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The Cut List (Week 6) - Time to Let Go?

Welcome to May. Whether you've hung on to a player since draft season, or picked up a hot bat early on, there are always going to be players on your chopping block. Below are some of them.

Stats are through Friday, May 3. As we say every week: Remember that these recommendations are for standard leagues up to 12 teams, which of course means the players can be dropped in shallower leagues than 12. However, formats like dynasty or AL/NL-only are a completely different ballgame (so to speak).

And, of course, a link to the Waiver Wire Pickup List will be provided at the end of each cut suggestion.

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Week 5 Cut Candidates

Jose Leclerc (RP, TEX)

Let's lead off with an easy one. Yes, Leclerc will eventually figure something out and could later reclaim the closing job in Texas, but that looks to be afar off.

Leclerc set career bests last season with an 11.2% walk rate and 38.1% strikeout rate. This year, the walk rate is 16.1%, which is severe but probably less of an issue than his strikeout rate cratering to 25 percent. The .429 BABIP, more than double the .211 Leclerc allowed in 2018, is obviously unlucky but matters a lot more than if he were striking out a third of batters instead of a quarter. In just 10 2/3 innings, he's also hit three batters and thrown two wild pitches, matching his totals in 57 2/3 innings last year.

Leclerc is a ratio killer right now, and with the possibility for saves gone as well, he needs time to figure things out on the wire.

Preferred pickup: Shawn Kelley probably just gained the job Leclerc lost, so look into his availability. For more on Kelley click here.


Mallex Smith (OF, SEA/Tacoma Rainiers)

Another easy cut in perhaps an even more disappointing story than Leclerc's. Smith pushed for a top 100 ADP this draft season, and now finds himself in AAA. While a .366 BABIP last year seemed sustainable for a speedster like Smith, and a .234 BABIP this year would almost certainly not have lasted, Smith's 30% strikeout rate was quite alarming. With a contact rate that has fallen more than seven percent down to 69.2%, the increased strikeouts were deserved, too.

That paragraph was written in the past tense, but Smith will very likely return to the Majors at some point. However, with Mitch Haniger, Jay Bruce, and Domingo Santana holding down outfield spots, Smith could easily be limited to fourth outfielder duty when he does return. A fade from Bruce may be Smith's best chance to return to fantasy relevance, so it's something to watch out for. For now, however, it's perfectly okay to cut loose, as high a price as you might have paid during the draft.

Preferred pickup: Josh Reddick won't replace your steals, but until Smith comes back up, Reddick can't possibly post fewer. For more on Reddick click here.


Yuli Gurriel (1B, HOU)

Yuli Gurriel turns 35 years old in June. He's playing like it with a .234/.289/.360 slash rate, scoring 13 runs, driving in nine, and hitting one home run in 29 games. He's been a zero-category contributor thus far.

Unfortunately, Gurriel's best case at this point may be a one-category contribution in batting average. The ZiPS projection system already doubts that much with a ROS BA projection of .267. Gurriel's expected batting average by Statcast is pretty close to that at .266, which ranks in the 61st percentile. So even a regression to Gurriel's mean looks to produce barely above batting average. Other projection systems do like him in the .270-.280 range ROS, but even then, what else is Gurriel providing.

Gurriel has started 29 of Houston's 32 games, and it's not clear whom he could lose starts to (especially with Tyler White also struggling), so the playing time is there for him to produce better than a run every other game and an RBI every three games. His days as a double-digit home run hitter appear to be over, however, and he's 0-for-2 as a base stealer. There is higher upside to chase elsewhere as Gurriel approaches the seemingly sudden twilight of his career.

Preferred pickup: Niko Goodrum is eligible everywhere, batting cleanup almost every day, and hitting the ball hard.


Renato Nunez (3B, BAL)

Nunez homered four times in five games from April 20-23. Since then, he's 5-for-34 with no home runs, no walks, and 12 strikeouts. The good news is Statcast likes what he's doing, with a 91.3 mph exit velocity, 17.9 degree launch angle, and .494 xSLG. The bad news is...well, did I mention the zero walks?

Overall, Nunez has a .298 OBP this year, and a .305 career rate, so it's not a small sample matter. Nunez will go through stretches where he's swinging at everything and not doing it very well. On a team like the Orioles, there will also be stretches where Nunez has no one to drive in and no one who can drive him in.

While Gurriel is a one-category asset for batting average, the same thing can be said for Nunez and home runs. Additionally, both aren't particularly great at their one category. Nunez has been better for home runs than Gurriel for batting average so far in 2019, but a .250 average and 20-25 home runs is not something to hold out for.

Preferred pickup: Did I mention that Niko Goodrum is eligible everywhere, batting cleanup almost every day, and hitting the ball hard?


Dereck Rodriguez (SP, SF)

Getting rocked by the Yankees is nothing to be ashamed of, but here's the thing about Rodriguez: in this day and age, if a pitcher doesn't get strikeouts, he will always be a fringy asset. Rodriguez's peripherals are in line with his 4.35 ERA: a 4.57 FIP, 4.32 xFIP, and 4.51 SIERA. He had a 4.56 xFIP and 4.58 SIERA last year as well, so it's no surprise that he's around there again. Meanwhile, a team like the Giants won't give him very many opportunities to pick up W's. Lasting 5 1/6 innings on average won't get him many quality starts, if you play with those.

Rodriguez is basically someone you stream at his pitcher-friendly home park against middling or worse lineups. He started at Cincinnati on Saturday and his next start is at Coors Field. That second sentence doesn't fit very well with the first. Until Rodriguez shows strikeout stuff, which may not happen, he need not be a permanent fixture of your roster.

Preferred pickup: Spencer Turnbull has his own issues, but a higher K rate and more upside than Rodriguez. For more on Turnbull click here.


Watch-Out List

Brad Peacock (SP, HOU)

Peacock would be a cut by now if his next start weren't against the Royals. The fact that only the Twins have hit him hard, and twice now, is another reason to consider waiting this out a bit. That said, the underlying signs aren't that much better than his 5.28 ERA. He has a 4.65 xFIP and 4.43 SIERA, and is striking out only 20.5% of batters faced. Opponents are swinging and missing at only 9.0% of his pitches. All of that pales in comparison to Peacock's performance in 61 games (one start) last season: 2.82 xFIP, 2.40 SIERA, 35.3% strikeout rate and 13.5% swing-and-miss rate.

What has happened? Predictably, Peacock has had less fastball velocity starting games than out of the pen, but only 92.7 mph compared to 93.4 mph last year, and his two relief appearances this year featured velocities of 92.2 and 91.4 mph. And it's the fastball getting crushed, producing a -1.5 wFB after a 3.7 last year, while the slider has been better when hit, going from a -1.0 wSL last year to 2.6 this season.

The surface level predictors of xFIP and SIERA are bad enough, but the sample is small and highly affected by those two Twins starts. So see what happens against Kansas City and go from there. But it needs to be a really good performance to save his fantasy relevance, and in ten-team leagues, you can probably do better already.


Adam Jones (OF, ARI)

Adam Jones was blistering hot out of the gate, hitting .400/.415/.800 in his first eight games, thru April 6. He also homered at Coors Field on Friday. In between, he hit much more like a player on the decline at .211/.318/.316. You paid little to get Jones and it would cost little to cut him, although perhaps you want to find a trade here instead. Either way, waiting out a series at Coors Field first is a good idea.

Jones is still working on a good full season line of .289/.358/.521, a .374 wOBA nearly backed by a .361 xwOBA. The only worrying sign in his Statcast profile at this macro view is an 85.3 mph exit velocity, as his launch angle and barrel rate are up. His walk rate is up and his strikeout rate is down.

Depending on how late you got Jones, you've benefited little to none from his fast start to the season. This suggestion is more to ask you to consider, in some cases, to cut loose perhaps a little too soon rather than way too late.


Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week This Week Reasoning
Chris Taylor Cut Cut Friday homer a dead cat bounce; need to see more
Jose Peraza Cut Cut The xBA is what to watch, and it's up to .204 from .190, but that's still iffy progress
Julio Teheran Cut Cut Seven innings, three homers in last start
Jhoulys Chacin Cut Cut Six shutout innings last start, but three walks and just one K is playing with fire
Jesus Aguilar Watch Out Hold He started playing again and got hot almost as soon as he was written up; 4 BB on May 1 a particularly promising showing
Jurickson Profar Watch Out Cut It's just not happening for Profar, who is sitting quite a bit now as well
Zach Eflin Watch Out Hold Complete games are fun, but three strikeouts vs. the Marlins isn't great; still, continue to play wait-and-see

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