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The Cut List (Week 8) - Time to Let Go?


May is half over. That's scarcely believable, but it's true. Much more believable but equally true: there are plenty of players that should be axed. April showers can't bring May flowers for everyone, and some players even got that proverb mixed up: they are following up April flowers with damp May production. This analogy is failing, so let's move on to the serious part.

Stats are through Friday, May 17. 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).

As usual, you can find a replacement for all of these cut candidates at the Waiver Wire Pickup List. Suggestions are also considered below, but if you don't like them, check out the rest of the 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!

 

Week 8 Cut Candidates

Danny Jansen (C, TOR)

Until now there have yet to be any catchers listed among cut possibilities all year. It's just such a punt this season. Want to see if Austin Barnes puts it together? You like the talent, so why not. Want to cut Austin Barnes instead of waiting around? Jason Castro is hot and you've got to try to catch fire. But will Jason Castro be a good hitter all year? Maybe not, so perhaps hold on to your catcher, who is presumably on your roster for a reason. Is it Austin Barnes? You get the idea.

Danny Jansen, who finally hit his first home run of the season on Friday, bringing his season line to .173/.261/.245, is one of the catching position's biggest punts this season. He hit .247/.347/.432 in 95 rookie PA last season for a 115 wRC+ and since catcher is so weak, that made him a top ten option entering the season. But you may have noticed his line this year is...not great, Bob.

Hate the catching landscape all you want and put your hopes on a recent homer if you wish, but the truth is there are some catchers doing quite well. It's just most of them have a history of not being good. Jansen's 95 plate appearance debut last season isn't much history either, however. He can be dropped.

Pickup suggestion: Castro. More on Castro here. Although he's only suggested as a two-catcher league option, there is an argument to try him out in any league and see what sticks, and argument that once again is rooted in the barrenness of the catcher landscape.

Kiké Hernandez (IF/OF, LAD)

Hernandez began to approach if not achieve fantasy relevance last season with a .256/.336/.470 line, 21 home runs, and three steals in 145 games for the Dodgers. Eligible at several positions, Hernandez appeared to take a leap to start the 2019 season, as he homered twice on Opening Day and was hitting .292/.382/.585 by April 19. Since then? .173/.236/.284.

Neither version is the "real" Hernandez. That's probably something between last year and the sum of this year to date. Given the 118 wRC+ last season and 94 this year, that would make him a somewhat above average hitter, which is what the projections show.

If Hernandez were an everyday player, that would be useful. Despite the 145 games last year, he only had 462 plate appearances, however. He's playing more often this year, having started 37 games and appeared in 43 of Los Angeles' 46. That is somewhat close to full time, but not enough for a struggling borderline asset.

Pickup suggestion: Consider riding the Ronny Rodriguez wave. More on Rodriguez here. His hot hand could expire soon, but there are colder ones to ride for a little while. He offers similar multi-positional eligibility.

Marco Gonzales (SP, SEA)

A couple weeks ago we wrote about Dereck Rodriguez, who was soon sent down. Gonzales is the better pitcher, and won't get sent down any time remotely soon, but he is not without his flaws. One one significant shortcoming he shares with Rodriguez: neither are strikeout guys. Gonzales has a 19.4 career K% which was 21.1% last season, but in 2019 so far he's only fanning 17.0% of batters.

And when you're not a strikeout guy, you have to be pretty good to be a fantasy asset. To some level, Gonzales may seem to fit the description: despite a few bad starts, he holds a 3.65 ERA and 3.85 FIP in 2019. Unfortunately, the other two, more predictive ERA/ERA-comparative metrics aren't as optimistic, as Gonzales has a 5.00 xFIP and 4.86 SIERA this season. Also unfortunate, those bad starts have come recently. He has a 5.94 ERA with just 11 strikeouts in his four starts in May, having lasted only 16 2/3 innings.

To be fair, these cruddy starts have come against four very good offenses (Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Twins). It won't get any easier, however, with his next start at Texas' small ballpark and powerful lineup. Plus, if you're going to roster a starting pitcher as more than a streamer, he needs to have some successes against good offenses, otherwise there's no source of confidence when facing middling or weaker offenses.

The short version of the argument to cut Gonzales, based in part on his lesser strikeout numbers, is that he lacks the upside that makes his downside worthwhile.

Miles Mikolas (SP, STL)

Mikolas is in the same boat as Gonzales: he just doesn't strike out enough batters, and after a successful 2018 the cracks are starting to show in '19. With a 4.36 xFIP and 4.47 SIERA, he's been slightly unlucky to have a 4.88 ERA, but not so unlucky as to justify the 16.0% K rate for fantasy purposes. That represents a decline from the 18.1% that Mikolas posted in 2018. Additionally, batters have only swung and missed at 7.5% of Mikolas' offerings in 2019 after a 9.6% rate last season.

Unlike Gonzales, who had better peripherals than ERA in 2018, Mikolas put up somewhat of a mirage in last season. Despite a 2.83 ERA, he had a 3.67 xFIP and 3.93 SIERA. Even a 3.93 ERA would have been fantasy-valuable on a team like the Cardinals, who gave Mikolas 18 wins (albeit with Mikolas giving them the 2.83 ERA). However, it's a bare minimum that can't withstand a half-run increase as it has in 2019.

Pickup suggestion: To replace either Gonzales or Mikolas, consider Kyle Gibson. AL Central pitchers are good to have because they can attack the division's relatively weak offenses. Unlike the two cut suggestions, Gibson has a sub-four xFIP (3.41) and SIERA (3.77). He's also working on steady gains in K-BB%: 8.8 in 2017 to 12.1 in 2018 to 17.3 this year.

Jason Heyward (OF, CHC)

On April 27, Heyward was hitting .329/.456/.557 with five home runs and four steals, putting him back on the fantasy map for the first time in years. Was it the proverbial dead cat bounce? He's only hitting .141/.197/.254 since then.

Heyward has a lot of history built up, none of it good in even the moderately recent past. He has never been an above average hitter by wRC+ in his Cubs career, which began in 2016. Even though '16 was the worst of it, and he became a league average hitter in 2018, he only hit eight home runs, hardly worth a thing in fantasy.

Heyward has also, of course, had streaks similar to his first month of 2019. For instance, from June 2 to July 3 of last season, he hit .333/.368/.519. It just so happens this year's hot streak came at the beginning of the year.

If you got Heyward early enough to benefit from his hot start, congratulations, but holding on now is overly optimistic based on what Heyward's given fantasy players before.

Pickup suggestion: It's another older player with a poor track record, but Jarrod Dyson might be worth a try. More on Dyson here. If Heyward's start still has you expecting the mid-teens in home runs (despite the eight last year and recent cold spell), Dyson won't do that, but he'll more than make up for it in steals.

 

Watch-Out List

Rougned Odor (2B, TEX)

Nomar Mazara (OF, TEX)

Asdrubal Cabrera (IF, TEX)

Once Elvis Andrus returns from his hamstring injury, the Rangers could have one too many hitters if Willie Calhoun and Hunter Pence continue to succeed. Caution and attention should be the objective for now. All three of Mazara, Odor, and Cabrera have been questionable as fantasy assets so far this season.

Odor has been the Rangers' worst non-catching hitter for most of the year, although he's swung a hot bat lately. Through May 15, he was hitting .146/.221/.272. Just two games have lifted his OPS by more than 100 points to .610. Some owners have cut loose already, but those who haven't might as well hang on for now to see if the three home run surge is mostly real, or if Odor fades again.

Mazara has been a breakout candidate for several years but is off to another subpar year in 2019. Hitting .252/.317/.435 with six home runs barely suffices for fantasy purposes as is. If he loses any playing time, he's toast.

Cabrera may be the riskiest Ranger in the near future. It's close between him and Mazara. He's hitting slightly worse than Mazara at .219/.299/.422. Although he has multi-positional infield eligibility, more useful than an outfielder-only given equal production, he could stand to be at higher risk of lost playing time when Andrus returns. Also, at 33 years old, his struggles could be more meaningful than Mazara's. Careers have ended quicker.

All three players are probably holds for now, but the performance of Calhoun and Pence has to be watched almost as carefully as the performance of these watch-out players themselves. If Calhoun struggles and is selected for a demotion when Andrus returns, the Odor-Mazara-Cabrera trio survives -- assuming they start hitting.

 

Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week This Week Reasoning
Tim Beckham Cut Cut Homered last week but only played in three games, 10 PA, .200/.200/.600
Harrison Bader Cut Cut Even though he homered in his only start this past week, it was his only start
Travis Shaw Cut Cut/Stash Now that he's on the IL he can be stashed if you have the room, but if you don't, no problem
Kyle Freeland Cut Cut 3 ER, 6 IP QS against Boston in last start, but they were all homers; beware
A. J. Minter Cut Cut Still demoted
Jose Leclerc Watch Out Cut He keeps going back and forth, but the fact he was used as an opener suggests regaining the closer role is still a long way off
Sonny Gray Watch Out Cut Mediocre start against the Cubs in last outing and at Milwaukee next; hold if you want but that's a lot of bench-and-see

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