

Kelenic was sent down to Triple-A earlier this week, following an 0-for-39 stretch that took his slash line down to .096/.183/.195. Prior to that horrid run, Kelenic had a .240 batting average with two homers and three steals in his first 12 games (11 starts) and spent his time with the Mariners as the leadoff hitter. Despite many stating Kelenic was MLB ready prior to the season beginning, this should be a reminder that even an elite prospect can struggle at the top level early in their career. Especially one who hadn't even played in Triple-A before this year.

So where does that leave us now? Well, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has said this presents an opportunity for Kelenic to "find himself" and they certainly don't seem like they've given up hope of a return sooner rather than later. Kelenic himself has called it a "blessing in disguise" and is already working on things to help him when he's back in the Majors. The Mariners could opt to protect him and keep him down until the All-Star Break as a quick return followed by more struggles could do serious damage to the confidence of a 21-year-old player. There's no doubting his potential and I have no doubt he will display his full talent at the MLB level at some point this season. It's just a matter of when that will be.

Verdict - If you have some sort of Minor League slot, stash him. And of course, you're holding him in dynasty leagues. If you're in shallower leagues without that ability, you can drop him as I'm not convinced he'll be back before late July. In deeper leagues, he could still be a league winner in the last two months if you can hold him. But don't sacrifice a need now in case he stays in Triple-A for an extended period. 

 

Nate Lowe - 1B, Texas Rangers - 52% rostered

Lowe got off to a solid start to the year and entered May with a .277/.360/.485 slash line while hitting six homers, two steals, 11 runs and 22 RBI. Sadly, since May 1, Lowe has only hit .205/.322/.283 with two homers, two steals, 17 runs and 10 RBI. In June, Lowe is 4-for-28 without an extra-base hit and not only has he slipped down the batting order from the no. 3 spot to predominantly hitting sixth, he is also in danger of losing playing time to a combination of Charlie Culberson, Brock Holt and Eli White.

While it hasn't quite come to that and Lowe's splits aren't egregious enough to platoon him, (.253/.336/.326 versus LHP and .226/.340/.406 versus RHP), the thought of sitting for any of those three players doesn't really help his value. The Rangers DFA'd Khris Davis and recalled White who figures to feature in the infield and outfield, while Holt has been a regular at third base but he or Culberson can spot Lowe time at first base. The Rangers entered Saturday ranked 25th in runs scored with 247 so even if Lowe can pick up his form, the lack of runs and RBI potential harms his fantasy value too. Last night's 12 run outburst was just the second time since opening day that the Rangers had scored double-digit runs in a game.

*Lowe hit a double and a homer in a 3-for-5 game last night against the Dodgers. The double came off of David Price and the homer came in the ninth inning off of Nate Jones (5.68 ERA) as the Dodgers then turned to infielder Andy Burns to end the inning. They were his first extra-base hits since May 26.

Verdict - While Lowe's expected stats are better than his actual numbers, in shallow leagues he can be dropped as a corner infielder given the lack of counting stats the Rangers will also provide. In deeper leagues, he's still rosterable but will need to turn things around soon to remain that way.

 

Matt Chapman - 3B, Oakland Athletics - 79% rostered

Regular readers of The Cut List will know I rarely recommend dropping players, especially those drafted as high as Chapman was (ADP of ~114), but I'm on board with doing so when it comes to the A's third baseman. He's been featured on the Hot Seat before, just three weeks ago when he had a .214/.317/.371 line. Back then, I said "if he can start to turn his improving batting average into more power moving forward, Chapman will more than likely end the year with numbers similar to his preseason projections."

Unfortunately, since I wrote that, Chapman has hit .204/.313/.241 and prior to last night, was without a home run since May 5. On Friday night, he did hit two doubles, his first extra-base hits since May 18. Back then, he also hit two doubles in a game and looked like he was turning the corner with a 5-for-9 spell over two games. He then went hitless over his next five games so I'm not holding on to much hope that his 6-for-9 spell over the last two games will be the beginning of something good. His expected batting average (xBA) of .198 is in the second percentile and his xwOBA of .291 is near identical to his actual wOBA of .292 so nothing suggests he's been unlucky or things will tack a turn for the better.

*Looks like hitters are coming to life as soon as I feature them here. Like Lowe, Chapman also homered and doubled last night in a 3-for-5 game. The double came off of Jackson Kowar (36.00 ERA) and the homer came off of Carlos Hernandez (8.00 ERA) so neither pitcher is exactly unhittable. What was interesting is Chapman hit second in the lineup last night so if that sticks, at least there's more chance for counting stats even if his struggles continue.

Verdict - I still think Chapman is being hampered by his offseason hip surgery, but that isn't going to suddenly improve and this looks like it'll be a season-long struggle. His defense will keep him in the lineup which makes it harder to cut ties with him in fantasy. You will have likely drafted him as your third baseman so he may be more difficult to replace. In all but deep leagues, there's likely a better option on waivers right now.

 

Hold For Now

Alex Kirilloff - 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins - 36% rostered

Unlike the more highly regarded rookie Kelenic, Kirilloff has been having a solid rookie season. He's got a .254/.294/.424 slash line on the season with four homers. The Twins' struggles have contributed to limiting Kirilloff to 14 runs and 18 RBI. Those have come from just 33 games after he started the season in the Minor Leagues and he's spent time on the IL this year. Despite that, he's still sixth in RBI for the Twins.

Some fantasy managers were expecting a 30+ homer season from Kirilloff which was optimistic at best given his rookie status. When he hit four homers in three games to start May, those expectations looked more feasible, but he's not homered since that spell. He did hit the IL two days after that barrage which wouldn't have helped but he has put up a .285/333/.350 line since his return on May 21. Kiriloff's xBA is .312 and his xSLG is .603, offering hope that he's about to really come to life offensively. He's certainly not someone I'd be considering dropping.

David Peralta - OF, Arizona Diamondbacks - 39% rostered

Peralta is having a down year with his .252 batting average barely better than his worst in any season (.251 in 2016) and his .417 slugging percentage is a career-low. After hitting 30 homers in 2018 with a .293 batting average, he played 99 games in 2019 and hit 12 homers with a .275 average. Since the start of last year, Peralta has now hit just nine homers in his last 114 games, raising questions over the legitimacy of that 2018 power breakout.

Despite the lack of home runs, Peralta had a .300 average last year so was still a valuable outfielder in fantasy. With that now dropping to a league-average mark, his value is waning. But the Diamondbacks offense has been decent and their 275 runs scored is 16th in MLB. Peralta's 32 RBI is tied-18th most among all outfielders in MLB and his 26 runs scored ranks tied-36th. Those counting stats are still providing enough value to warrant keeping Peralta on your rosters and his name is one prominently mentioned among trade candidates for contending teams. That alone is worth holding on hope for should he find himself in an even better situation for the second half of the season.

Alex Wood - SP/RP, San Francisco Giants - 67% rostered

Wood currently has a 5-3 record, 3.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP from 10 starts so I was a little surprised that some people have asked whether they should drop him for another pitcher. But those concerns are borne from his last three starts in which Wood has allowed 15 earned runs in 15.0 IP (15 hits, seven walks and 12 strikeouts). A closer look at his underlying numbers does offer reassurance that this isn't just a reversal in good fortunes and Wood has actually been worthy of his ERA.

Wood has a 3.58 xFIP and 3.79 SIERA so his ERA is pretty much where it should be. His 7.8% BB% is in the 67th percentile and his 23.5% K% is in the 45th percentile. Of the 111 pitchers with at least 50.0 IP this year, his ERA ranks 57th. Health issues have blighted Wood for a number of years and he entered 2021 having pitched just 48.1 IP in the previous two years combined. He's averaged just 82 innings over the previous five years but as long as he's healthy, Wood is still worthy of rostering in all leagues, even if you sit him in the toughest matchups. He's an SP5/6 in shallower leagues which doesn't warrant dropping him. If you are worried about his health maintaining, you might still be able to trade him away especially if he puts up good numbers next time out (likely to be against the Diamondbacks).

 

On the Hot Seat

DJ LeMahieu - 1B/2B/3B, New York Yankees - 97% rostered

LeMahieu is certainly having a down year. In his two previous seasons with the Yankees, he hit 36 homers in 195 games with a .336/.386/.536 slash line. He also chipped in with eight steals while driving in 129 runs and scoring 150 runs as the Yankees leadoff hitter. In 2021, LeMahieu is hitting .257/.332/.340 with just four homers in 60 games. In last night's contest, LeMahieu went 2-for-5 with a clutch three-run homer in the ninth to tie the game before the Phillies walked it off in the tenth.

Despite the Yankees' well-documented struggles offensively (ranking 26th in runs scored with 252), LeMahieu has still scored a respectable 34 runs himself. Of all second-base eligible players, he ranks 15th in that category. ESPN's player rater ranks LeMahieu 30th among second base eligible players which is also a far cry from his ADP of ~27. While a look at LeMahieu's underlying numbers won't provide a reason to believe he'll be a top-20 hitter in fantasy this year, they do show us he's more than worthy of rostering in fantasy still.

His xBA is .273. When he hit .364 last year, his xBA was .308 so the luck he had last year has eluded him this year. His .389 xSLG is a far cry from his actual slugging percentage the last two years but still better than his current .340 mark. While his 17.3% K% is up from his career 14.9% number, it's still in the 77th percentile of MLB this year. He's walking more this year too with a 10.2% BB%, better than his 7.5% career BB%. LeMahieu's hard-hit rate and average exit velocity are down but still rank in the 63rd and 62nd percentile respectively.

LeMahieu's underlying numbers so that he has been a slightly better-than-league-average hitter this year. That's not what you drafted him to be of course, but he's still been better than many players sitting on your waiver wire. I wouldn't bet against a hitter with a career .302 batting average to turn things around and even if the new ball is having a negative impact on his power numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if he still ends the year with ~18 homers, a .280 batting average and ranks in the top-10 of second baseman in runs scored. Again, not what you drafted him to be but still someone I'm not dropping, especially in deeper leagues where his positional flexibility really helps.

 

The Reddit Requests

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

Anthony Santander - OF, Baltimore Orioles - 53% rostered

Santander was a mid-late round, power upside outfielder (ADP ~161) who had hit 31 homers in his previous 130 games over the 2019-20 seasons. This year has been a struggle, in large part due to a sprained ankle which sent him to the IL and has limited him to just 36 games so far. That IL stint cost him a month of his season but since his return on May 21, Santander has two homers and ten doubles and has raised his line to .259/.290/.430. He's hit exclusively in the no.2, 3 and 4 spots of the lineup this year which had helped him to 14 runs and 16 RBI. Providing he remains healthy, Santander should still be a useful fourth or fifth outfielder for your fantasy teams.

Michael Pineda - SP, Minnesota Twins - 61% rostered

When asked about Pineda recently, I mentioned that regression is coming but rather than cutting him, he's someone you could still "sell high" on. The reason was he entered June with a 2.62 ERA from eight starts, a 3-2 record and a 26.7% K%. His two starts in June have helped in closing that "sell window" as Pineda has allowed seven runs in 7.1 IP on 11 hits, two walks and just three strikeouts. His ERA now sits at 3.46 while his xERA (4.62), xFIP (4.12) and SIERA (4.01) all suggest that the regression will continue. Pineda is scheduled to face the Astros on Sunday and another rough start likely closes the door on being able to trade him away for a decent return and would likely relegate him to being a streaming option only.

Yermin Mercedes - Util, Chicago White Sox - 69% rostered

Mercedes became a household name after he started his MLB career by going 8-for-8. His name was on everyone's lips again after annoying Tony La Russa by taking Willians Astudillo deep in a blowout on May 17. At that time, Mercedes had a .364/.410/.574 line and that was his sixth homer in 36 games. Since being admonished by his manager, Mercedes is hitting .160/.247/.213 with just one homer in 22 games. Following a 2-for-6 game last night, Mercedes has a .290 average on the year. Given his career Minor League line was .302/.366/.491 with 83 homers in 617 games before his callup, I see no reason why Mercedes' numbers will continue to nosedive and I'm sure he'll right the ship soon. He's 5-for-18 over his last four games so is turning things around this week. In leagues where he's catcher eligible, you're definitely holding him. In Yahoo leagues where he can only play in the utility spot, I wouldn't consider dropping him just yet but he certainly has a shorter leash.

Joey Gallo - 1B/OF, Texas Rangers - 79% rostered

Gallo is currently hitting .214/.375/.403. He's hit 11 homers in 61 games with 34 runs, 28 RBI and five steals. Over a 162-game pace, that's 29 homers, 90 runs, 74 RBI and 13 steals. Prior to this season, Gallo's career line was .208/.327/.499 and he had a 162-game average of 41 homers, 90 runs, 90 RBI and seven steals. So all we're missing this year from his career numbers are around ten homers and 15 RBI but we fo have six more steals to offset that. Given the Rangers were projected to be a poor offensive team, the counting stats would likely suffer and the drop in home runs could be related to Texas' new ballpark and/or the 2021 baseballs. Gallo has three homers in his last ten games so is finding his power stroke it seems too. If you drafted Gallo expecting something different, then you were likely doing your draft wrong. Sans some homers, he's basically doing exactly what his career numbers would project him to do. If you're thinking of dropping him, you probably shouldn't have drafted him in the first place.

Gleyber Torres - 2B/SS, New York Yankees 94% rostered

Torres got off to a dreadful start to the season but is now sporting a .272/.351/.356 line. The power clearly hasn't been there (as evidenced by his three homers) but he has chipped in with four steals, 22 runs and 23 RBI. Since April 27, Torres has a .321 batting average and his three home runs have all come since May 9. It was clear that to start the year, Torres was selling out for power, without any success but has since changed his approach and is much happier to drive the ball the other way. Torres wasn't drafted in fantasy to be an opposite-field single and double hitter. The expectation was he'd be nearer the 38 homer hitter he was in 2019. While that won't be happening, he's still capable of hitting 15 homers the rest of this season and is putting up a good average with solid counting stats hitting in the heart of the Yankees lineup. A middle infielder with 18 homers, 80 runs, 80 RBI, 10 steals and a .280 average is still a fantasy asset and that's about what we'll likely have from Torres at the end of the year.



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Disappointment is unfortunately a large part of fantasy football. Despite the best research and intentions, we are all wrong on many players after the draft season is over and the cleats are laced up for real games. Consider Austin Ekeler in 2023. He was drafted fifth overall in most formats, but finished the year as... Read More


MIles Garrett - Fantasy Football Defense Rankings, D/ST Streamers, Waiver Wire, IDP Pickups

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