by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When is enough really enough? When is the right time to cut bait on a struggling player, despite having previously seen significant potential? There’s no universal answer, so let’s take a look at a few of the players who are disappointing and try to determine if cutting bait would be a prudent decision:
Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – Starting Pitcher
It would appear that his good luck over the past few seasons has finally caught up with him. All you have to do is look at the BABIP to reach that conclusion:
- 2014 – .257
- 2015 – .216
- 2016 – .234
- 2017 – .330
He’s also struggled with a 69.9% strand rate, but the real key is the BABIP coupled with consistent home run problems (1.48 HR/9 ‘17, compared to a career 1.34 mark) and less than impressive control (3.79 BB/9). If he can’t improve in either of those areas, and you can argue that he needs to improve both to be useful, the numbers are going to continue to underwhelm.
With a 31.9% groundball rate and given his history it’s impossible to expect significantly fewer home runs. He has shown better control throughout his career, and he was showing better command early in the season (3.00 BB/9 in April, 1.63 in May). That gives a little bit of hope, but it simply isn’t enough.
Maybe he improves a little bit, but in 12-team mixed leagues (or shallower) feel free to cut bait and move on.
Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – Starting Pitcher
There has always been high hopes for Newcomb, with the caveat that he needs to find his control if he wants to excel. It appeared like he had done that upon reaching the Majors, though things have quickly regressed. After posting a 2.96 BB/9 over 24.1 IP in June he has watched the number balloon to 6.75 in 18.2 IP in July (14 BB over 18.2 IP). The problem is more than one bad start, as he’s now walked 3 or more in his past three outings (including 5 BB his last time out).
It would be easy to chalk things up to a small sample size, but then you look at his minor league marks the past two seasons:
- Double-A (2016, 140.0 IP) – 4.56
- Triple-A (2017, 57.2 IP) – 5.15
It’s an obvious issue, and one that could continue to plague him. The upside is unquestioned, especially with the strikeout stuff, but if you are in a redraft league (or a very short-term keeper) feel free to move on.
Logan Forsythe – Second/Third Baseman – Los Angeles Dodgers
We keep waiting for him to wake up, but it just hasn’t happened as of yet. He’s hitting .244, despite a .336 BABIP and 25.2% line drive rate, as the problems have been his strikeout rate and lack of power.
In regards to strikeouts it’s a bit surprising, as he owns a 26.0% strikeout rate despite a good command of the strike zone (7.2% SwStr%, 18.2% O-Swing%). That does give some hope for improvement, though his 46.2% groundball rate and 7.3% HR/FB don’t give hope in terms of his power. Sure he exploded last season, but his career 9.2% HR/FB leads us to believe the upside isn’t quite there. Without much speed and facing the loss of playing time, it’s getting hard to believe.
In deeper formats he isn’t a must drop, because there’s still a glimmer of hope, but in most leagues his time has run out.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Brooks Baseball
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