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The Cut List (Week 26) - Time to Let Go?

Here it is, the final week. With 96% of the season in the books, anyone can be considered droppable under the correct circumstances. Most obvious would be a situation where you have already hit a playing time cap and thus have no use for anyone who plays that position. Or if you are 15 home runs behind and 15 home runs ahead of your neighbors in the standings. Or if someone like Anthony Rizzo is out for the year.

That's mostly a joke, but also the Rizzo situation is a fluke. If you're in a redraft league and still have Christian Yelich or Joey Gallo or Ketel Marte or all three (sobs), it is safe to let them go. But let's try to find some tougher calls than that.

Stats are through Friday, September 20, 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.

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10-Team Cut Candidates

Whit Merrifield (2B, KC)

Merrifield was a somewhat rhetorical 10-team cut suggestion four weeks ago. He's back now as a very serious suggestion. Since that time, he's posted a .304/.333/.384 line with one home run and two steals in four tries. He's not going to get to 20 home runs or 20 steals.

In the past 14 days, it's an even worse .232/.271/.304 with no home runs and not even a steal attempt. He's struck out 17 times in 58 plate appearances with just three walks.

Merrifield's positional eligibility makes him easy to put somewhere in the lineup if you're out of games at one of his positions, but he's not much more than a body right now. With only a week to go and an offense that won't drive him in very often even if he does reach base, there's not enough upside here anymore with so little time to get right.


Max Muncy (OF, LAD)

Muncy has a quad issue. It's not a significant one, but it doesn't have to be at this point in the season. If Muncy only plays three games of the last six, you might find better value in someone more likely to play every game of the last week.

Another factor for Muncy is where the Dodgers conclude their season: at San Diego and at San Francisco. That is not where you want your players hitting down the stretch.

The Dodgers already have an ever-present roster crunch, and even just a minor ding could exacerbate things. Because of this as well as the parks they travel to, any Dodgers hitter should be considered a question mark in the final week, not just Muncy.


Aaron Nola (SP, PHI)

You may well mostly be cutting pitchers at this point in the season, since now a one-start week is also a one-start ROS. And if it's not a favorable match-up, you may want to go with a stream of a hitter or pitcher.

Nola, for instance, looks to have only one start left this season, and it's at Washington. (There is a very slim chance he starts the final game, however.) The Nationals have struggled of late, but remain a dangerous offense. Nola is also coming off a bad start vs. the Braves and three bad starts in four tries overall this September. Nationals Park has also been a major hitter's haven this season.

That all adds up to an iffy situation for Nola and if there are better streams available on the wire or a hitter you really want, consider going for it.


12-Team Cut Candidates

Starling Marte (OF, PIT)

This is one of those in-between health issues that can make for a tough call. Marte's wrist injury has prevented him from playing since September 10 and from starting since September 8. He's been a terrific asset this season, hitting .295 with 23 HR/25 SB and 179 R+RBI, and so a fear of missing out on his last week is reasonable.

But the Pirates have nothing to play for, and wrist injuries can sap performance more so than other ailments. It's not clear why they haven't simply shut him down yet--and as of Wednesday they still planned not to--but for the Pirates and for Marte, there's little apparent incentive to return especially with the possible downside of aggravating the injury.

Even if Marte does come back, there's not enough time to make an impression and the chances that the injury hurts his performance even if he does return are significant. There are probably better uses of his roster spot now.


Mike Minor (SP, TEX)

Minor is the 12-team version of Nola here. He's working on two consecutive bad starts against Oakland and a 4.65 seasonal xFIP and will face Boston to end his season.

Although the Red Sox may start resting players after elimination, the game is also in Texas' extreme run-heavy environment. Unsurprisingly, Minor has gotten significantly worse results at home this season, including a BABIP that is 90 points higher at Globe Life than on the road. And unless Boston rests everybody for his game, they will still have tough hitters in the lineup.

Minor was a 10-team cut eight weeks ago and has put up a 4.59 ERA since then, despite two scoreless outings to start August. He's iffy at best for his final start, especially with the Texas offense falling off late in the year (79 wRC+ in September) to hurt his win chances.


Marcus Stroman (SP, NYM)

Stroman is lined up for the Braves. Of course, like Boston, Atlanta seems susceptible to giving its starters a bit of rest as the regular season winds down (albeit for different reasons).

That said, they probably won't rest everybody all at once. By Sunday they might, but Stroman's start is looking like Friday. Stroman has actually turned in decent peripherals with the Mets, but he's also put up a 1.51 WHIP with his new club.

Stroman is also starting Sunday, at Cincinnati, which is a tough park but not a tough offense. If it's a struggle for Stroman, that should reinforce the idea of cutting him. If he does okay, maybe you choose to hold, but he's another of the one-tough-start-left crew that should be looked at if more pertinent streams are available on the wire.


14-Team Cut Candidates

Buster Posey (C, SF)

There have been a lot of catchers to have surprisingly decent seasons, so it's somewhat of a surprise to see so many rosters still including Posey as the season concludes. For example, with just six home runs, he is tied for 43rd among catcher-eligible Yahoo players. Additionally, the Giants only play at home in the final week. That's bad news for offensive production given how badly Oracle Park suffocates it.

Posey, specifically, has exactly zero home runs at home this season. Who knows, maybe he runs into the first one in the final week, but it's a bad bet.

If you are competing while still rostering Posey, there should definitely be a catcher available who will be more productive in the final week. Maybe he won't have the name recognition, but few catchers are looking at tougher situations in the final week than Posey.


Nomar Mazara (OF, TEX)

A 12-team cut several weeks back, Mazara has had a decent second half but there are likely to be several better options out there even in deeper leagues.

As usual, the complication is an injury. Mazara's oblique has limited him to just six appearances and five starts in September. Although he did homer on the 19th, that's not enough playing time to trust in deeper leagues and he's also hitting just .250/.273/.400 the past four weeks.

Although Texas gets to host Boston and New York at their bandbox in the final week of the year, there are too many issues with Mazara to be rostering him at this critical juncture.


Johnny Cueto (SP, SF)

Well, Cueto in his third start of the year finally showed the downsides of coming off of a long injury layoff, and now his final start comes against the Dodgers.

Yes, it's in San Francisco's friendly park, but that's about the only upside. Cueto still hasn't gone more than five innings in a start since returning, and the Dodgers don't seem like a good bet for him to produce an extended start at any park.

Cueto has also run into control issues with eight walks in his three starts despite just throwing 14 innings. The risk doesn't outweigh the reward. At best Cueto is looking at reasonable ratios but with little chance at strikeouts or a win. But the risk that even the ratios won't be there is pretty high.


Last Week's Updates

Player (links to piece) This Week Reasoning
Eddie Rosario Cut in 10 Hold We'll eat this one after a strong week and concluding the season against the Tigers and Royals
Yuli Gurriel Cut in 10 Hold Looks like hammy is fine after all, and season wrap-up is friendly (Angels and Mariners)
Lance Lynn Cut in 10 Hold* *Only for visiting at Oakland and only if the win isn't important, then cut for final start against the Yankees
Edwin Encarnacion Cut in 12 Cut in 12 He's expected back but the injury is a big question mark and how much will he really play instead of being saved for the playoffs
Lorenzo Cain Cut in 12 Cut in 12 A couple home runs haven't really turned things around with the .217/.250/.478 slash line
Mike Fiers Cut in 12 Hold Fiers continues to defy expectations this season and at Seattle isn't the toughest final start
Andrelton Simmons Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Even with .304 BA past week, tough to trust a .304/.333/.348 slash and .259 season
Edwin Diaz Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Still not closing, still somewhat struggling
Ivan Nova Cut in 14 Cut in 14 Handling Detroit with a 1.60 WHIP not a ringing endorsement for his final start whether Cleveland (definitely cut) or Detroit again (probably avoid playing with fire)


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