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The Cut List (Week 21) - Time to Let Go?

Thank you to Austyn Varney for filling in at the Cut List last week.

Crunch time is approaching. If you're like me, you have multiple leads that are evaporating before your eyes, because fantasy baseball is never easy. Moments that require quick action can strike at any time. If your trade deadline has passed, the waiver wire becomes even more important. Every waiver add has a reciprocal cut, of course, and making the right decision in whom to cut can be almost as important as who was added.

Stats are through Friday, August 16 for hitters and Saturday, August 17 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.

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10-Team Cut Candidates

Aaron Judge (OF, NYY)

This is one of those that seems absurd, but where categories matter at this late stage. On the one hand, Judge has been making much better contact than is production this season lets on. On the other hand, he's only hitting .212 with two home runs in the last 30 days and .262 overall and he has started to sit the occasional game of late (most recently August 9 and 17, as well as the first game of an August 12 doubleheader). He bats second when he does play, so he has leaned into runs scored but missed out on RBI. If you need average or RBI, this is the kind of player you cut when his name is not Aaron Judge.

Since this is Aaron Judge, and the contact has been good, you probably don't cut him on August 18. It's more of a cut to be saved for a situation where, for example, there are two games left in the season and you have three points to gain in SB but none in HR.

We'll have fewer of these kinds of cut suggestions going forward. If you've been reading this column in the second half of the season, you are probably getting the idea about categories by now. It's good to stay on your toes even with the 99% owned players.


Tommy Pham (OF, TB)

Pham has been battling a hand injury lately. It cost him three of four games from August 10-13. When a player avoids the injured list in a situation like this, it doesn't necessarily mean they are home free. In fact, it can be detrimental if they sit too often and potentially struggle when they do play thanks to the physical ailment. Pham did homer on August 14.

However, it's not just the recent injury. Pham's season numbers peaked around June 20. Since June 21, he's hit just .211/.296/.373, while missed games have limited him to 20 runs scored and 19 driven in. He does have six homers and six steals in that time frame. Nonetheless, he is now going on nearly two months of below-average hitting.

You'll want to keep monitoring Pham's hand in the coming week or two. Even if you decide to hold off on cutting for now, one setback and he could be done -- not necessarily done playing, but done being effective. Your team doesn't necessarily have the luxury of waiting around for players battling nagging injuries.


Matthew Boyd (SP, DET)

Boyd pitches Sunday and has a major tide to turn to avoid deserving the ax. In his last two starts against two mediocre offenses (Seattle and Kansas City), he has allowed 12 runs and seven home runs in just eight innings. He gets to face the Rays, who just snapped a 28-inning scoreless streak in their current series against Boyd's Tigers. If it goes badly, and you don't need Boyd's strikeouts, he will become a very reasonable cut. You can't wait around for homer-itis this bad.

Boyd has allowed 30 home runs overall this season, but 23 of those have come since the calendar turned to June, spanning 73 1/3 innings. To give you an idea of how amazing that is, Dylan Bundy led MLB with 41 home runs allowed last season, and it took him 171 2/3 innings: Boyd's pace since June 1 would have him allow 54 home runs over the same number of innings.

So yes, the strikeout stuff is there. But when hitters are touching the ball, they are tattooing it. One more grotesque display should be enough to say no more, especially if the strikeouts don't help you very much in the standings at this point, or if you really need wins as Detroit isn't the offense to give you those.


12-Team Cut Candidates

Khris Davis (DH, OAK)

It's sadly getting to the point where you have to consider letting Davis go at standard depths if you haven't thought about it already. Davis is the kind of player you never drop in May, even if it becomes the popular thing to do. But at this time of year, when he's never gotten it going, you have to study your options.

Davis has only started in five of Oakland's last 11 games from August 5-17. He is hitting .224 on the season and .185 in the last 30 days, with 17 total home runs and only one of them in the last 30 days. Unlike Judge, Davis' has depressing Statcast numbers. For example, he's lost almost three miles per hour of exit velocity from last season.

It's likely the hip causing issues for Davis, and while most owners have waited around on him, cuts are gaining steam. This isn't even a category issue; Davis has hit like he's been spelling his first name with a 'C' this season. There's always a chance someone this talented turns it around, but holding is at least as risky as cutting at this point if not more.


Shohei Ohtani (DH, LAA)

Why bail on Ohtani now? He threw a bullpen session Saturday and did not play in that day's game. If his pitching rehab continues to interfere with his playing time -- and it will reportedly include sim games before the end of the year -- that will ding his counting stats the remainder of the season, and you might need every run, RBI, and steal you can get at this point in the season.

Ohtani's bat has also slowed down in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star Break, he's hitting .282/.360/.400 with just one home run. So yet again, there is also a categories issue at play; your wire may have more doing for home runs than Ohtani will give.

One thing that hasn't changed for Ohtani is his lack of position eligibility. That has tamped down on his value this season. The slower post-ASB bat, possible category needs, and potential playing time issues as his pitching rehab progresses; it could well add up to a cut in the context of your redraft league.


Dallas Keuchel (SP, ATL)

Miami recently dominated Keuchel, who then recovered against the Mets and next gets to face Miami again. If you want to see what Keuchel does with his next chance, go ahead, but always beware a pitcher with this little strikeout stuff.

Compare Keuchel to Boyd. Their ERA's are nearly identical (4.38 for Boyd, 4.39 for Keuchel), but Keuchel doesn't strike anyone out (53 in 65 2/3 innings) while also playing for a team good enough to get wins. (Keuchel hasn't had a win since his first start after the All-Star Break, but that's mostly randomness with Atlanta's offense.)

Once again, categories prevail. If you had both Keuchel and Boyd and needed to cut one, whether you were more desperate for wins or strikeouts would be the deciding factor. Keuchel is a deeper cut possibility because the lack of strikeouts builds up his WHIP. He's almost solely a wins play at this stage in his career whereas Boyd is somewhat of a talent play, if things were going better.


14-Team Cut Candidates

Hunter Pence (OF, TEX)

This is pretty much a playing time issue. Texas is giving Pence plenty of time off as their playoff hopes fizzled, the season winds down, and the reborn 36-year-old prepares for free agency.

Pence is doing pretty well this August, with a .240/.345/.640 line and three homers. He's just only played in nine and started in six of Texas' 14 games in August including Saturday.

It's a simple case here. You're not going to pick up the counting stats you desperately need with someone starting only half of games. Maybe with a deep bench in a daily league you can justify continuing to hold Pence, but in most cases it's best just to find someone on the wire who will play more reliably.


Dustin May (RP, LAD)

It kind of stinks, because May has done pretty well in his first three MLB starts: a 2.65 ERA, 2.75 FIP, and 3.63 xFIP in 15 innings, with excellent control (two walks).

But now that it appears he will be a reliever for the rest of the season, he simply doesn't have much value in any league.

Any redraft league, that is. As with all of these, keeper designations matter. Teams in deep keeper and dynasty leagues will definitely want to hold on to May.


Shane Greene (RP, ATL)

That escalated quickly. Greene went from presumptive closer to the doghouse very quickly after his trade to Atlanta. Owners are bailing, but from the looks of Greene's ownership percentage, not nearly fast enough.

It's not just that Greene has a 11.81 ERA in 5 1/3 innings with Atlanta or lost his job. Remember, this was a guy whose performance with Detroit was always very tenuous. His only good year with the club before this one, 2017, featured a 2.66 ERA despite a 4.24 xFIP, and he put up a 5.12 ERA with a 4.05 xFIP last season. His ERA this year is still 2.49 but the xFIP is 3.88.

Greene is simply not a very good MLB relief pitcher, and without a guaranteed closer job, he's fantasy useless.


Last Week's Updates

Because of the substitute last week, this section will return in Week 22. See you then.


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