Photo credit: By Julie Fennell on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
This post was initially going to be about September callups. It will probably be the last wave of impact players to join the pool of mixed leaguers, so it’s worth considering the likes of Yoan Moncada, Ozzie Albies, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jharel Cotton and Alex Meyer. Each of them may get called up after rosters expand, though none is likely to make an impact in Week 22, or even in the first full week of September games that follows.
Picking any of them up now means you have to stash them. I have already posted two pieces this week recommending players worth stashing, at least for the coming week. Then it occurred to me…where will the room come from to stash all of these players?
For the most part, I haven’t had a hard time finding room for a new player or two in most of my leagues. I’ve let go of Andrew Cashner, who was a hot hand prior to his trade to the Marlins, but he lost the magic somewhere in his cross-country move. I have also been dumping my prospective sources of saves, dropping A.J. Ramos, Raisel Iglesias and Jake Barrett in leagues where I owned them.
As I look to fortify my rosters over the coming days, the decisions will get more difficult. Many owners are already facing tough add/drop dilemmas. On Twitter, I asked owners to submit the names of players they were conflicted about dropping. The following eight players struck me as the ones who created the most difficult conundrums — unproductive enough to warrant serious consideration of a drop, but with enough upside to make a drop potentially painful.
Let’s start with the ones who should definitely be kept.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates: More than three weeks ago, I wrote a piece for CBSSports.com in which I argued that Fantasy owners should give McCutchen more time. If he were to lower his swing rate and make more frequent contact, he could produce on a par with Stephen Piscotty. In the month of August, McCutchen has made both of those changes, and in turn, he has posted a .909 OPS and been roughly as productive in Fantasy as Piscotty. If you’ve waited it out with McCutchen this long, this is hardly the time to give up. You’re just starting to get the good stuff.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Cubs: Fowler has certainly been a disappointment since returning from his hamstring injury in late July, and it’s been pretty ugly of late. Over the last 21 days (including Sunday’s game), Fowler has batted .222 with 3 RBI. Even as a leadoff hitter, Fowler should be able to pick up his RBI pace, and he is also due for some improvement in his BABIP. Given that Fowler still gets on base and leads off for a good offensive team, he is too valuable to toss away on waivers.
Jake Lamb, 3B, Diamondbacks: August has been a really odd month for Lamb. He has been decidedly a pull hitter this season, but suddenly he has been going to the opposite field. Given that he is continuing to make hard contact on more than 40 percent of his hit balls (per FanGraphs) and not striking out at a much higher rate than before, it’s hard to understand why he is batting .186 for the month. If anything, his batting average should be increasing. It would be a mistake to ditch Lamb now.
Now, here are some players you can safely eject from your roster.
Jason Heyward, OF, Cubs: Yes, it’s time to set Heyward free in mixed leagues, if you haven’t done so already. In the second half, he has taken an uncharacteristically pull- and flyball-heavy approach, and all it has done is make things worse.
Miguel Sano, 3B/OF, Twins: If you need home runs in a categories league, there is an argument for keeping Sano around. Otherwise, there is little reason to wait for him to rebound. He has experienced the BABIP regression from 2015 that seemed like a near-certainty, but he is not hitting for quite as much power or walking as much as he did a year ago. In points leagues, there should be superior options available, including Martin Prado, Danny Valencia or David Freese.
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates: Cole was already a borderline case before the reports surfaced of him getting his elbow examined and missing his scheduled start on Monday at the Cubs. Now that Cole has health concerns — and he’s missing out on a two-start week — he is a legitimate option as your odd man out if you are set with pitching depth. Given his elbow woes, it seems unlikely that he will recapture his prior form, assuming that he will even be healthy enough to pitch.
Drew Smyly, SP, Rays: Dumping Smyly may seem like a dubious decision, given that he’s been on something of a roll for six starts, posting a 3.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. However, four of those starts were at home, which along with luck, has probably played a role in the .191 BABIP he has compiled over that stretch. If the Rays’ rotation doesn’t shift going forward, Smyly will get only two more home starts this season, and his road stops will include BABIP-inflating Fenway Park, and the launching pads that are Yankee Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and U.S. Cellular Field.
Salvador Perez, C, Royals: Once again, Perez is shouldering a heavy workload, and once again, he is seeing his production drop in the second half. His hard contact rate has been falling, and that’s a distressing sign for someone who has been striking out much more often this season. If you want to see what Matt Wieters, Mike Zunino or Sandy Leon can do for you in a one-catcher league, you probably won’t have much to lose by dropping Perez.