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The Cut List: Week 4 - Time to Let Go?

Welcome back to the Cut List. This is our weekly article looking at players who fantasy managers should consider cutting from their teams. We'll look at players who are worthy of a drop, worth monitoring for replacing and someone on the hot seat but worth holding on to... for now.

We'll also revisit the previous week's choices to see anyone who plays their way off the Cut List and back into our lineups. This isn't a "hard and fast" list of definite players to drop but hopefully will act as a tool to help you with your roster decisions.

I'm a strong advocate for not making knee-jerk reactions at the start of the season. If a player has a bad week or two in the middle of the season, it's easily lost among the existing numbers. But when it's to start the year, a 1-for-15 slump is much more noticeable. To start out the year, we'll be putting more emphasis on roles rather than just pure stats, although of course, the numbers will always factor into the equation.  All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo) were correct at the time of writing.

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Last Week's Droppable List Revisited

Elvis Andrus - SS, Oakland Athletics

Has gone 2 for 16 this week. Still droppable in all leagues

Leody Taveras - OF, Texas Rangers

Did steal his second base of the season but has gone 2 for 14 this week and looks like a demotion candidate soon. Droppable in all redraft leagues.

Victor Reyes - OF, Detroit Tigers

Only started twice this week and is batting ninth when he does. Droppable in all leagues.

David Price - SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Price has improved this week, getting into three games and picking up a win and a save over his 4 IP of work. He struck out eight batters, giving up just two hits and a walk. He looks more comfortable as a reliever and despite the save, won't feature in the late innings too often. In deep leagues, he's rosterable as a ratio helper if he keeps it up but don't count on wins and saves.

 

Worth Dropping and Replacing

Patrick Corbin - SP, Washington Nationals - 74% rostered

I don't like jumping the gun when it comes to pitchers and two starts is pretty quick to consider dropping a starting pitcher drafted in rounds 10-12. But Corbin has been horrendous and now sports a 21.32 ERA and a 3.00 WHIP (6.1 IP). The seven walks allowed are a big concern and his average fastball velocity (90.3 MPH) is still down from his 2019 mark (91.8 MPH). His ERA won't be above 20 for long but he's not showing himself as being a serviceable fantasy pitcher right now.

Verdict - Droppable in shallow leagues (10-teams), needs to be benched in all other leagues. He's lined up to face the Cardinals next and if that goes disastrously, he can be dropped in deeper leagues too

Adam Ottavino - RP, Boston Red Sox - 18% rostered

We mentioned last week how Matt Barnes has been excellent as the Red Sox closer while Ottavino struggled early on. Ottavino hasn't been any better this week, as in two outings (1.1 IP) he gave up another earned run making his ERA sit at an unsightly 9.82. Meanwhile, Hirokazu Sawamura has a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 IP and Darwinzon Hernandez has a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 IP to have staked claims for higher leverage work and fill-ins for Barnes.

Verdict - Droppable in all leagues

Andrew Vaughn - 1B, Chicago White Sox - 26% rostered

Vaughn was included in the 'under consideration' section last week due to a lack of playing time and limited impact when he did play. Understandable that a rookie can't find form at the plate when he's only playing two or three times a week. Vaughn's start on Saturday was only his fourth since April 08th and he remains homerless while continuing to hit low down the order. It feels as though the White Sox are waiting for the Minor League season to begin so they can justify sending him down for more regular playing time.

Verdict - Droppable in 12-team leagues and smaller. In deeper leagues with daily roster moves, you can hold and hope he catches fire and gets more playing time but there could be better options on your waiver wire right now

Archie Bradley - RP, Philadelphia Phillies - 27% rostered

Last week we highlighted how Bradley had struggled and slipped down in the Phillies bullpen pecking order. Unfortunately, he was placed on the IL on Wednesday and is expected to miss a month with an oblique strain. The Phillies bullpen usage should be clear by the time he returns but Hector Neris is off to a solid start (1.69 ERA) as the closer as too has Jose Alvarado (1.59 ERA) as the next in line for saves.

Verdict - Droppable in all leagues

 

Hold For Now

Austin Riley - 3B, OF, Atlanta Braves - 40% rostered

Riley currently has a .190/.277/.190 slash line as he searches for his first extra-base hit of the season. Riley garnered a lot of pre-season fantasy love as people pointed to his increased average exit velocity in 2020, but what was missed by many is that was only on groundballs. His average exit velocity on line drives and flyballs actually decreased. Riley's .276 BABIP is marginally lower than last year's .280 mark and his 27.7% K% is up from last year's 23.8%. It's still early and Riley is a regular in the lineup but he needs to start showing signs of life to remain rosterable in fantasy.

Clint Frazier - OF, New York Yankees - 48% rostered

Like many Yankees, Frazier is struggling to start the year with a .182/.270/.242 slash line and has yet to homer or register an RBI. Concerningly, he's lost playing time to Brett Gardner and following the Yankees humbling to the Rays on Friday, Frazier admitted to being a "little off" at the plate. None of that bodes well moving forward. He's only recorded one hit in his last 22 plate appearances (6 games) and has been out of the lineup twice already this week. Given the Yankees struggles, Frazier could get hot and help carry the team somewhat but if his struggles don't end and Gardner continues to outperform him, he could find himself as the fourth outfielder or on the weak side of a platoon in the Bronx.

Zach Davies - SP, Chicago Cub - 47% rostered

Davies has always been held back in fantasy value due to a lack of strikeouts but last year he put up a career-high 22.8% K%. In three starts this year, that has fallen to a career-low 13.6%. His three starts have only lasted a total of 11.1 IP and he has an unsightly 10.32 ERA. Due to walking more hitters than he's struck out, he also has an ugly -1.7% K-BB%. Two of his starts have come against the Pirates, one of which saw Davies give up seven earned runs and only retiring five of the 13 batters he faced. His 6.09 xFIP and 6.16 SIERA are also worryingly high. He's due to face the Mets next week and anything over than significant progress could leave Davies in dropsville.

Jesus Luzardo - SP, Oakland Athletics - 85% rostered

The Jesus Lizard, as he's affectionately known, finally looks healthy but hasn't been able to back that up with positive results. An 8.31 ERA from his three starts (13.0 IP) isn't ideal but given his first two starts came against the Astros and Dodgers, could be excused. His worst start of the year actually came against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday where Luzardo lasted just 2.2 IP, giving up five earned runs on six hits and two walks (with one strikeout). He's scheduled to face the Twins and Orioles next week and two more clunkers like his last outing could see Luzardo's rostered percentage plummet.

 

On the Hot Seat

Devin Williams - RP, Milwaukee Brewers - 66% rostered

Given Williams was unlikely to get more than a handful of saves, it was somewhat surprising seeing the Brewers reliever drafted as early as he was (ADP ~180). That was due to his insanely low 0.33 ERA in 27.0 IP and 53 strikeouts (53.0% K%). This year has not seen a repeat and he's already given up four times as many earned runs as he did in the entire 2020 season. His 9.82 ERA is supported by a 7.21 xFIP and 6.28 SIERA so it's not down to bad luck. He's only given up three hits in 3.2 IP but has five walks as well as five strikeouts. Given we had such a small sample for Williams coming into this season, we still don't know how legitimate his 2020 was and until he can string together a run of scoreless outings, Williams will remain on the bubble of being a potential drop.

 

Under Consideration

Dallas Keuchel - SP, Chicago White Sox - 69% rostered

Unlike other starting pitchers listed here, Keuchel hasn't had a disastrous outing but he has had three rough outings, all consisting of three or more earned runs and five or fewer innings. With below-average strikeout numbers, if Keuchel doesn't start limiting base runners, he could end up with the worst year of his career and won't be serviceable in fantasy for much longer.

Andres Gimenez 2B, 3B, SS, Cleveland Indians - 57% rostered

Gimenez was a popular sleeper after a solid Spring and was expected to be a good source of steals. He hasn't quite lived up to that hype with a .194 batting average, one steal and one homer. Gimenez ended last week hitting leadoff for the Indians (against a RHP) on Sunday, was benched Monday (against a LHP), hit ninth on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (against a LHP and a two RHP), hit leadoff on Friday (against a RHP) then hit seventh on Saturday (against a RHP). That erratic usage and his so-so performances aren't helping fantasy managers trusting Gimenez in their lineup right now. Update: On Saturday night after this was written Gimenez went 2-for-3 with a HR and SB.

Corey Kluber - SP, New York Yankees - 71% rostered

Kluber currently has a 6.10 ERA from three starts but his expected ERA (xERA) is just 2.19. He's also struck out 12 batters in 10.1 IP but his 13.2% BB% is of concern. Historically, Kluber has been a slow starter as his career 4.01 ERA in March/April is more than any other month. Kluber can be benched for now and anyone with him on their roster can hope he does get going when the calenders turn to May. It might be optimistic hoping that a change in month can save the veteran pitcher going forward.

Joc Pederson - OF, Chicago Cubs - 37% rostered

The Cubs offense exploded on Saturday, scoring 13 runs on 14 hits. Pederson was the Cubs only starter who went hitless (0 for 2, two walks) to leave his batting average at .114. One of his five hits on the season was a homer but he's struck out in a third of his plate appearances now and is 1 for 13 against left-handed pitchers. If he doesn't get going, he's a candidate for a platoon role moving forward, even on a Cubs team not likely to compete for a playoff spot this year.



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