Week 17 Cut List: Players on the Chopping Block

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Welcome back to the Cut List. Each weekend from now until the end of the season, I’ll be offering my thoughts on players who don’t deserve to keep drawing a nonexistent salary on your fake baseball teams.

As we go deeper into the season, expect this list to become more ruthless, but also note the widening of scope to include players who may still have trade value in many leagues.

In addition to the players on the Cut List, we'll also spotlight a player on the Hot Seat: Someone whose situation is worth monitoring, even if it’s not time to hit the ejector seat just yet. Without further ado, here are your Week 17 cut or trade candidates.

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The Cut List: Week 17

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

Kinsler was always a long shot to repeat last season’s performance; after all, it’s rare to see someone hit as many home runs as they did in the previous two seasons combined and then repeat that total the next year. Kinsler’s fallen back to his mid-teens pace in the power department, but he’s also lost 40 points of batting average. An increased walk rate hasn’t made up that gap, leaving him on pace for his worst run production in years. Now 35, it might be that 2016 was one last brilliant performance before the decline.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

It took nearly four months, but we have our first repeat appearance on the Cut List. When I first suggested that owners think about parting ways with CarGo six weeks ago, he was hitting .227/.305/.355. Even after a two-hit game on Saturday, he now checks in at .221/.301/.340. Gonzalez has one homer in his last 26 games and has many openly wondered if he’s been playing hurt. That’s preferable to the alternative of “he got old.”

John Lackey, SP, Chicago Cubs

It’s been a down year for everyone in the Cubs’ rotation, but Lackey was always the likeliest to falter in 2017. He’ll turn 39 in October, and his excellent surface stats masked small but significant jumps in his walk and home run rates. The latter has ballooned disastrously, leading to Lackey’s ugly 5.04 ERA. Things aren’t moving in the right direction, either; Lackey has nearly as many homers allowed (nine) as strikeouts (15) in his last six starts. During that time, he has a 4.86 ERA despite a crazy low .214 BABIP.

 

The Hot Seat: Week 17

Steven Matz, SP, New York Mets

Matz has made eight starts since returning from the disabled list. Only three of them have been good, and even in those, he only mustered 12 strikeouts in 21 innings. Matz has been deliberately avoiding throwing sliders in an effort to stay healthy. He clearly misses the pitch. His curve hasn’t had the same bite to it either, and his velocity is down across the board. Add it up and you’ve got an eight-point drop in K%, a home run rate that’s nearly doubled, and plenty of injury risk. In a standard league, you can probably do better.

 

Last Week (Expanded Edition)

Albert Pujols has just five hits in the last two weeks, though two of them left the yard.

Jose Bautista also only has five hits in the last two weeks, with two homers and three doubles.

Marco Estrada has tossed two more stinkers since he featured in this space, and his ERA since the end of May checks in at a cool 9.52. He also has a 2.14 WHIP during that time. The technical term for that is “extremely bad.”

Alex Colome, on the other hand, has been appropriately chastened by his appearance on the Hot Seat. He’s allowed just one run in his last five appearances, converting all four save opportunities received during that time.

Trevor Story collected eight hits (half of the extra-base variety) and eight RBI last week. The reverse jinx worked perfectly!

Matt Kemp homered last Sunday, but has been fairly quiet since. Also worth noting: That home run was his only one in the last month.

Aaron Sanchez had a terrible start against the Red Sox and then went back on the disabled list with blister issues for the 47th time this season. [Actually just the third. Wait, "just" the third? It's late July. You know what, carry on. -Ed.]

Johnny Cueto has not yet returned from his own blister problem. Blisters may now be incurable, perhaps some Egyptians believe.

 

More Week 17 Lineup Prep