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The Cut List (Week 9) - Time to Let Go?

Welcome back to the Cut List. In recent weeks we switched up the format of this article a bit, to cover a larger pool of players and to discuss trends being seen by fantasy baseball managers across a large number of leagues, based on ESPN's 25 most dropped players in the past week.

Injuries have always been an exception to a player being reviewed, and early in the season virus opt-outs were, but now another category of player we might want to skip is showing up a lot on ESPN: those also mass-dropped in prior weeks. Several names from last week or previous weeks are popping up again. However, these players will be covered again instead of skipped, as conditions change all the time.

Stats are thru September 10. Recommendations are for mixed leagues -- redraft, unless otherwise noted, as keeper leagues have their own rules. (As do AL/NL-only, where players rostered this widely are going to have homes.) You can find ideas on how to replace your cut candidates at the Waiver Wire Pickups List and free app.

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Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA)

Lopez certainly played his role in Miami's stunning 29-9 loss on September 9, allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. It was his second bad start in a row, too. That said, his overall season production includes a 3.48 xFIP despite the 4.50 ERA. Unfortunately, the Phillies are up next, and in last year's full sample size season Lopez had just a 4.37 xFIP. The safe play here is to drop, but there are situations where any start in Miami could be worth using, even against the Phillies.

Verdict: Drop in most contexts, but if you need innings and aren't sensitive to ratio floors, consider keeping him around.


Framber Valdez (P, HOU)

Valdez built up a strong resume, especially through mid-August, and has still thrown at least six innings in each of his last seven appearances, four of which have been quality starts. He also has a 3.27 xFIP. But an eight-run start on September 6 against the Angels, which is being followed Saturday September 12 with a start against the Dodgers has led to drops. How he does against LAD will determine what should happen in his last couple starts.

Verdict: Sit against Dodgers, hold if it goes well and drop if poorly.


Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

Winker left the game on Thursday, and as the season is already nearing wrap-up mode, that has been enough impetus to see him dropped in several places. Winker has been interesting for a while, but this year was a breakout, hitting .276/.400/.569 with 10 home runs in 43 games. Statcast is equally impressed; he is 93rd percentile in exit velocity and xwOBA. This is a way of saying you want to wait to hear how severe the injury is before making rash decisions.

Verdict: Hold for now.


Kyle Freeland (SP, COL)

Freeland is the first of a few repeats of last week, even though his start on September 7 was successful, and against a good offense. He starts again tonight the 12th, except this time at Coors, but there's no point in dropping and no time to pick up. No matter how the 12th goes, however, his next start will be the Dodgers at Coors, so there's really nothing exciting going on here.

Verdict: Drop or sit after Angels--don't start vs. the Dodgers.


Asdrubal Cabrera (IF, WAS)

Like Freeland, a repeat. Cabrera was listed as a hold and since then has hit .238/.280/.429 in six games, although he did produce four RBI so it wasn't a total loss. But he's now hit fifth and sixth instead of fourth the past couple games, with an off day preceding it. The positional flexibility is now the only benefit and it doesn't make up for the loss of plate appearances.

Verdict: Drop.


Jordan Montgomery (SP, NYY)

Montgomery hasn't had a good start since August 28 or a win since August 11. His 4.34 xFIP isn't the worst, and it's in line with his 4.44 career mark in 215 innings. However, it's not playable with someone who goes five or more innings so rarely--just three times in seven starts this year.

Verdict: Drop.


Robinson Cano (2B, NYM)

Cano has hit .316/.347/.556 with a Statcast-expected average of .324, but is being dropped after not playing on September 3 and 8 and going just 1-for-21 the last seven days. However, the Mets are visiting Toronto and Philadelphia next, and there is reason to give Cano a little more leash than a one-week slump. However, do watch for more off days and continued struggles; if 1-for-21 becomes something like 3-for-39, then you will drop.

Verdict: Hold/pick up, for now.


Diego Castillo (P, TB)

Castillo picked up three saves from August 26-31...and has none since. He's pitched fine in three appearances since then, but also hasn't pitched since September 6, so it's clear why the drops have started to come in. Castillo has been far less impressive overall than Karinchak (below), with less than half the strikeout rate, so it's not worth keeping Castillo at this point. Of course, given Tampa Bay's unpredictable use of relievers, he may find himself right back in a save situation, but it's not likely at this point.

Verdict: Drop.


Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET)

Since being on the list two weeks ago, Turnbull has started against Milwaukee twice, with one terrible start and one solid one (the latter of which still saw only three K's in six innings). However, those came against a mediocre offense (91 wRC+), and the White Sox with their decidedly not mediocre offense (120) are next. Last week we treated him like a deep league pitcher, and he's certainly no better than that still.

Verdict: Drop, or sit against Chicago at the very least.


James Karinchak (RP, CLE)

Karinchak was on the list last week as well. He allowed two runs in two innings this week, but that's not much to go on, of course. Overall, he should be treated the same way as before: a way to get ratios and strikeouts if you don't need saves.

Verdict: ...A way to get ratios and strikeouts if you don't need saves.


Renato Nunez (1B, BAL)

Nunez was on this list two weeks ago, since when he's hitting just .171 but with four home runs. That makes him a pretty good example of how much categories matter, as does his numbers of a .249 average and 49 home runs in 263 games since 2018. And so this should be a category-based decision.

Verdict: Hold for homers, drop for average.


Evan Longoria (3B, SF)

Longoria hasn't been more than a deep league option for a while now. After missing two days with an injury, he's been back in the lineup batting sixth while going a combined 3-for-8. Given that he has a .290 average on the season, those eight AB's are still enough to suggest that the injury hasn't cost him much. He's been productive enough, and with very good Statcast numbers (.308 xBA, .569 xSLG), that he shouldn't be getting dropped at this rate.

Verdict: Hold, even pick up in 12 teamers with CI.


Adrian Houser (P, MIL)

The fourth and final repeat of last week, when he was considered a deep-league streamer here. Unfortunately, all he got you was strikeouts against Detroit. It's fair enough to give up everywhere now. The Cubs are up next.

Verdict: Drop.


Adam Eaton (OF, WAS)

Eaton got dinged up and missed September 4 and 5, but has hit first or second since then, and hit his fourth home run on September 10. As long as a healthy Eaton is batting at the top of the order, he'll provide something. Unfortunately he still hasn't stolen a base since July, so you can't count on him to provide any more of those this season, and that severely dings his value. Little else has changed for Eaton in September, so he's still a hold in deeper leagues unless you were absolutely banking on him to provide desperately needed steals.

Verdict: Else equal, hold in 12 teams/5 OF and deeper.


Gary Sanchez (C, NYY)

Sanchez has 13 hits all season, and seven of them are home runs. This has given him exactly a .200 average since the beginning of 2018, so he is a drain on that stat at this point. While he catches, there are certainly players at the 2 position who can hit better than .200. But few can hit so many homers. He's a more extreme version of the Nunez case at a scarcer position. In shallow one-catcher leagues, see what's out there.

Verdict: Scour the wire and if you find a replacement you like, go for it, unless you need HR far more than BA at this point.


Other Drops To Consider

This week we'll start giving you players to consider cutting based on team needs.

Home Runs: Mark Canha (OF, OAK)

Canha was a hold last week but now it's been August 19 since his last home run. With not much time remaining in the season, if you need power, you can look elsewhere now. Even when he homered 26 times last year, it came with just 29 Statcast barrels.

Batting Average: Joey Gallo (OF, TEX)

Gallo's .182/.321/.394 line has no doubt been disappointing, even though he's on pace for his lowest-ever K% (which is still 35.1). If batting average is a big stat for you at this point, he's reasonable to drop even in 12 teamers. There hasn't been enough power this season--even by xSLG, just .421--to make up for that shortcoming.

Steals: Ramon Laureano (OF, OAK)

As discussed last week, the Athletics are walking a lot this year; Laureano is no exception with a .227/.356/.394 line. Like Eaton, Laureno was supposed to do more in the steals department than he has. Laureano posted his only one of the year on August 3. Laureano is still viable in leagues shallower than Eaton is, but not by much.

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