Ottoneu Cold Right Now: April 22, 2024

Cold Right Now (CRN) is a weekly Ottoneu feature focused on players being dropped or who should be dropped in Ottoneu leagues. In this feature we will break down players into three sections:

  1. Roster Cuts: Analysis of players who have been cut in a high percentage of leagues.
  2. Recent Injuries: A look at the implications of recent injuries (not all, just some high-profile ones).
  3. Cold Performers: Players with a low P/G or P/IP in recent weeks.

This article will typically run once per week and will help fantasy managers keep track of players that need to be given extra attention to improve rosters.

Roster Cuts

Matt Wallner, Add% (-) Change (7 days) – 28.1%

It’s been close to a week since Matt Wallner was optioned to AAA. This happened last year too. After going hitless in 11 plate appearances, Wallner was sent back to the minor leagues on April 15th. He was back with the big league squad by the end of May. This season, Wallner performed a little better out of the gates with two hits, one of them a double and one of them a home run, in 33 plate appearances. Still, a .080/.273/.240 slash line won’t cut it in the big leagues, nor will a 53.8% zone contact rate. The league made contact in the zone 85.4% of the time last season, so there’s a clear issue with Wallner’s approach. He did walk at a better-than-average 9.1% in his start to the season, but it’s not as if he’s overly patient as Wallner’s zone swing rate is right in line with the league average. It’s his take rate on “shadow” pitches as defined by statcast where he could improve. That seems like a very difficult thing to do, so for now, keep an eye on his AAA contact rates, how often he gets on base, and if, when he does make contact, he makes hard contact.

Will Smith, Add% (-) Change (7 days) – 17.8%

Will Smith has either walked batters and given up hits or given up hits and then home runs. His per-nine ratios are scary:

K/9: 7.88

BB/9: 5.63

HR/9: 2.25

His four-seam fastball has been getting punished for a .495 wOBA and a .765 slugging percentage. He started using his changeup more often while dropping his slider usage, but the changeup (.500 wOBA, 27.3% Whiff%) has performed significantly worse than the slider (.400 wOBA, 40.9% Whiff%). Almost all of his troubles are being presented by opposite (right) handed batters:

vL: .182 .167 .182

vR: .480 .581 .800

Smith has always had difficulties with lefties and he still can’t get them out with his changeup.

Kenta Maeda, Add% (-) Change (7 days) – 14.7%

Maeda has been inducing soft contact with a splitter that has increased in usage. While the pitch has limited batters to a .192 batting average, it has also been left in the zone for two big mistakes, both resulting in home runs. Mistakes happen, particularly with the splitter, but his fastball, averaging 89.3 MPH, isn’t playing well enough off his splitter or slider. Maeda is showing red flags in the form of increased walk rates, decreased strikeout rates, a poor Stuff+ grade on his fastball, decreased swings outside of the zone, and increased zone contact rates. It’s difficult to see where Maeda may be able to improve and hasn’t displayed anything yet this season that makes him fantasy-relevant.


Robert Stephenson, Add% (-) Change (7 days) – 59.4%

Stephenson will undergo elbow surgery after not appearing in a regular-season game in 2024. Some were hopeful about Stephenson’s save potential during draft season, but the 31-year-old righty reliever won’t return this season.

Tyler Wells, Add% (-) Change (7 days) – 24.7%:

Wells landed on the 15-Day IL with elbow inflammation:

Wells (0-3) gave up a home run in each of his three starts. He lasted six innings in only one start and while his walk rate remains low, he has not had much success striking batters out. Many wonder if Wells is a bullpen arm or a starting pitcher and with John Means (elbow) and Kyle Bradish (elbow) expected back in the rotation soon, Wells may find himself either off the squad or in the pen.

Cold Performers

Cold performers are marked by measuring low P/G or P/IP in the last 14 days.

José Abreu, -1.0 P/G:

For more on Abreu’s early season struggles, look no further than the great Jay Jaffe’s recent assessment:

There’s just no good news to be had in Abreu’s underlying numbers thus far. His swinging strike rate has shot up from a career-low 9.8% in 2022 to 12.1% last year to 15.2% this year, with his strikeout rate skyrocketing from 16.2% to 21.9% to 28% in that same span; his walk rate has plummeted to 4%. When he’s made contact, he hasn’t barreled a single ball and has averaged just 87.1 mph in exit velocity with a 28.1% hard-hit rate. His .154 xSLG doesn’t suggest he’s getting too raw a deal when it comes to his quality of contact, either. Espada recently dropped him to eighth in the batting order and briefly benched him.

Victor Scott II, -0.6 P/G:

Scott was quickly hyped at the start of the season when he made the big-league squad out of camp. Unfortunately, Scott looked overmatched in 65 plate appearances and was optioned to AAA on Sunday. For more information, you should read Ben Clemen’s full assessment of Scott’s debut, but here is a snippet:

We already know about the (lack of) grounders, so a good version of Scott’s offense definitely involves fewer strikeouts and more walks. He’s striking out 22.6% of the time, near league average, and walking only 3.2% of the time. He struck out less frequently and walked more frequently in the minors last year, and we project him to improve on both the rest of the year, but he’ll need to improve by a good amount and also hit more grounders just to get within shouting distance of average offensively.

He’s worth stashing as long as the salary isn’t higher than $2 or $3.

Hunter Brown, -4.2 P/IP:

It may be difficult for fantasy managers, particularly those in roto-leagues, to forgive Brown. His stinker performance on  April 11th against the Royals where he gave up nine earned runs and 11 hits in less than an inning will haunt ratios all season long. If you kept Brown and sat him against the Braves that was a good call. He lasted six innings but gave up two runs off a home run and walked three. However, if you started him against the Nationals because you thought it was a cookie, you were hurt again (4.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB). Brown has raised red flags of all kinds and either doesn’t have control of his fastball or leaves the fastball in the zone for the taking. The Astros have tremendous injury issues right now in their rotation, so Brown may stick around. But, that doesn’t mean you have to keep him on your fantasy team.

DL Hall, -3.7 P/IP:

The Brewers’ experiment with Hall as a starter may be in question after four starts, each with too many walks and too many earned runs. Hall is not getting the strikeouts he needs and is being hit well by both left and right-handed batters. His changeup against righties has shown some flashes of execution, but not with any regularity. His slider is by far his best pitch but he got fewer opportunities to throw it with success when as he faced so many right-handed batters. He hit the IL with a knee injury over the weekend. He seems worth stashing at a low price but certainly deems cutting if his salary is high.

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