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The Cut List: Week 6 - 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 and struggling players who need a closer peek. We'll look at players who are worthy of a drop, worth monitoring for replacing and someone on the hot seat who is worth holding on to... for now.

Following the huge number of Reddit replies on this piece each week, I'll be including a section called 'Reddit Requests' featuring the most commonly mentioned players on the thread every Sunday. So if there's anyone you specifically want to know whether to drop or hold who isn't included in the article, comment there and they might be featured the following week. 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. A bad week or two in the middle of the season is easily hidden across a whole season. To show you how easy it is for a hitter to turn things around statistically, Nick Senzel entered Thursday's game against the Dodgers with a .203 batting average. A 4-for-4 performance bumped his average up to .254. An increase of .051 in one game is possible at this stage of the season. All stats and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Worth Dropping and Replacing

Amir Garrett - RP, Cincinnati Reds - 42% rostered

The Reds bullpen continues to be a mess, with Tejay Antone looking like the most trustworthy arm among their relievers. Only the Detroit Tigers bullpen has a higher ERA (6.70) than the Reds (5.71) and Garrett has the highest ERA (12.27) among the group. On Friday night, defending a two-run lead, the Reds let Carson Fulmer (who pitched the eighth inning) try and seal the victory. He gave up a single and a walk before they called upon Lucas Sims to get the save. He allowed both runners to score by giving up three walks while recording two outs before Antone got the final out and the save. Garrett hadn't pitched since Wednesday (when he came in to pitched the seventh while down by two runs) yet wasn't in consideration Friday. On Saturday, he recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning in which the Reds trailed the Cubs. It's clear - despite how bad the Reds bullpen is - that Garrett isn't getting any high-leverage work soon.

Verdict - Droppable in all formats.

Keston Hiura - 1B/2B, Milwaukee Brewers - 76% rostered

We can focus on Hiura's struggles at the plate all we want. But we found out earlier this week that Hiura's mother has health issues and it would be no surprise if that's a huge contributing factor in Hiura's struggles. I'm not going to speculate on that and just wish the Hiura family well. But for fantasy purposes, Hiura is currently hitting .167/.268/.292 and has a 35.4% K%. He's not started the Brewers' last four games (but has been used as a pinch hitter) which might help him going forward but it's unclear whether the benching is for performances or to let him clear his head a bit.

Verdict - Droppable in all formats and hope the family health issues improve. 

Ian Happ - 2B/3B/OF,  Chicago Cubs - 51% rostered

I've backed Happ to turn things around and believed that as long as he was leading off for the Cubs, he'd still have value due to his exceptional walk rate (16.1% BB%). Unfortunately, he has a dreadful 33.3% K% to go with it and is hitting .133 with a .173 slugging percentage. He lost the leadoff spot this week and didn't start for the Cubs on Wednesday and Friday, but returned to the top of the order on Saturday, seeking his first hit of the week, which he achieved while going 1-for-4. He's playing good defense and is hitting the ball hard (86th percentile in hard-hit%), but contact is so rare it doesn't matter as much (ten hits in 93 plate appearances).

Verdict - Droppable in standard 12+ team leagues. Can be held in OBP leagues and deeper leagues as the positional versatility helps. But it's hard to start him at present and another rough week will make him a drop in all leagues.


Hold For Now

Victor Robles - OF, Washington Nationals - 51% rostered

Robles was on last week's hot seat and ordinarily, I'd be saying he's a drop. But Robles has a strong and dedicated fanbase among the fantasy community and some people will hold on to him no matter what. He has actually improved his slash line to .227/.346/.273 following a 3-for-10 week which included only his second extra-base hit on the season. He was also caught stealing and still sits at just one stolen base and zero homers with one RBI and six runs scored. He didn't start on Saturday and is looking less like a regular fixture in the Nationals lineup. When he does start, he's hitting eighth or ninth in the order and nothing in his underlying numbers suggests he's going to have a break out any time soon.

Dallas Keuchel - SP, Chicago White Sox - 65% rostered

This is Keuchel's second straight week in the Under Consideration section. Why? Well last weekend, he had his best start of the season, throwing six shutout innings against the Texas Rangers, giving up seven hits, no walks and two strikeouts. I proclaimed a repeat performance will see him return to safety on fantasy rosters. Unfortunately, on Friday night he gave up four earned runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts over six innings. His ERA now sits at 4.65 and his BB% (8.4%) and K% (12.2%) are the worst they've been since his debut season in 2012. The concern is his expected ERA (xERA) is 5.58 and he has a 4.38 xFIP and 4.80 SIERA. The lack of strikeouts will always limit Keuchel's fantasy value but he's on course for his worst statistical season since 2013. If he can string together two or three solid outings, he'll likely remain rosterable. But another clunker next week will leave him droppable in all but deep leagues. He's becoming a matchup-dependent streaming option.

Charlie Blackmon - OF, Colorado Rockies - 91% rostered

Blackmon featured in the 'Reddit Requests' last Sunday and I preached patience with him. Although he won't steal bases anymore, he can still hit .275 with 20 homers and 70-80 runs and RBI. I do still believe that but he has slipped down the batting order this week, hitting fifth or sixth. That came after sitting out last Sunday's game following an 0-for-16 stretch. He has hit better this week since his demotion down the order, going 7-for-21 with two doubles and driving in four runs while scoring two himself. That also included three multi-hit games and has brought his batting average back up to .200. He's not striking out much (14.6% K%) but doesn't play good defense and will need to hit to remain an everyday player (although being under contract through 2023 will help with that too). The signs of life in his bat this week should ensure he stays rostered and he shouldn't be dropped yet. Another solid week will put fantasy managers' minds at ease.


On the Hot Seat

Cavan Biggio - 2B/3B/OF,  Toronto Blue Jays - 89% rostered

Biggio was a common name mentioned last weekend as a possible drop. And while I don't think we're there yet, it's closer to drop time than we'd like it to be. His Statcast profile is putrid and while it can be too simplistic to look at that without context, ranking last among qualified hitters in expected batting average and expected slugging percentage is never a good thing. The consensus is expected weighted on-base average (xWOBA) is one of the best guides as to how a hitter is really performing. If so, it doesn't bode well either as Biggio is in the third percentile. His 31.6% K% is a career-high and his 12.7% BB% is a career-low.

Granted, his career is still in its infancy having played just 159 MLB games before this season. But he's barely making contact and even when he does, he's not hitting it very hard. When he does manage to make hard contact, it's generally a groundball as evidenced by his 41.5% groundball rate. An 0-for-4 performance with three strikeouts and a walk on Sunday has dragged his line down to .186/.301/.314. The upside is still there and the previous power/speed combo numbers he's put up will keep him fantasy relevant. But it's becoming clear how low the floor is with Biggio and if he doesn't get his bat going soon, the patience of fantasy managers will have worn out, and rightly so.


The Reddit Requests

As promised, here are the most asked about players from last week's Reddit thread as to whether they're droppable.

Matt Chapman - 3B, Oakland Athletics - 90% rostered

There's still some lingering concern about Chapman's hip injury and whether or not it's impacting his play. However, we've received no official word on that and Chapman currently ranks in the 100th percentile for Outs Above Average so it's certainly not impacting him on defense. He has shown signs of life at the plate this week and is in a four-game hitting streak, going 6-for-15 with one home run and a double. He currently has a career-high 13.9% BB% and is in the 85th percentile for Barrel% which all suggests he's seeing the ball well. There is still some concern for Chapman the rest of this season but he's still not droppable in fantasy leagues.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. - OF, Toronto Blue Jays - 80% rostered

Gurriel Jr. is another one who has reminded us this last week that we need to be patient with struggling hitters, especially those with a solid track record. Heading into this week, he had a .203/.232/.219 slash line and was still searching for his first homer of the season. Gurriel Jr. finally hit his first home run on Thursday and promptly doubled his tally with another one during a 3-for-5 performance on Friday. Another hit on Saturday has him riding a modest three-game hitting streak and has pushed his line to .224/.256/.316. George Springer returned from the IL this week and has been leading off as the DH which means Gurriel Jr. is still in the lineup, albeit hitting seventh or eighth. With Rowdy Tellez optioned to the alternate site, there isn't a true obstacle in the way for Gurriel Jr. to continue being an everyday player. Even when Springer starts playing the outfield, they don't have a better bench bat than Gurriel Jr. right now. He's still someone you hold onto and hope the last few days are the beginning of him performing to expectations. If he does manage to keep the momentum of the last few days, he may even find himself moved back up the Blue Jays lineup too.

Dansby Swanson - SS, Atlanta Braves - 76% rostered

Last year's power (10 homers in 60 games) is looking more like an outlier for Swanson but even if it was, it's not like his prior two seasons were bad. In 2018 and 2019, Swanson played 187 games and hit 27 homers, stole 15 bases and had a .258/.332/.436 slash line. Nothing remarkable, but solid nonetheless. He's currently sporting a .200/.273/.320 line with two homers and one stolen base in 27 games. If we compare his actual numbers to his expected numbers, they paint a picture of an unlucky hitter. His xBA is .255, his xSLG is .469 and his xWOBA is .340 (actual wOBA is .262). He's ranking in the top-half of contact metrics and although he was a bit overvalued in drafts this offseason, Swanson will still be a solid fantasy option at the middle infield spot.

Ryan Mountcastle - 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles - 47% rostered

It shouldn't be a surprise when a rookie struggles but Mountcastle's 2020 debut offered hope he could be a fantasy starter in 2021 as well. That's not worked out as he's hitting just .198 with one home run. What has come as a pleasant surprise are his three stolen bases, as he only had 27 steals in 524 minor league games. Mountcastle is another hitter who has had a solid week. As of last Sunday, he was hitting .167, but he's gone 7-for-22 this week and has a hit in all six games. I still like Mountcastle long-term and if he repeats the last few days again next week, he should find his way back on fantasy rosters. If he maintains this last week's level of performance, he should be rostered in pretty much all leagues again soon enough.

Eugenio Suarez - 3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds - 91% rostered

I'm officially very worried about Suarez. I alluded to the fact that he's playing shortstop (and struggling defensively) could be affecting his hitting, but truth be told, his struggles go back to last year as well. Over the last two years, Suarez has played 81 games and is hitting .179/.286/.417. I do take solace in the fact he got off to a dreadful start last year as he had a .147/.297/.293 line with three homers through the first four weeks of 2020. The remaining five and a half weeks were much kinder to Suarez, hitting .235/.324/.588 with 12 homers. Suarez homered on Friday night to offer hope of a turnaround but then went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Saturday. His expected numbers are barely better than his actual numbers which doesn't offer much promise right now either. I'm holding on optimistically that he repeats last year and gets hot after a rough first few weeks but that hope is dwindling by the day. I'm not dropping him yet, but if we're still waiting for a turnaround in his numbers in a fortnight, it could be time to cut fantasy ties with him.

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