Who to Consider Cutting Before Week 9

The editors would like me to write a column on fantasy drops this year, and we’ll be bringing it to you every two weeks. But let’s first establish some ground rules.

One size never fits all with this stuff. What might be right for you might not be for some. Season as desired. Outside advice is worth considering, but it’s only a suggestion. At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Make the best decision possible.

In some leagues, you may be able to redeem some of these drops. In other pools it might be difficult or even impossible. You know your league better than an underdog.

OK, let’s go.

Drops to Consider

Patrick Wisdom, SI, Cubs

It’s not shocking news when a player like Wisdom experiences a boom in April and a bust in May. He’s a powerful, high-batting player, the very definition of a volatile roto asset. But the magnitude of Wisdom’s May fade should be noted — he cut .163/.293/.327 with just two home runs and 29 strikeouts. Now that Christopher Morel established, Wisdom is not guaranteed to start every day. In fact, Wisdom has only started in nine of Chicago’s 16 games, and sometimes he ranks as low as seventh or eighth in the lineup.

I don’t mind picking a pop-only player that hurts me on average, but I need something close to full-time playtime. Wisdom no longer offers that.

James Outman, OF, Dodgers

At first glance, Outman looks like one of the roto winners for 2023. He was cheap in the March draft, and so far he’s returned nine homers, five interceptions and an acceptable .245/ .333/.497. And the Dodgers still have a destination offense, even if it’s not quite the thumpers we’ve seen in years past.

Alas, Outman slipped in May, with a crater of .179/.273/.328. With that, the Dodgers don’t consider him an automatic starter — serial handyman Dave Roberts has rested Outman four times in the past two weeks. And the data on the batted ball doesn’t validate Outman either. Statcast says he should have a .214 average and a .388 slugging percentage, steep drops from his current numbers. Outman’s April was a dream, but there’s a legitimate pumpkin patch risk here.

Taylor Ward, OF, Angels

It sounds like an obvious call that most of you might not need to read, but I note that Ward is still listed in 61% of Yahoo leagues, so we’ll push him down the column.

Ward’s base stats speak for the cut – .226/.300/.322 slash, just four homers and a steal. But there’s another problem for Ward these days: Mickey Moniac. Ward and Moniak are basically in a near platoon, with Ward getting the shorter side of the timeshare. It’s an automatic pink slip if you’re trying to sail in a mixed league.

Ward does himself a disservice to the flat, curling 13 strikeouts to zero walks over the past 16 days. Maybe the Angels will accept that he’s closer to a fourth outfielder than someone you can play with on a day-to-day basis.

Taj Bradley, Rays

I didn’t land any Bradley stocks in the spring, and I will openly admit my FOMO on that. He’s a listed prospect, and his swing-and-miss stuff has erupted in the majors. No, a 4.44 ERA doesn’t pay the rent, but he has a 1.15 WHIP and 34 strikeouts to just four walks. Perhaps the ERA is a fluke and is destined to collapse.

All set, the Rays are handling Bradley with care. He has yet to work beyond 5 1/3 innings in each start, which is dangerous play if you’re going for wins. Miraculously, Bradley still won his first three starts, but it’s a tight window to hit. Tampa Bay regularly hooks when Bradley hits the mid-80s in throwing; his high for the year is a modest 86. Later in the season, we’ll likely hear about a possible innings cap for Bradley.

The prudent move with any potential discount, especially if he has some roto respect around your league, is to consider a trade. Bradley’s pedigree and secondary stats could be attractive to one of your rivals. But if you’re in a shallower format and Bradley looks like the member most likely to be cut from your bench, I’ll allow you to pick whatever player you deem necessary at the moment. In these shallower pools, the waiver wire is often your trading partner.

Bradley is ranked fourth in this column for a reason – he’s more of a “consider the downside” player than someone I beat the cut table on. Work with these business circles first.

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