Bettings
article featured image background
Article preview

Drops & Disasters: Fantasy Baseball Roster Moves (4/7)

MLB Fantasy

Authors

Share
Contents
Close

With the first full week of MLB games completed, and many crushing injuries to address, this should be a busy FAAB weekend. Fantasy managers will be evaluating potential acquisitions, ranking targets within FAAB strings and deciding how much to bid on each player. While doing so, managers would be advised to give due consideration to the drop side of each potential transaction. Drop decisions should never be made lightly or emotionally. As a reminder, in my introductory article, I discussed many of the factors managers should consider for potential drops.

 

There are at least four major motivations for dropping a player. First, the player is injured or in the minors and the roster spot can be used more effectively than stashing the unavailable player. Whether to hold or drop an inactive player – particularly a strong one who costs plenty of draft capital – is one of the toughest decisions for fantasy managers. More on that dilemma below. Second, the player’s role has changed for the worse. For instance, a hitter could fall into a platoon or bench role and a pitcher could lose his rotation spot or closer role. Managers in this position have to evaluate how likely – and how soon – the player may regain his former role. Third, the player’s performance is disappointing and there are alternatives available in FAAB that the manager likes better. At this point in the season, managers need to decide whether or not it is premature to drop a player they liked a short time ago based on performance in a small sample. Finally, the player is not strong enough in the “right” categories and the manager needs to prioritize other categories by rostering a different player. While this motivation is very team- and league-dependent, it really should not be a consideration at this time (and, if managers are contemplating such a move, they are encouraged to back slowly away from their league standings pages).

Players who should at least be considered as potential drops are set forth below in the following two tables – the first includes hitters and the second includes pitchers. In addition to the player’s name, team and position, the tables include the player’s ownership percentage in the premier 15- and 12-team contests: the NFBC’s Main Event and Online Championship, respectively. Finally, the tables list my rankings as to how strongly – or not – I feel each particular player should be dropped in the 15-team and 12-team formats.  The key to these rankings, from 0-4, is as follows:

  • 0 = Do not drop
  • 1 = Team context dependent; probably should not be dropped on most teams
  • 2 = Team context dependent; compelling arguments to drop and not drop
  • 3 = Team context dependent; probably should be dropped on most teams
  • 4 = Drop

Potential Hitter Drops

Name Team Position Roster% (15tm) 15tm Drop? Roster% (12tm) 12tm Drop?
Josh Jung TEX 3B 100% 2 100% 4
Esteury Ruiz OAK OF 100% 3 100% 3.5
Junior Caminero TB 3B 67% 2 67% 2.5
Luis Rengifo LAA 2B/3B/SS/OF 98% 1 87% 3.5
Anthony Rendon LAA 3B 72% 1 5% 3
Kris Bryant COL OF 100% 1 95% 3
Austin Hays BAL OF 100% 2 51% 4
Gary Sánchez MIL C 79% 2 28% 4
Matt Wallner MIN OF 93% 3 32% 4
Trevor Story BOS SS 100% 2 100% 3.5

One of the toughest drop calls is when a key player suffers a serious injury and is looking at an extended absence. I am dealing with this now with Josh Jung and have spent most of the week flip-flopping on whether or not to drop him. As I finish this column, I’m still wavering. Jung was hit by a pitch this week and broke his wrist. After announcing an initial estimated recovery time of six weeks, the Rangers modified that estimate post-surgery to 8-10 weeks, citing more extensive damage than first believed. For 12-team leagues, I think that’s too long to stash an injured player other than, possibly, someone drafted in the first few rounds. There still are a number of decent third base options available in Online Championship leagues that, while not Jung’s equal, are at least solid replacements.

In 15-team leagues, I think dropping Jung is a tougher call. On one hand, Jung is a very good player who hits in the middle of one of baseball’s best lineups. While my initial lean was to drop him, I started wavering when evaluating the paucity of appealing third basemen available in FAAB this week. While I have no expectations of acquiring anyone comparable to Jung, I’d feel more comfortable dropping him if there was at least a decent replacement available. On the other hand, 10 weeks is a very long time, and if stashing Jung, there is no guarantee he will be activated and back to peak performance within that estimated period. Additionally, the seven bench spots in NFBC leagues are precious, and if holding Jung, that limits a manager’s ability to stash other players, such as injured pitchers and closer specs. I see both sides to this dilemma and can see managers utilizing limited FAAB strings to try to replace Jung and holding onto him (if failing to acquire their primary targets).

Esteury Ruiz is another interesting hold/drop call. Ruiz surprisingly was demoted to Triple-A after just five games. Ruiz is not an especially good hitter or fielder, and his standing with the A’s appears clear given: (1) The decision to demote him was prompted by the opportunity to add Tyler Nevin, who has 5 HR and a .203 average in 108 games played since 2021; and (2) The disclosure that Ruiz only made the team out of spring training due to an injury to Miguel Andujar. Given this context, a mediocre player like Ruiz should be an easy drop in all formats. The problem, however, is that many managers drafted Ruiz counting on outsized contributions in the stolen base category, and those SBs will be very challenging to replace in FAAB. Thus, while I think Ruiz probably can be dropped this week, I suspect that most fantasy managers rostering him are very light in stolen bases without Ruiz and will at least consider holding in the hope that, due to injury or other reason, he is recalled soon and stealing bases in bunches like last season. I am skeptical this will happen any time soon, but you never know.

Junior Caminero is on the potential drop list after suffering a quad injury and being placed on the minor league IL. The injury reportedly is minor, however, and so a relatively short absence should not materially alter the case for stashing the top prospect. Caminero looks like the real deal, but there is no way of knowing for sure when the Rays are going to promote him. Fantasy managers willing to assume the risk of what could be an extended wait should not rush to cut Caminero due to a relatively minor injury. But for managers on the fence, the injury may be enough to persuade them to cut the cord now.

Fantasy managers with Luis Rengifo should start considering potential exit strategies. Rengifo has seemingly unlimited positional eligibility, but the new Angels manager, Ron Washington, is limiting Rengifo’s playing time. One potential saving grace for Rengifo’s fantasy managers is that Anthony Rendon seems overdue for a trip to the IL, which would open up everyday playing time. In 15-team formats especially, I would give it another week or two to see if Rengifo’s playing time increases.

Speaking of Rendon, he and Kris Bryant look washed-up early on. I would be slightly more patient with Bryant, as he at least gets to play his home games at Coors Field. I usually am reluctant to drop a player this early in the season due to poor performance – all players experience slumps and the season is very young – but Rendon and Bryant do not look good early. Before dropping either player, however, remember that Bryant hits in the middle of the Rockies lineup and may gain first base eligibility relatively soon, and Rendon currently is the Angels leadoff hitter, and compelling alternatives at third base appear in short supply in 15-team leagues.  Again, I’d try to be patient for a little longer in 15-team leagues unless a clearly superior alternative is available in FAAB. In 12-team leagues, I strongly suspect that multiple such alternatives exist today.

Fantasy managers should be monitoring Gary Sánchez and Matt Wallner, neither of whom are playing as much or as well as anticipated. Both players are capable of explosive performances over short stretches but can be upgraded in FAAB. Waiting indefinitely for a hot streak may not be in managers’ best interests.

Finally, Trevor Story suffered a separated shoulder and has been placed on the IL. He will undergo a more extensive medical exam on Monday and surgery may be needed. Story’s injury has been described as “significant,” and he could be looking at an extended absence. While I think dropping Story now is justifiable, especially in 12-team leagues, in some cases I’d be inclined to wait a week to learn the full extent of his injury and likely recovery time. Compelling arguments for dropping Story now include: (1) The roster spot is needed this week; and (2) An attractive replacement is available in FAAB this week and is unlikely to be there next week. If we discover today that the minimum recovery time for Story is several months or longer, then I would drop today in 12- and 15-team formats.

Potential Pitcher Drops

Name Team Position Roster% (15tm) 15tm Drop? Roster% (12tm) 12tm Drop?
Tylor Megill NYM SP 68% 3 20% 4
Shane Baz TB SP 95% 2 60% 4
Eury Pérez MIA SP 100% 4 99% 4
Alex Lange DET RP 77% 2.5 71% 4
Justin Lawrence COL RP 97% 1.5 61% 3
Michael Soroka CWS SP 61% 2 20% 4
Ryne Nelson ARI SP 91% 2 24% 4
Alex Cobb SF SP 100% 2 20% 4
Spencer Strider ATL SP 100% 0 100% 0.5
Shane Bieber CLE SP 100% 4 100% 4
JP Sears OAK SP 91% 2.5 36% 4

The fantasy world was rocked this week with the news that Eury Pérez and Shane Bieber would require season-ending Tommy John surgery, and Spencer Strider suffered damage to his ulnar collateral ligament and will be further evaluated – with surgery also a possible outcome. Perez and Bieber will be out until sometime during the 2025 season and are easy drops in all formats. Strider is looking at an extended absence, but given his fantasy value when healthy, I think fantasy managers should attempt to hold him for another week until more information is known about this condition, and if/when he may return. Strider simply is too good to drop without knowing the full extent of his injury and recovery time.

Alex Lange picked up his first save of the season but appears to be the third in line in the Tigers bullpen behind Jason Foley and Shelby Miller. While I can see Lange getting future save opportunities when circumstances present themselves, I am not sure that Detroit’s pecking order is likely to change soon, raising the question of whether Lange represents a fantasy manager’s best possible saves speculation. In most leagues, managers can do better.

Justin Lawrence currently is a closer, but at what price do you pay for saves? Lawrence reminded fantasy managers, including myself, of the dangers of rostering any Rockies pitcher with an absolutely disastrous appearance on Friday (0.1 inning, 5 hits, 4 earned runs). The Rockies are not likely to generate many saves, and Lawrence is no lock to hold the role all season. If lacking two other closers, I can see holding Lawrence (and your nose) in the hopes of much-needed saves. For managers with two or more other closers, I am not sure that the saves Lawrence may secure are worth the potential ratio damage.

Tylor Megill is on the IL with a shoulder injury. In my opinion, he only is a marginal fantasy asset, and so I question whether he is worth holding through his recovery. Megill is oft-injured, and his 4.70 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 126.1 innings last season is not the type of profile usually worthy of an injury stash.

Alex Cobb also is injured. Recovering from off-season hip surgery, he had been ahead of schedule, prompting fantasy managers to invest draft capital in him. This week, however, it was reported that Cobb’s return was being delayed by a moderate flexor strain. Cobb’s situation highlights the dangers of stashing injured players – recovery times can be delayed by setbacks. Speaking of which, I am growing increasingly skeptical that Shane Baz will ever become the pitcher we want him to be. While continuing his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Baz suffered a setback, incurring an oblique injury that likely will further delay his return. Given the already-rocky state of starting pitching, I do understand the appeal of Baz – at least in 15-team formats – but fantasy managers not prepared to be extremely patient waiting for him should consider cutting the cord now.

Finally, I want to highlight several pitchers who fantasy managers should be monitoring for potential upgrades. Mike Soroka pitched 11 innings over two starts, and his 4.91 ERA and 1.45 WHIP is not terrible considering the very small sample. While I struggle to understand the appeal of Soroka, what has me especially concerned is that he has just two strikeouts in 11 innings. Such lack of dominance does not play in today’s fantasy game.

Ryne Nelson of the Diamondbacks also looked terrible in his first start against the Yankees. I am not rushing to drop any pitcher after one bad start but do question whether Nelson is fantasy relevant in 12- and 15-team formats. Yes, Nelson looked improved in spring training, but this is a player who pitched to a 5.31 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 144 innings last season, and his underlying metrics indicate that such results were deserved. It also is tough to see Nelson remaining in the Diamondbacks rotation once Jordan Montgomery and Eduardo Rodriguez are ready to be activated.

JP Sears is another pitcher who fantasy managers may want to move on from at the earliest opportunity. Wins will be rare occurrences pitching for Oakland but, like Soroka, Sears’ early lack of dominance has me looking elsewhere. In 2023, Sears had 161 strikeouts in 171.2 innings and provided decent ratios when utilizing him prudently. Thus far in 2024, Sears has struggled mightily in two decent matchups and only has two strikeouts in 9.1 innings pitched.

Potential Disaster Starts

Set forth in the table below are starting pitchers I believe have real disaster potential for the coming week. In order to make this section of the column as actionable as possible, pitchers who are sparsely rostered have been excluded. Instead, I am going to challenge myself by focusing solely on pitchers who are at least 90% rostered in the Main Event or at least 60% rostered in the Online Championship. The pitchers are ranked from 1 to 10 for disaster potential in the coming week, with the highest numbers reflecting pitchers I am highly unlikely to start and who strike me as the biggest potential disasters.

Pitcher Team Matchup #1 Matchup # 2 Disaster Level Notes
A.J. Puk MIA @ NYY   8

Struggled badly in home starts v PIT & LAA; tougher opponent; 9 BB in 6 IP

 

Chris Paddack MIN v LAD @ DET 7

Did not look good @ MIL; LAD much tougher; could recover @ DET

 

Luis Severino NYM @ ATL   7.5

Surprised me by rebounding with strong start @ CIN; doubling down on him given matchup

 

Andrew Heaney TEX v HOU @ HOU 5.5

Solid first start but do not like facing HOU twice in same week; should provide Ks at least

 

Trevor Rogers MIA v ATL   7

Like the pitcher, hate the matchup; think it best to sit this one out if possible

 

JP Sears OAK @ TEX   9.5

Struggled v CLE & @ DET and now steps up in class; 2 K in 9.1 IP provides no comfort

 

Lance Lynn STL v PHI   5

Giving up a lot of hits, and hard contact, early; not sure the strikeouts are worth it

 

My first attempt at predicting disasters was mixed. Heading into today’s games, my selections last week made nine starts and compiled the following fantasy stats over 45.2 innings: 2 wins, 48 strikeouts, 4.53 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. I nailed disastrous starts by A.J. Puk and Ryne Nelson (who faces the Braves today and likely will make my weekly total look better). Brandon Pfaadt, Jordan Wicks and Keaton Winn combined for four starts that produced no wins and middling ratios. Tylor Megill avoided what could have been his disastrous start by landing on the IL. Still, I’m disappointed in my selections, as they included three strong starts by Garrett Crochet, Frankie Montas and Luis Severino. While I purposely am limiting myself to widely-rostered pitchers to make this component of the column both challenging and actionable, I think I was a little too aggressive including Crochet and Montas on my disasters list and also failed to consider the advantage that cold weather games can provide to pitchers (which is no excuse because it is our job to consider such things in making start/sit decisions). Undeterred, I am optimistic that this week’s selections will be more disastrous.

Previous Best Ball ADP Changes: Everyone Impacted by the Stefon Diggs Trade Next Is Justin Herbert a QB Value in Best Ball Right Now?