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The Cut List (Week 13) - Time to Let Go?

At this point in the season, nearly half over, you should pretty much know what you have on your fantasy team. (Unless you have Jose Ramirez.) Chances are, if you still have a certain frustrating player on your roster -- especially one you drafted -- you've had plenty of chances to remove them but have decided to stay the course each time. (For instance, Jose Ramirez.) A lot of cuts should be just the usual roster churn at this point, for example moving from one streamer SP to the next. (For instance, do not cut Jose Ramirez.)

There are two things someone tasked with telling you whom to cut can do with this. Either continue as usual one week to the next; after all, nothing changes that dramatically week-to-week (it's the months that get you). Or pick a week to make dramatic adjustments to the structure of the advice. An example of a possibility there would include breaking cuts down by category needs instead of league size. For now, let's go with option one, but keep in mind league and standings specifics that can't possibly be comprehensively covered in a column. Cuts are always subjective...unless it's post-busted Frankie Montas in a redraft league.

Stats are through Friday, June 21. Weekly reminders: Recommendations are for mixed leagues. 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. As usual, you can find ideas on how to replace your cut candidates at the Waiver Wire Pickup List.

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10-Team Cut Candidates

Yadier Molina (C, STL)

Cut Endorsement:Weak
Easiest to cut in: one-catcher; leagues where streaming is an option

Are there ten better catchers than Yadier Molina, who is only hitting .261/.291/.383 and turns 37 in three weeks? Maybe, maybe not. There are, probably, at least eight: J.T. Realmuto, Gary Sanchez, Willson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Buster Posey, Robinson Chirinos, and Omar Narvaez. Mitch Garver, if not for intra-team competition from Jason Castro and (again) Willians Astudillo, would be a ninth. Then, for this kind of sad but completely hypothetical "crown" of tenth-best fantasy catcher, candidates would include James McCann, Josh Phegley, even perhaps Francisco Mejia at this point if his latest minor league stint truly turned things around, and Castro and Astudillo and Kurt Suzuki if they played more regularly.

While Molina is right on the cusp in 10-teamers, he's certainly not a must-have at this point. His spot can be streamed, if you have the energy for that. If not, he does come closer than most if not all catchers to being an everyday player, which can be useful for counting stats. He should also stay owned in two-catcher formats.

Ryan Braun (OF, MIL)

Cut Endorsement: Weak
Easiest to cut in: points; leagues you need upside

Braun's decline was sudden from 2016 to '17, but since then it's continued gradually: his season wRC+ since 2016 have been 134, 110, 105, and 97 so far this season. He's still a dual threat in the middle of a potent lineup, which makes it hard to cut him in leagues much deeper than 10. Taking an admittedly arbitrary cutoff of May 15, however, and he's given managers just a .268/.322/.393 line despite a .329 BABIP, with three home runs and just one steal in two attempts over 30 games. Over the full season, his strikeouts are up and his walks are down from both 2018 and career norms.

Braun is not struggling as badly as teammates Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw have this season, but that's why they're clear cuts in far more leagues than Braun is just a cut candidate in. And while he's close to an everyday player, he's also getting regular time off, including both the 21st and 22nd. In that post-May 15 stretch he's started 26 of 33 games. As with our next player, there's also the question of where your risk tolerance is: if you need a higher-reward, higher-risk option, Braun is a sensible player to exchange out.

Madison Bumgarner (SP, SF)

Cut Endorsement: Weak
Easiest to cut in: Leagues you need to chase upside

Bumgarner is 3-7 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. If/when he's traded, the W-L should get better because the Giants are bad, but the ratios should get worse because AT&T Park is a pitcher's haven (despite the occasional Max Muncy bomb into the sea). His ERA estimators think he deserves an ERA in the 4.10-4.20 range instead of closer to 4.30, but that's not a very significant difference, or enough of one at the 10-team level.

Bumgarner won't do much worse than a 4.30 ERA either, again unless perhaps he's traded. If the rest of your pitching is humming along with Bumgarner as nothing more than an innings-eater, you can get by with running him out there. If you're not only expecting a return of the 2013-16 Bumgarner, however, but also need that version to come back, he may not be the right tree to bark up.


12-Team Cut Candidates

Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET)

Cut Endorsement: Strong

Here's one of those cases for which the intro is relevant: what would drive a fantasy team still featuring Cabrera on its roster to cut loose now? He hit .282/.359/.359 in March/April and .286/.353/.352 in May, quite consistent but not quite good. And he's hit .340/.347/.532 so far in June. That's come with zero walks and 13 strikeouts in 49 PA, however, for a .424 BABIP, so the March-to-May version of Cabrera was much more accurate.

A big reason Cabrera can go is the Tigers offense being quite bad. Despite a .295 batting average and .354 OBP overall, Cabrera only has 30 RBI and a pittance of runs scored, 17, in 67 games. And so he's a one category player right now, and actually zero categories in OPS leagues. Miguel hasn't been "Miggy" since 2016 and it's too much to expect that to come back (cases like Hunter Pence are minor miracles). Even with the success in 2018, this season could still be demonstrating the effects of that bicep injury. We're playing the odds in fantasy baseball, and Cabrera's not a great bet at his age. The cruddy team is just the kicker.

Franmil Reyes (OF, SD)

Cut Endorsement: Weak
Easiest to cut in: redraft; BA/OBP; if you have plenty of HR elsewhere

What has happened to Reyes' playing time? In that ridiculous 92-run Padres-Rockies series from June 13-16, he disappointingly sat the final three games, and he's also sat on the 18th and 22nd with an off day on the 20th. The only peep from the team about a possible injury was a quick mention of a "stiff neck" on Saturday the 15th, which by now doesn't seem like the cause of sitting on June 22. It's true as well that Reyes had entered a mini-rut, now hitting .237/.318/.316 since June 5 despite home run #20 on June 19.

Twenty is a lot of home runs, and typically a bad two weeks is not a very good reason to cut someone with 20 home runs. But, as usual, something else is at play, and in this case it's a particularly suspicious lack of playing time. Is Reyes still battling some discomfort? If so, why would they not give him 10 days of rest on the IL and open up a roster spot for someone a little more helpful at the moment? Josh Naylor (.229/.260/.357) hasn't shown anything yet despite having the platoon advantage in 61 of his 73 career plate appearances so far.

Reyes could hit 40 home runs for several years to come, so in some keeper formats he's a hold. In standard redrafts that use BA or even OBP, consider someone more helpful for now, unless maybe you desperately need home runs and are willing to take the increased off days to hopefully get more than can be found on the wire.

Mike Fiers (SP, OAK)

Cut Endorsement: Strong

Fiers' bottom line since a tough March/April (7.03 ERA/1.53 WHIP) has looked good (2.87/0.85 in May and 2.89/0.96 in his first three starts in June). But his start Saturday is a microcosm of the luck Fiers has needed to get here. He allowed just one run in six innings only two strikeouts against three walks. The Rays had just a .211 BABIP and not one of their 10 fly balls and line drives left the park for a home run. Ji-Man Choi hit a ball 104.3 but got a little underneath it at 45 degrees; Brandon Lowe hit one 100.9 at 14 degrees and mustered just a single. Of course, it's not one game but several that make Fiers a cut.

And so this is what a mirage looks like: Fiers actually had a better xFIP in March/April (5.40) than he did in May (5.54). He's hanging around the five mark in June as well. That's not someone who got better, it's someone who got luckier. Fiers' profile has the "advantage" of that really cruddy start to the season, so you've already seen what it looks like when he's not getting so lucky, and it's quite ugly. If you picked him up on the wire some time the past several weeks, take what you got and get out.


14+ Team Cut Candidates

Josh Reddick (OF, HOU)

Cut Endorsement: Strong

George Springer isn't back yet, but he will be soon, and Reddick is already no longer an everyday player, having been held out of the line up twice in the past week. His bat has slowed down substantially in the past month or so as well, with a .220/.229/.385 slash line since May 26. That's in part due to a rotten .195 BABIP as he's only struck out eight times in 96 PA during that stretch.

With luck like that, there could be hope for a turnaround soon, and Reddick played quite often even while Springer was healthy. For one thing, Yordan Alvarez wasn't up then. But for another, even if Reddick doesn't stop playing completely, he'll certainly play less while struggling, which will cut into his opportunities to see better results. He's not someone really to wait around for, and a home run Saturday doesn't particularly change that.

Tim Beckham (SS, SEA)

Cut Endorsement: Strong

What a fall from Beckham, who was a 12-team cut in Week 7. By now he's also hit himself out of deeper leagues. Back then he was hitting .257/.316/.486; now, .231/.285/.462, which means in the meantime he has hit .181/.224/.417. His playing time has also taken a hit, as he started no games and only pinch hit once from June 16-19 without any rumored or announced injuries or other time away to speak of.

Unfortunately, it's a pretty simple case here. If you're looking for the 2017 or March 2019 version of Beckham, there is no evidence that it is coming.

Mike Leake (SP, SEA)

Cut Endorsement: Strong

Seven runs and eleven base runners against the Orioles is always a sign that a pitcher cannot be trusted no matter the opponent. Leake's got one of the most worrisome characteristics for pitchers: little strikeout ability in today's whiff-happy world. In Leake's case, it's made all the worse by the fact that the Mariners have by far MLB's worst defense sabermetrically. There's a 4.62 SIERA here but that could understate the risk given such a terrible defense behind him.

Seattle's offense has done well so far, but it figures to get worse from here on out, with the trades of Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion (the regression of Beckham is also a tiny piece here). Even though Leake somehow got a win for his disastrous performance against Baltimore, expect fewer of those going forward.


Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week This Week Reasoning
Yasiel Puig Cut in 10, esp. points Hold in 10 If you held through last week, hard to drop after the week he just had
Joc Pederson Cut in 10, esp. weekly changes Same No change in profile, still sitting regularly
Zach Davies Cut in 10 Cut in 12 The regression is coming; you saw it in the 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER game that just happened
Amed Rosario Cut in 12 Cut in 12 No change in profile; hot week courtesy of .545 BABIP
Rougned Odor Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Complete power sellout with 2-for-23, both solo shots, in previous week; no change in profile
Pedro Strop Cut in 12, esp. w/Kimbrel Cut in 12 Another blowup June 18 can't arguably be blamed on past injury
Jesus Aguilar Cut in 14+ Cut in 14+ There's really nothing to wait for here, he's still barely playing and barely hitting
Ross Stripling Cut in 14+ Cut in 10 He may start, he may not, he may not do well if he starts
Blake Parker Cut in 14+ Cut in 14+ No change in profile

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