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The Cut List: Week 8 - Time to Let Go? Pitching Special

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 those on the hot seat who are worth holding on to... for now.

Earlier this week, I put out a call on Twitter and Reddit asking for pitchers who you want me to cover in today's Cut List. I wasn't expecting such a huge response with 32 different names mentioned. Firstly, a big thanks from me for your support and responses (even those of you who mentioned hitters). Secondly, there's no way I can cover all 32 in depth. I'll focus on the eight most popularly mentioned names and so as to not make anyone feel left out, I'm still including the other 24 names, but they will have just a couple of sentences about what to do with them and why.

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. We're closing in on the 25% mark for the season already (where's the time gone!?) so those small sample sizes are starting to be a little more meaningful. All stats, position eligibility and rostered rates (taken from Yahoo!) are reflective of when this piece was written.

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

Code Red. Panic Mode - Multiple Mentions

Luis Castillo - SP, Cincinnati Reds - 89% rostered

Castillo has been nothing short of disastrous for fantasy managers this year. Through eight starts, Castillo has a 1-5 record with a 7.71 ERA and 1.79 WHIP. Things were compounded on Thursday when he got blasted in Coors Field to the tune of eight earned runs in 3.2 IP.

His average fastball velocity is down a bit (96.2 MPH in 2021 from 97.4 MPH in 2020) but it's almost identical to his 2019 mark of 96.4 MPH when he had a 3.40 ERA and a 15-8 record from 32 starts, so it's hardly a cause for concern. There are also reasons for optimism when looking at his underlying numbers too. Castillo has a 4.25 xFIP and 4.44 SIERA and while neither are hardly top-12 SP levels, which is where he was drafted, they're still a lot better than his 7.71 ERA.

Castillo's big issue is a lack of strikeouts with a measly 16.3% K% (29 strikeouts in 37.1 IP). If we look at the two most favorable pitchers' counts this season, we can see why Castillo is struggling. He's faced 63 batters with a 1-2 count and has struck out just 19 of them while allowing a .300/.333/.483 slash line. It's even worse when facing hitters with an 0-2 count. He's struck out just 10 of the 38 batters he's faced in such counts and allowed a .342/.342/.526 slash line. Castillo has acknowledged he needs to adjust things to put more hitters away, something he'll get a chance to do against the Giants next week.

Verdict - I understand the concern and while I don't think he'll magically have a Cy Young caliber season the rest of the way, I'm not cutting ties with Castillo yet. We need to recalibrate our expectations but a 2018 type season where he finished with a 4.30 ERA is still possible, albeit not what he was drafted for.

Charlie Morton - SP, Atlanta Braves - 86% rostered

As unlucky as Morton was against the Phillies last Friday (giving up six runs, all unearned in the first inning), he struggled again this week allowing three earned runs in 4.2 IP on seven hits and two walks. That outing raised his ERA on the season to 5.08 while he does have an even 2-2 record.

Morton's underlying numbers do offer hope of a turnaround though as he has a 3.98 xERA. 3.72 xFIP and 3.89 SIERA. He's also limiting hard contact, as shown by his Statcast profile below.

After last year's struggles (4.74 ERA), it's easy to be concerned that at 37 years old, Morton is falling off a cliff performance-wise. But since the start of last season, Morton has a .344 BABIP against him which will help explain why his ERA is 4.91 in that timeframe. His strikeout rate of 25.5% is still above average and while his walk rate of 9.2% is higher than his career mark of 8.4%, it's still around league average.

Verdict - Age concerns aside, Morton has been unlucky and while he won't ever get back to his 2018-19 level (3.09 ERA), a sub-4.00 ERA is still possible this year with a change in fortunes. He's not someone who should be dropped yet. 

Kyle Hendricks - SP, Chicago Cubs - 85% rostered

Hendricks gave his fantasy managers reason for optimism with a seven-inning, one-run performance last Tuesday. That optimism was dashed somewhat last Sunday when facing the Pirates after he gave up six runs (four earned) in five innings. That left his ERA sitting at 6.23 with a 1.67 WHIP and a 2-4 record. He's strangely got massively differing numbers against each of his opponents faced so far as we can see from the table below.

Opponent Starts IP ERA WHIP K
Braves 2 7.2 16.43 2.74 5
Brewers 2 12.0 1.50 1.00 12
Pirates 2 8.0 7.88 2.13 7
Dodgers 1 7.0 1.29 1.14 6

You can't just extract certain starts to make a case for dropping or keeping a player and Hendricks is no exception. And it's not as if Hendricks has dominated weaker opponents only as his 7.88 against the Pirates and good start against the Dodgers will attest to. If we look at his season as a whole, the underlying numbers aren't very promising either. His xERA is 5.96 but like his actual ERA, it is also higher than his xFIP (4.44) and SIERA (4.43).

The reason for such a big difference is the home runs he's allowed. Hendricks has a 28.2% HR/FB ratio which is the highest in the MLB among all pitchers with at least 30.0 IP. Hendricks' batted ball profile does offer another reason as to why he's struggled. He's seen a drop in his groundball rate (47.1% career GB%, 38.8% 2021 GB%) and an increase in his line drive rate (21.7% career LD%, 28.9% 2021 LD%). The home runs will more than likely come down and that will bring his ERA down with it, but he'll need to keep the ball on the ground more to maximize that.

Verdict - Hendricks has me more worried than Castillo and Morton but looking at his numbers, all he really needs to do is keep the ball on the ground and he should be fine. That could be easier said than done. He's due to face the Tigers today and if that's another bad outing, it's completely justifiable to drop him in shallower leagues.

 

Code Orange. Serious Concern - More Than One Mention

Zack Greinke - SP, Houston Astros - 95% rostered

Unlike those who are most worrying fantasy managers, Greinke's underlying numbers aren't too dissimilar from his actual ERA (4.18). His xERA is 3.85, xFIP is 3.99 and SIERA is 4.22. Similar to Hendricks, Greinke isn't a strikeout pitcher but even his K% of 18.7% is way down from his career 22.3% mark. His 5.1% BB% is up on the previous two years but is still in the 84th percentile among all qualified pitchers.

Greinke will always rely on inducing soft contact and this is an example of how that can work against you if balls drop safely or find gaps in the infield. Over the last two years, Greinke has had a .316 BABIP, resulting in a 4.10 ERA. Between 2015-2019, Greinke had a 2.99 ERA and a .269 BABIP. An ERA of ~3.80 is about what we can expect from Greinke by season's end which still keeps Greinke rosterable in all fantasy leagues.

Kenta Maeda - SP, Minnesota Twins - 91% rostered

Maeda has a 2-2 record from his seven outings this year but only has one quality start (6.0 IP and 2 earned runs against the Tigers) and an unsightly 5.08 ERA. He has been unlucky (.327 BABIP, 23.5% HR/FB, 3.99 xFIP and 4.08 SIERA) but his 20.5% K% is a career-low and his fastball velocity is in decline (92.1 MPH in 2019, 91.6 MPH in 2020 and 91.0 MPH in 2021).

His two worst starts of the season came in back-to-back outings (at Cleveland and at Oakland) where Maeda allowed 11 earned runs in 8.2 IP. It's no coincidence that he allowed three homers in both of those games and has allowed just two in his other five starts, which have combined for a 2.88 ERA. As mentioned, you can't just handpick starts to make a case for anyone but if those two bad outings were an aberration Maeda could still end up as an SP2/3 which is where he was drafted.

Dylan Bundy - SP, Los Angeles Angels - 85% rostered

Bundy's poor start to 2021 took another nosedive on Saturday when he gave up seven earned runs in 4.0 IP (one eight hits and two walks) against the Red Sox. That came on the back of a six-run outing (five hits and a walk) over just 3.1 IP against the Dodgers last Saturday. Prior to those two starts, Bundy had a 4.00 ERA from his first six appearances, five of which were quality starts. Yet, he had an 0-3 record due to the Angels' inability to win games.

Despite those struggles, Bundy has a 3.53 xERA, 3.84 xFIP and 3.76 SIERA. He also has a .305 BABIP following Saturday's start. All signs are pointing towards Bundy having improved numbers moving forward. He's due to face the Athletics next weekend and it may be prudent to bench him for that to make sure he can get right. His K% of 24.7% and walk rate of 6.5% are both close to last year's numbers when he put up a 3.29 ERA. There's nothing to suggest Bundy won't right the ship so he's still not droppable.

Dinelson Lamet - SP, San Diego Padres - 84% rostered

The concern about Lamet in fantasy is more to do with his usage than his performance (1.50 ERA). After starting the season on the IL, Lamet made his 2021 debut on April 21 and lasted just two innings before heading to the IL again. Since his return, he's started two games, going just two innings in each. Given it seemed likely he'd need TJS, the fact he's even pitching right now is a minor miracle.

The Padres are intent on slowly building him back up to go deeper into games but the fact his fastball velocity is down and he's throwing more sliders in the last two starts does suggest this might be an ongoing issue throughout the season. If you're rostering Lamet, you need to accept the short starts will continue for some time and it might not be until after the All-Star Break until Lamet can work on a full pitch count. There's still a significant chance he hits the IL again, winds up needing some sort of surgery or ends up in the bullpen so you'll need to decide what your team's needs are before deciding what to do with Lamet.

Lou Trivino - RP, Oakland Athletics - 62% rostered

Trivino has six saves and a 3.48 ERA. He had one disastrous outing against Toronto when he gave up five earned runs on three hits and two walks while retiring just one batter. Outside of that, Trivino has a 1.33 ERA. His 25.0% K% isn't elite but is certainly good enough to be in consideration as a modern-day closer too.

I understand the frustration with his usage as it's clear he's sharing the closer duties with Jake Diekman but there are so few teams using a sole closer now, good relievers in a job share such as Trivino are still plenty valuable. The A's lead the AL West and should win plenty of games this year so ~25 saves for Trivino is very possible and unless we hear anything to suggest he's lost the late innings role, Trivino should be rostered in all leagues that count saves.

 

Code Yellow. On The Fence - Individual Mention

Starting Pitchers only eligibility

Lucas Giolito - SP, Chicago White Sox - 98% rostered

He has a 3.70 xFIP and 3.84 SIERA. His 4.97 ERA is inflated from one horrendous start and one bad start. The 10.0% BB% is an issue but he's not someone you should be dropping. The White Sox should still offer plenty of win opportunities too.

Blake Snell - SP, San Diego Padres - 97% rostered

Snell has only completed five innings in four of his eight starts, which explains his 1-0 record. His K% (30.0%) is in the 82nd percentile, but he's being held back by his 15.2% BB% (9th percentile). I expect him to correct that which should allow him to go deeper into games and become a better fantasy asset. Regardless, you're not dropping him.

Chris Paddack - SP, San Diego Padres - 79% rostered

Paddack had an impressive (albeit short) outing on Saturday, going four innings and giving up just one run. The emphasis here should be on short as he's now managed to get through five innings just three times in seven starts. The Padres look intent on minimizing his workload and with a 21.1% K% and 4.45 ERA, it's hard to garner much fantasy value from Paddack. Unless he starts pitching into the sixth inning and beyond more regularly, he's not really rosterable in shallow leagues.

Patrick Corbin - SP, Washington Nationals - 60% rostered

I was out on Corbin, but his fastball velocity is coming back and he has a 3.00 ERA in his last five starts. He's lined up to face the Cubs and the Reds in his next two starts which will be more telling as to whether he's completely back, but he's definitely worth rostering in all leagues, even if you sit him on the bench to be sure recent performances are legit.

Sixto Sanchez - SP, Miami Marlins - 55% rostered

Sanchez (shoulder) is expected to be back in June and is just starting a throwing program so it'll more than likely be the latter part of June. If you can keep him on your IL spot, continue doing so. If you need it for someone more valuable, drop him but keep in mind that if you drop him, you'll likely have lost him for the season.

German Marquez - SP, Colorado Rockies - 54% rostered

Yes, pitching in Coors Field isn't fun and Marquez's home ERA of 6.07 is a testament to that. His road ERA of 4.60 is hardly top-level stuff though. His 13.0% BB% is a real worry as that will continue leading to more trouble. He's become a matchup dependent streaming option in shallow leagues and close to unstartable in home games in any league size.

Steven Matz - SP, Toronto Blue Jays - 52% rostered

Matz has a 3.54 xFIP and 3.63 SIERA, both of which are better than his 4.29 ERA. Five wins from his eight starts are nice and he's maintaining last year's increased K% (25.6% in 2021). Pitching in Dunedin isn't ideal but Matz is still someone who can be started with confidence for most of his starts and shouldn't be dropped.

Triston McKenzie - SP, Cleveland Indians - 50% rostered

McKenzie had another bad outing on Saturday, allowing five earned runs in 4.1 IP. That outing raised his ERA to 5.79 and sadly, his underlying numbers tell a similar tale of woe. He has a 5.51 xERA, 5.22 xFIP and 5.04 SIERA. It was only his 12th MLB start of his career and he skipped Triple-A so it isn't too surprising he's struggling. In dynasty leagues, you keep him. In redraft leagues, he can be dropped.

Jameson Taillon - SP, New York Yankees - 48% rostered

I know the 5.40 ERA is ugly, but his 3.56 xFIP and 3.10 SIERA hint at better days ahead. Among 119 pitchers with 30+ IP, Taillon's SIERA is actually 14th best. He's got a career-high 30.7% K% which ranks in the 82nd percentile. I'm not dropping Taillon and actually have him as one of my top "buy-low" players right now.

Brady Singer - SP, Kansas City Royals - 47% rostered

Singer hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he's still yet to make 20 MLB starts and never pitched in Triple-A, so bumps in the road are expected. He had a good run of starts but has struggled of late and that will likely be a common theme this year. He's a streaming option in shallow leagues but still rosterable in deeper leagues.

Nate Pearson - SP, Toronto Blue Jays - 29% rostered

Pearson (shoulder) is now hurt and will miss his next scheduled start in the Minors and it's unclear when (or if) he'll be back in the Majors this year. He's droppable in all redraft leagues but worth rostering if you have Minor League spots or deep benches as a stash for later in the season.

Carlos Martinez - SP, St. Louis Cardinals - 22% rostered

While Martinez has looked like a solid starter this year (3-4 record and 4.35 ERA), there's reason to be cautious with him. His xERA is 5.28 and his xFIP (5.23) and SIERA (5.25) all hint at regression. He has a lowly 12.6% K% which is in the 3rd percentile. He's a "sell-high" option as he likely won't be fantasy-relevant for much longer.

Griffin Canning - SP, Los Angeles Angels - 12% rostered

Canning had an 8.40 ERA from his first four outings (three starts) and following Friday's start at Boston, his ERA now sits at 4.78. His last three starts have combined for a 1.59 ERA and included games against the Dodgers and the Red Sox. His 3.81 xFIP and 3.78 SIERA support his recent outings as being legitimate and he's looking very under-rostered right now.

 

Starting and Relief Pitchers eligibility

Freddy Peralta - SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers - 90% rostered

I have no idea why he was included, but do not drop Peralta. His 2.77 ERA is supported by his 1.96 xERA and his 39.4% K% is in the 96th percentile. He looks like a top-20 SP and should be rostered in every league.

Nathan Eovaldi - SP/RP, Boston Red Sox - 69% rostered

The drop in strikeouts (22.0% K% in 2021, 26.1% K% in 2020) is a little disappointing but he has a 4.20 ERA with four wins from his eight starts. His xERA is 3.06, xFIP is 3.40 and SIERA is 3.70 while he has a .318 BABIP. Eovaldi is performing well and as long as he's healthy, should not be dropped.

Jesus Luzardo - SP/RP, Oakland Athletics - 69% rostered

Luzardo (hand) is expected back at the end of May following a video gaming incident that sent him to the IL. When he returns, he'll look to improve on his 5.79 ERA and given his xFIP is 4.47, it's likely he does. But still not to a level where he should be rostered in shallow leagues. In dynasty, he shouldn't be dropped and in deeper redraft leagues, Luzardo can be held on your IL if you don't need the spot for someone else.

Michael Kopech - SP/RP, Chicago White Sox - 67% rostered

Don't expect Kopech to start very often this year (three starts and seven relief appearances), but he's been exceptional this year. His 1.71 ERA and 38.8% K% are both outstanding and even as a multi-inning reliever, is a valuable fantasy asset to have on your rosters this year.

Tejay Antone - SP/RP, Cincinnati Reds - 38% rostered

The Reds bullpen has been mostly dreadful but Antone is one of the few bright spots. Like Kopech, he has value as a multi-inning reliever but he's also notched a save as recently as April 30. He's also picked up a win and has a 36.6% K% to compliment his 2.41 ERA. He entered last night's game in the eighth with the score tied and pitched two clean innings, striking out three before the Reds won it in the 11th. If you partner Antone with Kopech on your roster, you basically have an SP1, so he's definitely someone who should be rostered still, especially as the most reliable reliever in Cincinnati, which should lead to more saves.

Ryan Weathers - SP/RP, San Diego Padres - 33% rostered

Weathers has been used to piggyback Lamet's starts and the results have been great with a 0.81 ERA. He picked up a three-inning save to start the season and has two wins. If he manages to go multiple innings following Lamet, he could pick up some more wins and looks like a valuable reliever in deeper leagues for those looking at for with their ratios with some wins thrown in. A change in his role could alter that but for now, Weathers is a solid pitcher to roster in fantasy.

Jonathan Loaisiga SP/RP, New York Yankees - 23% rostered

Loaisiga has emerged as Chapman's handcuff after securing his second save of the season on Friday. He also has three wins as he continues to get high-leverage work. His 2.49 ERA and solid 23.5% K% should see him maintain that role (which should lead to more wins) and he is another useful reliever in deeper leagues.

 

Relief Pitchers only eligibility

Alex Reyes - RP, St. Louis Cardinals - 86% rostered

This one is easy..... Reyes has 11 saves and a 0.45 ERA with 27 K in 20.0 IP. You're not dropping him and I'm at a loss as to why he's not rostered more. I accept there's an injury history with Reyes but unless he gets hurt, you're not dropping him.

Jake McGee - RP, San Francisco Giants - 83% rostered

In last week's Cut List, I alluded to my concern for McGee. Gabe Kapler had mentioned that Tyler Rogers will get more ninth-inning work. McGee then got three saves but last night gave up the winning runs in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. He also gave up the hit on Friday that allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the ninth having entered with runners on first and third before striking out the next three hitters. He looks like the main ninth-inning guy still, but it may be prudent for you to go add Rogers as insurance.

Rafael Montero - RP, Seattle Mariners - 66% rostered

Montero's season took another downward turn on Tuesday when he allowed three earned runs and took the loss. Concerns about his grip on the closer role were then eased on Friday when he got the final out to seal a 7-3 win and secure his fifth save of the season. Graveman looks like the 'fireman,' being used in big spots and could still get some saves but it appears as though Montero remains at the head of any committee despite his 5.40 ERA. He's still someone to roster for now but another bad outing or two could see him lose any high-leverage work.

Amir Garrett - RP, Cincinnati Reds - 30% rostered

He's been a regular feature on the Cut List and has shown signs of life on the mound with four straight scoreless outings (4.0 IP). He's allowed one hit and two walks in those appearances while striking out six and is slowly repairing his reputation as a dependable reliever. It was quite telling that the Reds used Antone, Lucas Sims and then Heath Hembree in a close game with the Rockies last night, with Hembree ultimately getting the save and keeping his ERA at zero. In the deepest leagues, Garrett is worth rostering to see if he can work his way back into the closer mix but in shallow leagues, he's not worth using a roster spot on.

 

So there you have it, 32 pitchers you have concerns about all summarized and hopefully, some help and guidance provided. Just remember to show patience and use this as a tool, not as the "be all and end all" to your decision-making.



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Sets New Ducks Record With 52 Saves
Dylan Strome2 days ago

Collects Three Points In Friday's Win
Matias Maccelli2 days ago

Extends Scoring Streak With Three-Point Outing
Brady Tkachuk2 days ago

Makes Early Exit Friday
Mason McTavish2 days ago

Sustains Lower-Body Injury Friday
Aaron Jones3 days ago

Discussing Pay Cut With Packers
Mike Evans3 days ago

Plans To Test Out Free Agency
AJ Dillon3 days ago

Unlikely To Return To Green Bay
Mats Zuccarello3 days ago

Fined $2K For Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Timothy Liljegren3 days ago

Questionable For Saturday
Calle Jarnkrok3 days ago

A Possibility Saturday
Shamil Gaziev3 days ago

Looks To Remain Undefeated
Jairzinho Rozenstruik3 days ago

In Dire Need Of Victory
Bekzat Almakhan3 days ago

Set For UFC Debut
Matt Schnell3 days ago

Looks To Get Back In Win Column
Steve Erceg3 days ago

A Favorite At UFC Vegas 87
Umar Nurmagomedov4 days ago

Takes On Newcomer At UFC Vegas 87
Muhammad Mokaev4 days ago

Puts Undefeated Record On The Line At UFC Vegas 87
Alex Perez4 days ago

Finally Ends Layoff At UFC Vegas 87
Tyson Pedro4 days ago

Set For 11th UFC Appearance
Vitor Petrino4 days ago

A Big Favorite At UFC Vegas 87
Doug Ghim5 days ago

Is On An Impressive Run To Start The Florida Swing
Maverick McNealy5 days ago

Is An Intriguing Play At PGA National
Lucas Glover5 days ago

Far From A Must-Play At PGA National
Erik Van Rooyen5 days ago

Can Erik Van Rooyen Keep His Consistency Going In Florida?
Adam Svensson5 days ago

Needs To Find Some Putting Form In Florida
Beau Hossler5 days ago

Looking To Keep The Good Times Rolling In Florida
Denny McCarthy5 days ago

Looking To Heat Up At PGA National
Taylor Montgomery5 days ago

Putting Together Solid Results
Christiaan Bezuidenhout5 days ago

Arrives To Florida In Stellar Form
Luke List5 days ago

On A Mission To Reverse Past Heartbreak
Matthieu Pavon5 days ago

Looking To Widen His Season-Long Lead
Shane Lowry5 days ago

Leaning On Some Positive Florida Vibes
Ryo Hisatsune5 days ago

Heads To Palm Beach Gardens For Debut
Brendon Todd5 days ago

Takes Hot Putter To PGA National
Ben Griffin5 days ago

Loves The Bermuda Grass
Chris Kirk5 days ago

Looks To Defend Title At Cognizant Classic
PGA5 days ago

Alex Noren A Player To Watch At PGA National
Stephan Jaeger5 days ago

Closing In On First Tour Victory
Thorbjorn Olesen5 days ago

A Contender At PGA National
Ryan Fox5 days ago

In For A Tough Week At PGA National
Thomas Detry5 days ago

Trying To Shake Off Rough Event In Mexico
RANKINGS
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1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF

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