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The Cut List (Week 15) - Time to Let Go?


The All-Star Break will be here after today's games. For players who won't participate in the game on Tuesday, it's a chance to take a break from the grind for several days. And several players could use one, like perhaps the cut suggestions below.

Despite the days off, there's nothing really about the break that should set a player alight and redeem a terrible first half-plus of the season. Some players have second-half reputations, but monthly splits aren't terribly predictive, plus the second half tends to be warmer, which causes everyone's numbers to rise somewhat. So it's still best to look at recent trends or overall season numbers.

Stats are through Friday, July 5. 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.

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

Lorenzo Cain (OF, MIL)

Cain is 33 and it's not crazy to think he's slowing down. His 10 steals in 81 games are a concerning pace, and he's running at a 71.4% success rate this year (10/14) after an 81.1% (30/37) last season.

Even more worrying may be his BABIP. Cain has a career .341 BABIP and the worst mark of his career in the category was .309 in 2013. This year, he's hitting .294 on balls in play. That could be bad luck, or he may not be getting down the line as quick. He posted a 54.6% ground ball rate last season and maintained a .357 BABIP, and he's hitting almost as many grounders this year at a 53.0% rate. Indeed, on just ground balls Cain has a .288 career BABIP but only .224 this season.

The point isn't necessarily the statistical effect that has had on his overall batting average to date. A Cain rebound is possible, but the aging signs are worrying for shallow leagues.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR)

The criticisms of this idea are already audible: A stretch. Maybe trade, but don't cut. And if you're gonna go crazy, surely only do it in redraft only. All correct! But Guerrero deserves a little bit of devil's advocacy. If he had a different last name and/or no minor league hype, he would not likely be rostered in 10-team leagues.

Guerrero now has 246 MLB plate appearances, which is not a lot but already more than the 162 plate appearances he got at Triple-A. His minor league dominance justifiably fuels the hype, and perhaps, more importantly, the projection systems. But in the larger MLB sample, he is currently a .243/.325/.408 hitter. (Yes, there's also the plate appearances before Triple-A.)

That's still pretty good for a 20-year-old in the Majors. But Guerrero will still be 20 years old at season's end. The excitement for 2020 and beyond is real, but there's an argument to be made that better rest-of-2019 hitters may be out there on the wire in shallower leagues. (That said, there's too much upside here, even in redraft. But it's worth asking what exactly what you're getting from Guerrero this season. It's not been much so far, especially on a struggling Blue Jays team, which has led to just 54 R+RBI in 59 games.)

Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

Deeper than ten teams, Flaherty can be looked at as a back-end starter in the second half. He should be doing somewhat better than his 4.90 ERA, given the 4.04 xFIP and 4.12 SIERA. Projection systems have him in the high 3's and low 4's going forward. He's remained a solid strikeout pitcher with a 26.4% rate.

In the shallower pools, however, even if a more solid version of Flaherty arrives, it could still hurt the bottom line ratios. Last year's successful campaign was driven in part by a .257 BABIP, and this year he's still only at .288. It would be easier to look past his 2019 production to date with a severe BABIP, but he's still slightly below the standard .300 mark.

Ultimately, in ten-team redraft leagues, a Flaherty cut at this point is reasonable.

 

12-Team Cut Candidates

Adam Eaton (OF, WAS)

Eaton has a decent power/speed combination, but it's never led to more than 32 combined home runs and steals (14 and 18 in 2015). He can counteract that atop a good lineup for run production and with his .286 career batting average, .363 on-base percentage (.290 and .368 since 2014), and health. And he's had close to all three of those things this season -- hitting in front of Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto; a .278 average and .365 OBP; and appearing in 83 of 87 games. So why cut?

It's the combination of everything, really. In the HR+SB department, he's going to be closer to 10 and 10 by year's end than 14 and 18. He's only scored 48 runs in 83 games. The .278 average is strong but not that strong given the other shortcomings.

Eaton is solid at everything, which is useful early in the season when category needs are nebulous, but he's not a difference maker. And while he could give more in the season's second half, it's a bad bet, as he's more likely to be injured than put in a 15-15 season.

If there's a counting category you need serious help in (especially RBI, HR, or SB), there's probably a player on the 12-team wire who will provide more of it than Eaton, without taking too much away in other areas.

Yu Darvish (SP, CHC)

Darvish seems like a player who should be able to figure it out, but it's probably time to give up on that. His 2019 campaign has been essentially identical to his abbreviated, 40-inning first season with the Cubs: a 5.01 ERA now vs. 4.95 last year; 4.22 xFIP vs. 4.24 last year; an 11.7% walk rate both years. While the xFIP is nearly the same, his SIERA is 4.48 this year compared to 4.11 last season -- not a good deviation from the other trends.

It's still just 137 innings the past two seasons, but whatever work Darvish put in this past offseason hasn't translated to 2019 success. Strikeouts on a good team are usually valuable, but Darvish has managed to put up depressing peripherals regardless. There's some upside here, but it has not been demonstrated for some time, so it may be time to move on.

J.A. Happ (SP, NYY)

Despite almost identical ERA's in 2019 (Happ's is 5.02, just a hundredth of a run worse than Darvish), Happ and Darvish are somewhat different cases. Darvish has an advantage in strikeouts, but far worse control. Happ, unlike Darvish, was good last season.

But when it comes down to it, both are carrying terrible peripherals (Happ this season: 4.93 xFIP, 4.73 SIERA). Happ's are slightly worse because he's not missing bats. But his 2018 success counteracts the worse peripherals to put Darvish and Happ in the same category of 12-team cuts.

Both have had past success, and both play for good teams -- Happ's is even better than Darvish's -- but it's 2019, and neither is cutting it. So cut it. Them. Cut them. That pun failed.

 

14-Team Cut Candidates

Jurickson Profar (IF, OAK)

Several earlier 12-team cuts have become 14-team cuts in recent weeks, and Profar is the latest to join the trend. He's barely playing, with Franklin Barreto eating into his time. And when Profar does play, he's in the bottom two spots in the order.

Also unfortunate, Profar has already had a rebound, but it's gone already and hasn't helped overall. In 20 games (all starts) from May 16 to June 7, he mustered a .260/.321/.519 line despite just a .250 BABIP, with five home runs and 16 RBI. But it's been .239/.301/.358 with a .300 BABIP in nearly the month since then, during which he's also played 20 games (19 starts).

Although Profar has 10 home runs and is 6-for-6 stealing bases, the .215/.279/.375 slash line is too much. And with lost playing time, that's not a pace that will get him to another 20-10 season.

Steven Matz (SP, NYM)

Matz hasn't been very good since 2016 but remains on a curious number of rosters. Matz managed a 3.97 ERA in 2018 thanks in part to making 15 of his 30 starts at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, but he has regressed to a 4.93 this season, and his home/road splits are stark: a 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 home innings and a 7.07 in 42 innings on the road. A whopping 15 of his 18 home runs allowed have come on the road. There hasn't been a flukey Coors blowup in there, either.

At best, then, Matz is a streamer for home starts. A 4.59 xFIP/4.56 SIERA is pretty much what Matz had in his disastrous, abbreviated 2017 campaign (4.58/4.71). Visions of 2015-16 are counterproductive for what is now up to a 4.14 career ERA and 1.31 WHIP. The Mets aren't likely to produce many wins for Matz, either. It's best to move on in most places.

Addendum: Within a 24-hour period, there were rumors of Matz returning to the rotation and receiving save opportunities. If anything, the Mets' Matz indecision makes him even more cut-worthy.

Jose Alvarado (RP, TB)

Alvarado saved his fourth game of the season on April 7. He saved his fifth on May 18 and his sixth on May 26. And his seventh on July 1, in part because he missed most of June to care for his mother in Venezuela. But he followed up that seventh save by allowing six runs on July 3 while getting just six outs.

Tampa Bay has an unsettled bullpen situation, and Alvarado's now-4.85 ERA is not helping. His 17 walks in 26 innings are especially concerning. While it's possible he works his way back into a few more saves the rest of the way, for now, that is remote enough to move on in most leagues.

Addendum: Even more of a cut now after Saturday's oblique injury.

 

Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week (links to piece) This Week Reasoning
David Peralta Cut in 10, unless needing BA Cut in 12 (unless IL room) Back on the IL with the same shoulder issue
Dee Gordon Cut in 10, unless needing steals Same No change in profile
Jonathan Schoop Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Had a nice week (with .500 BABIP), but still low in lineup and consistency will remain issue
Jose Quintana Cut in 12 Hold Intrigue is back after another solid start
Wade Davis Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Only pitched once in the last week, no chance to change profile
Jose Peraza Cut in 14 Cut in 14 No change in profile
Mike Zunino Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Several more productive catchers remain out there, despite HR #4 during past week
Sandy Alcantara Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Still getting by on smoke and mirrors

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