Ottoneu Cold Right Now: April 24, 2023

Much like Hot Right Now, Cold Right Now will be a weekly Ottoneu feature, primarily written by either Chad Young or Lucas Kelly, with a focus on players who are being dropped or who maybe should be dropped in Ottoneu leagues. Hot Right Now will focus on players up for auction, players recently added, and players generally performing well. Cold Right Now will have parallel two of those three sections:

  1. Roster Cuts: Analysis of players with high cut% changes.
  2. Cold Performers: Players with a low P/G or P/IP in recent weeks.

There won’t be a corresponding section to Current Auctions because, well, there is nothing in cuts that correspond to current auctions.

Roster Cuts

Kris Bubic, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 70.83%

In last week’s Hot Right Now, I worried that I would be following up my entry on Kris Bubic with a Cold Right Now entry today. And here we are. With the news that Bubic is having Tommy John Surgery, he’s an easy drop. As intriguing as Bubic was a week ago, he’s still a guy with a rocky track record and a few decent innings. He was worth speculating on when you would learn quickly what he would be, but he’s not worth stashing for 18 months.

Jeffrey Springs, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 33.33%

Like Bubic, Springs is having Tommy John. Unlike Bubic, he is an established high-level performer. But I still think he is a drop when you need the cash. I have a lot more confidence that Springs will be useful when he gets back, but holding him all of this year and likely most or all of next without getting any production just isn’t worth it.

Alex Vesia, Leagues with a Cut – 25.00%

Vesia is a talented reliever who put up excellent rates and a nice big pile of strikeouts last year, finishing with 7.92 P/IP. So far this year he is at 0.06 P/IP. 7.92 is good. 0.06 is not. The Statcast sliders on Baseball Savant are not perfect, but the can sometimes tell a story and this is one of those times:

The velocity is fine, but no one is chasing and the contact is much, much harder. The pitches look the same in terms of movement and velocity, and the pitch mix hasn’t changed, but the results are just a mess. He isn’t an important enough fantasy RP to wait this out – drop him and replace him with someone performing. But keep him on your watchlist – he could easily turn things around quickly.

Cold Performers

Nick Gordon: 49 PA,  .104/.122/.146, -0.62 P/G

Gordon has been a roller coaster for me. The minor league track record didn’t really inspire me; but then he showed last year that he could hit the ball well. Plus, in Ottoneu he is listed as Nick Chad Gordon, and there just aren’t that many Chads readily available to me in Ottoneu.

Gordon is making a lot more contact and getting more pitches in the zone, resulting in a big drop in K-rate and in BB-rate. But the quality of contact is down and so the results have cratered. Now Gordon is barely playing, having made just one start in the last ten days.

Gordon is still on 39.74% of rosters, but that number should be coming down. I cut him off one of my rosters and I see no real reason to sit on him, as it doesn’t look like he’ll even play enough to get out of this funk.

Josh Naylor: 71 PA, .161/.239/.258, 1.88 P/G

Unlike Gordon, Naylor is rostered almost universally, and moving on from him will be much tougher for managers who were high on him pre-season. Managers like me.

But the story with Naylor is pretty straight-forward. His walk rate is up. His strikeout-rate is down. His barrel-rate is up. His .221 wOBA is the worst of his career; his .350 xwOBA is the best of his career. His BABIP is .189. There is no reason to think the results will continue to be that bad when the inputs are so strong. Sunday, even with a lefty on the mound, he was 2-3 with a walk. Maybe that is the start of things turning around?

Regardless, stay the course. If you want to leave him on your bench for a bit, that is fine, but he is going to be in my lineups against RHP.

Luis Robert: 47 PA, .111, .149, .244, 0.65 P/G over the last two weeks

Robert got off to such a strong start but has gone ice cold after that start. As of April 8, he had four HR and looked like an MVP candidate, but he has done nothing since then, hitting just one HR and posting the line above.  Over that time, his plate discipline has stayed the same, he’s been hitting the ball hard, but his BABIP has fallen.

The problem is that his plate discipline numbers have been steadily…not good. Coming up, the concern with Robert was the plate discipline and walking just 2.2% of the time and striking out 26.9% of the time won’t really work. Robert is never going to walk much, but he could easily double that rate while cutting back on the K’s to get back to where he was the last couple of years.

It goes without saying that Robert is not a cut, so the real question is if he is a buy-low or a sell-low, given the below-average line for the season so far. I think it’s more the former. His chase rate looks good and his overall underlying plate discipline numbers seem fine. His big drop-off so far is in contact on pitches outside the zone, which is not generally where he will do his most damage anyway. I think the strikeouts come down if he continues to make the swing/take decisions he is making.

Michael Kopech: 20.2 IP, 0.06 P/IP

Kopech has tantalizing talent, but the performance has not yet been there, and this year is the worst yet. In 2021, he was a decent reliever who got some looks as a starter. In 2022, he was a streamable SP, but not much more. This year? With 14 BB and 14 barrels in 96 batters faced, he’s either handing out free bases or getting crushed in almost 30% of plate appearances. The is not a recipe for success.

When debating whether a struggling performer is a buy-low, or a sell, or a cut, you need to answer two questions: How likely do I think it is that he bounces back; and if he does bounce back, what kind of performance will I get? With Robert, the strikeouts are ugly, which gives some risk to a rebound, but you’re dreaming of elite performance. With Naylor, the underlying numbers are good enough that I am pretty confident he’ll perform.

With Kopech, I don’t love the answer to either question. He isn’t just suffering through a rough stretch – his command has failed him and hitters are teeing off. It is going to take some work to fix that. And even if he does fix that, and he gets back to his 2022 level (4.25 P/IP), that just isn’t anything to get that excited about. So what are you doing waiting on him?

Kopech is rostered in 92.63% of leagues at a median salary of $10 – a price he has never been worth at any point in his career. If you want to suffer with him on your bench for $1-$2, maybe even $3, I get it. But I am cutting (or if someone will take him, trading) at basically any price. Especially if you are paying him $10, $12, $15 or more, you can do better playing the wire with that cash than you can tying it up in Kopech.

A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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1 year ago

Chad — speaking of cold, are you still as high on Vaughn Grissom?