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The Cut List (Week 23) - Time to Let Go?

September. That time of year where non-contending teams will end a player's season over a generally minor injury, or otherwise cut into the playing time of regulars with expanded rosters. While actionable consequences won't really show until next week, it's something to start considering. Fortunately, next season rosters will jump from 26 to 28 instead of 25 to 40, mitigating the latter concern.

If you've read this space all year, you know about categories by now. So we're going to pare back on the super-aggressive, in-rhetoric-only cuts from the last few weeks. (For real, this time.)

Stats are through Friday, August 30, unless otherwise noted. Weekly reminders: Recommendations are for mixed leagues -- redraft, unless otherwise noted, as keeper leagues have their own rules. 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

Mike Tr...

JUST KIDDING! (I just hope that after the last several weeks you didn't think I was going to treat that idea seriously.)

Mike Moustakas (2B/3B, MIL)

Moustakas is putting together a strong campaign, mostly with 31 home runs, but he left the game on August 26 with a hand injury and hasn't played since. He's nonetheless avoided the injured list, at least for now. As long as he's on the roster but not healthy, it will be tough to retain him in smaller leagues. The Brewers are also at risk of being out of playoff contention in the final week or two. In that case, if Moustakas's injuries linger or even if they do not, he's bound to miss more games.

Moustakas has only had one month (July) with an OPS below .868, and his 147 runs plus RBI in 121 games are very good too, although his counting stats would be even higher without the 13 missed games and counting. He's not much in steals or batting average, however. So yes, categories still matter, but this is nonetheless a cut you might make on account of other factors as well.

This is probably more of a cut for daily leagues, for later this week if the injury continues to bother. In weekly leagues, it may be more apt for next week if he's still not playing enough while still avoiding the IL.


Daniel Murphy (1B/2B, COL)

People haven't been able to get away from Murphy this season, and it's admittedly difficult to get away from a fly ball hitter at Coors. Coors does hide deficiencies, after all.

But make no mistake, Murphy has been deficient this year. His exit velocity, strikeout rate, and barrel rate are all at career worsts. (Except for an 18.5% strikeout rate in his 151-PA debut in 2008.) His .281 batting average is helpful, but little else is, besides 69 RBI. The 11 home runs don't get it done in 2019.

If the Rockies move to towards more of their younger players in September, Murphy is a prime candidate to lose playing time. He is under contract for 2020, so that might help ward off some of the September blues if Colorado wants him to have a good month to play into next season. But he's hit like a 34-year-old, and the season isn't getting any younger either.


Chris Paddack (SP, SD)

On August 29 at San Francisco's friendly park, Paddack finally reversed a four-start slide. Concerns are rampant that his innings will be managed and he will be shut down at some point in September. Those are definitely founded, and you should heed them.

Oracle Park has easily been the hardest environment to score runs in 2019, and so Paddack's great start is a little less calming after the 10.06 ERA he had in his previous four starts. Three of them were against difficult opponents, but the fourth was against Colorado in San Diego, and he barely put up a quality start. And the degree of his struggles in the other three games makes Paddack the kind of pitcher you're not necessarily starting in every matchup anyway.

Arizona is next, and if you don't mind being a little aggressive getting out in front of the possible innings management Paddack faces, it's not the craziest idea to see who's on the wire instead.


12-Team Cut Candidates

Shin-Soo Choo (OF, TEX)

Choo has put together a decent 20-HR, 11-SB campaign. But he's been way more useful in OBP leagues, with a .370, than in standard batting average where he has a .263. He's played in just 128 games, limiting counting stats. He's been a run-scorer at the top of the lineup but only has 49 RBI.

He's also having a rough August, hitting .195/.352/.310. He was much better in July, but at age 36, a recovery at this point sure seems less likely than for a younger player. Either way, it's about time to play matchups instead of relying solely on talent, and that could put Choo on the fringes of your roster, especially for road trips. Yankee Stadium and Oriole Park are good for hitters, but not quite Globe Life-level.

And of course, being a baseball-old guy could also give him issues in September in finding AB's, since Texas is out of the race. He's kept up so far, last missing a start on August 22, but you can't necessarily assume he'll keep playing full-time.


Kevin Newman (2B, PIT)

Newman has been great for those who streamed him at Coors Field, but unless you need steals and batting average really bad, it's probably best to avoid the temptation of letting him stick around. Yes, batting leadoff and being the kind of player who will continue to play in September -- a still relatively unknown quantity for a non-contending team -- are benefits.

The downsides include a lack of power and poor projections. He clearly has some power, otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to take advantage of Coors as thoroughly as he has since Thursday. But his HR and RBI numbers are going to be a pittance once he leaves Denver. Also, since he's been such a big surprise with his .310 average and such, it's not necessarily a sustainable performance. He should hit closer to .280 than .300 the rest of the season.

This is a surprisingly close call that could go either way -- for instance, as long as you expect .280 instead of .300 that can still be useful -- but you do know that Coors Field explains a multi-homer weekend for someone who came into the game with seven of them. Can you punt power right now? If not, take what you got and move on in those redraft leagues.


Jon Lester (SP, CHC)

Lester's 4.36 ERA is marked by remarkably consistent peripherals: 4.32 FIP, 4.35 xFIP, and 4.47 SIERA. It seems like everyone has a 4.36 ERA these days, and that's because the MLB ERA is actually even higher at 4.53. So maybe you'd take Lester's line if he were consistent this year.

He hasn't been, as in a 5.58 ERA in the second half after he posted a 3.72 before the All-Star Break. And while the xFIP jump hasn't been as dramatic -- from 4.24 to 4.58 -- there are plenty of concerns. His strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. His 11.7 K-BB% in the second half is in the territory of what Merrill Kelly and Marco Gonzales have done over the course of the season.

Not great company. Chicago does offer win chances that other teams do not, but that is the only real benefit Lester can give you right now. Seattle is next, which isn't the worst matchup, but Lester still has the appearances of a pitcher who will soon be 36 years old (in January) and is running out of gas in the second half.


14-Team Cut Candidates

Justin Smoak (1B, TOR)

A .216 average with 20 home runs and zero steals is not the type of player you want in 2019. Additionally, some players may lose playing time in September, but Smoak is one of those whose team has already largely moved on. He has only started 20 of Toronto's 27 August games through Saturday.

And that's with reason beyond Toronto struggling and wanting to see more of its younger players. Smoak was strong out of the gate, with a .264/.385/.462 April. His May was also good outside of batting average, .207/.371/.463. He had hit 11 home runs at this point. Now he's hit .216/.355/.416 with 20 homers, so you can see what little the last three months have given.

It's hard to say whether Smoak's continued ownership relative to some other players, especially on any rosters that remain competitive, is due to inattention or hopes for more. But there's little reason to hope for more, and so he can go if it's the latter.


Kyle Gibson (SP, MIN)

Gibson was fairly useful through July. But his last five starts feature a 7.18 ERA and just a 22-10 K-BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings. Sure, there's a .402 BABIP involved, but when you allow four earned runs on 10 hits in fewer than six innings to the Tigers in consecutive starts, something is wrong even with bad luck.

The BABIP and two wins in those games, thanks to his offense, may make Gibson seem useful, but the upcoming schedule is a mess. It starts with a game at Boston. At the very, very least he's a bench for that.

At this point in the season, it's not worth holding on to pitchers that you can't start every single time they pitch. If you are running ahead of your innings limit, you'll want to dump bad pitchers. If you're running behind, you need pitchers who are useful against their next opponent. If you are right on target, you still probably want to find a better starter than Gibson, or a hitter.

(Also, Martin Perez: yuck. Cut him too.)


Sergio Romo (RP, MIN)

Romo should be a simple cut in any league at this point. It seemed like he had a chance at continuing to close after Miami traded him, given the unsettled nature of Minnesota's bullpen. But that hasn't come to be.

And, of course, it never really was unsettled in the ninth inning. Since Blake Parker's fade, Taylor Rogers has had a pretty good lock on the job.

It's time to move on from Romo if you haven't yet.



Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week (links to piece) This Week Reasoning
Josh Bell Cut in 10 Hold So, um, yeah. He showed me. Then again some of this is the Philadelphia and Colorado parks.
Josh Hader Cut in 10 Hold Well, he's back in the closer role. Whatever tinkering he did in his break must have worked. That was a miss without enough hedging.
Whit Merrifield Cut in 10 Hold Was rhetorical like the others, but .323/.344/.323 and 1-for-2 stealing? He remains a concern and at least a 2020 fade
Matt Carpenter Cut in 12 Cut in 12 It got a little better last week, but more than that is needed to see the corner turned.
Justin Upton Cut in 12 Cut in 12 The struggle continues
Caleb Smith Cut in 12 Cut in 12 Another rough start continues backslide
Nick Senzel Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Still bouncing in and out of lineup
Yusei Kikuchi Cut in 14 Cut in 14 You didn't start him against the Yankees, did you?
Marco Gonzales Cut in 14 Cut in 14 You didn't start him at Texas, did you?


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