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The Cut List (Week 19) - Time to Let Go?


The trade deadline has come and gone. Arguably only one widely-rostered player, Luke Jackson, became unusable thanks to a trade at the deadline. So not much has changed around here.

It's now really getting to that point in the fantasy season where cuts are going to be highly based on statistical needs, which are much more obvious now than they were in April and May. This is more true of hitters, whose production in each statistic can vary more widely than for pitchers. Additionally, with the season two-thirds over and no August waiver trades, player values are also largely well established at this point. There are far fewer obvious cases of failing sleepers or stale breakouts. So the recommendations become softer with more room for league context as time goes on.

Stats are through Friday, August 2 for hitters and Saturday, August 3 for pitchers, unless otherwise noted. 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, but the dividing line is generally there for a reason. And, 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

Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW)

Redraft only, of course. Jimenez has been just shy of an average hitter this season, with a 96 wRC+ packaged in a .235/.294/.458 slash line. With rate stats like that, it takes a lot to produce fantasy value. Nor will Jimenez ever be a runner; in the minors, he stole a combined one base in 2017 and '18. He has 17 home runs, 37 runs scored, and 39 driven in in 72 games. Alas, the 72 game figure isn't entirely his fault due to two different injuries, the latter of which he just returned from on July 28. In fact, he's 0-for-22 since returning, with no walks and eight strikeouts, which has turned his BB-K ratio into a 21-80. That seems to indicate an approach that needs work.

With time, Jimenez should start hitting again, even in 2019. Even so, the only category he really makes a difference in is home runs. If you need home runs, keep him around. If not, there could be better uses for his roster spot.

Wilson Ramos (C, NYM)

Ramos entered the season as one of the top half-dozen or so catchers, despite his home games moving to Citi Field. Interestingly, he has demonstrated the best plate discipline of his career, with a 10.0% walk rate and 13.4% strikeout rate. The result, however, is just a .256/.330/.377 line with 10 home runs (...11 after Saturday). He's also slumped since the All-Star Break, hitting just .190/.257/.254 with one homer (two).

Ramos' 2018 campaign was built on a .353 BABIP which has fallen to a much more reasonable, for someone so slow-footed, .271 this season. (What a joy this Statcast, for anyone who watches Ramos knows he's slow but now we can put a number on it: he has fourth percentile sprint speed.) The .353 was the fluke, not the .271.

With a lot of catchers putting together surprisingly strong campaigns, there are probably other shots to take in shallower one-catcher leagues. Then again, Saturday's blowup may make you think twice.

Masahiro Tanaka (SP, NYY)

How badly has Tanaka pitched lately? Try a 10.59 ERA in his last six starts, covering 26 1/3 innings. Even if you remove that 12-run start against Boston on July 25, it's a 7.43 ERA in the other five starts, 23 innings. The swings and misses have gone away, as Tanaka was getting whiffs on 11.3% of his pitches before the slump and only 8.1% of the time after.

Tanaka does get Baltimore and Toronto next, which is good because he should pitch well against them. But even strong starts won't necessarily inspire confidence that he will sustain success. And he could also be broken enough that Baltimore and Toronto won't fix his bottom line.

So this one is up to you in the shallower leagues (try and hold in standard ones). Taking the next two starts and cutting if either one goes poorly is probably the most reasonable play. But if you're tired of how Tanaka has pitched lately and there's a tempting wire option, it's understandable to cut now.

 

12-Team Cut Candidates

Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI)

Eight home runs and six steals. That's a kind of dual threat, but a modest one. Hernandez is putting the ball in play far more this season than he ever has, with a 5.6% walk rate and 13.3% strikeouts compared to career rates of 10.0% and 18.9% respectively. He's raised his OPS thirty points (.718 to .748), but his wRC+ has gone down (100 to 95) because of this year's explosive offenses.

Hernandez does have a .287 batting average, but only 49 runs and 46 RBI in 108 games to go with the 14 combined homers and steals. And so if you really, really need batting average, you can hold. But it's hard to see any kind of explosion from Hernandez over the last couple months that would justify optimism for more than BA help. He would need seven home runs and 13 steals just to match last year's 15 HR/19 SB output.

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN)

We haven't suggested too many cuts of injured players around here, because most leagues have spots designated for just such players. But some don't, and even in the leagues that do, often those spots can evaporate. When they do, it's decision time. Use bench spots to carry extra injured players or start cutting them loose? If the latter, the exact cut will depend a lot on team context, but also on each player's injury outlook.

It's not clear yet how much this shoulder injury will cost Buxton (although it probably won't be terribly long). And injury proneness is not a particularly real phenomenon until a player ages into the typical wear-and-tear years, but if a 20-something is injury prone, it's Buxton. This is his third separate trip to the injured list this season, following three disabled list trips in 2018.

So again, depending on who else is on your injured list or whether you still have IL space, Buxton is not at all a clear-cut cut...not a clear cut. (You know what I mean.) But there are league situations where it makes sense to use his spot for something else. The same is true of every injured player, not just Buxton.

Dustin May (SP, LAD)

With the usual redraft-only disclaimer, did May show enough in his debut to inspire a continued look? He only got swings and misses on 6.2% of his pitches against a Padres club whose non-pitchers swing and miss 12.0% of the time. It's true he was hit by a .429 BABIP that spurred the 4.76 ERA and 1.59 WHIP, but with so little swing-and-miss stuff (at least in his debut), balls are going to get into play.

Steamer projections anticipate a 4.17 ERA for May at this stage in his career, with 7.5 K/9. In redraft, "at this stage of his career" is important. The Nationals are next on the docket, one of the league's better offenses and with a .365 OBP in the last thirty days that ranks behind only Houston. It's a dangerous situation. Even if he's not a cut, he's probably a bench for this appearance. And if he's a bench, then there could also be better options on the wire too.

 

14-Team Cut Candidates

Ian Desmond (OF, COL)

Desmond's .821 OPS is a 95 wRC+ thanks to Colorado and this year's environment. That doesn't matter for fantasy -- Coors is Coors -- except to suggest that Desmond's base level of talent remains subpar, as it did for three of the previous four seasons. Desmond does not steal bases anymore, two this season after a previous full-season career low of 15 from 2017. And he has 13 home runs when it seems like everyone's hitting 30. In 98 games he has 47 runs and 52 RBI while hitting .271.

Desmond has interesting home-road splits this season with seven road home runs and just six at Coors, and all four of his stolen base attempts on the road, while hitting .319 at home and .224 on the road. That makes him difficult even to stream. He's still more valuable at home given the better R/RBI/BA, and the home runs over the rest of the season are more likely to diverge in favor of Coors HR than not.

So yeah, at best Desmond's value this year is to stream at home. A 20-home run hitter, which is about Desmond's pace this season, isn't very valuable if they're not doing much else.

Nathan Eovaldi (RP, BOS)

Eovaldi was supposed to become Boston's closer soon after returning from injury on July 22. His usage patterns don't indicate such a role is near. He's pitched in the eighth inning in four of his five post-return appearances, and when he did pitch the ninth, it was with Boston leading 19-3. His last two appearances came with Boston trailing.

Three of Eovaldi's last four appearances have been relatively smooth, so it's not inconceivable that he eventually does close games for Boston, a team for which the closer role should produce several opportunities for fantasy value. But all the pickups that were made in anticipation of Eovaldi immediately taking the role now seem premature. Use his spot for something else and try to get him back after his first save -- if it ever shows up.

Diego Castillo (RP, TB)

Like Eovaldi but on a lesser scale, ownership of Castillo may prematurely anticipate a closer's job. Unlike Eovaldi, Castillo did manage a save recently, getting the last two outs of a 10-9 win over Toronto on July 28. Since then, however, Emilio Pagan has earned a four-out save against Boston and a standard save against Miami. Pagan also has a 1.96 ERA and 3.28 FIP compared to Castillo's 3.64 and 4.10.

Jose Alvarado is also working his way back from an injury. He isn't very likely at all to close over Pagan either but does represent competition with Castillo for the opportunity. Tampa Bay may have a more committee-like approach to saves than most teams, but the role of closing games is much more Pagan's than anyone else's. Emilio is probably the only Tampa reliever worth of a fantasy roster right now.

 

Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week (links to piece) This Week Reasoning
Hunter Renfroe Cut in 10 Hold Trade of Franmil Reyes opens up playing time
Mike Minor Cut in 10 Cut in 10/Trade Struggled vs. Seattle and did not escape Texas at deadline making peripherals a continued issue
Greg Holland Cut in 10 Cut in 14 As sort of predicted, lost his job last Sunday (and posted a 108 ERA appearance just to be sure)
Scooter Gennett Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Underlying problems remain even after trade to Giants and their not-fun-to-hit-in ballpark
Domingo Santana Cut in 12 Cut in 12 unless needing HR Couple more homers, both solos with Seattle struggling overall, big K's continuing
Jordan Yamamoto Cut in 12 Cut in 14 Regression continues
Adam Jones Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Continues to struggle, lose playing time
Miguel Cabrera Cut in 14 Cut in 14 .375 with a home run, but four starts and still plays for that Detroit "offense"
Yusei Kikuchi Cut in 14 Cut in 14 No change in profile

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