Ottoneu Cold Right Now: May 8, 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

José Quijada, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 50.64%

Sometimes, there just isn’t much to say. Quijada is an okay reliever who was having an okay year, but getting saves, which made him fantasy relevant. Now he is an okay reliever getting Tommy John Surgery and missing more than a year. There is no need to stash him.

Luis Garcia, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 42.95%

Like Quijada, Garcia is undergoing Tommy John Surgery and will be out for a while. That is about where the comparisons end. Garcia has been a consistently solid SP for Ottoneu leagues the last few years. He was at 4.7 P/IP before going down with an injury and had been between 4.52 and 4.93 every year since 2020.

That does not mean you have to hold him on your roster. There is no rush to cut him, but honestly there is no upside in waiting. We know he is gone for a long time. Long enough that he should not have trade value or be a keeper, even if he gets added to the 60-day IL and cap space isn’t an issue for you. Given he is on the 15-day for now, I would move on quickly if you haven’t already.

Tyler Mahle, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 21.47%

I covered a Twins SP in this space last week and given how high I am on Joe Ryan and Pablo López, I very much hope this trend stops here. Mahle, like the last two names, is here because of injury. Like the last two names, he is also going to be out for a while, as he was transferred to the 60-day IL. He can’t be back until July but I wouldn’t expect him back until after the All-Star break. And any time a pitcher is being shut down for four weeks to be re-evaluated later, you run the risk of the next step being another couple of weeks being shut down.

Mahle, however, was pitching pretty well before the injury, posting a career-best walk rate and a nice jump in his K-rate, as well. The 4.37 P/IP don’t look great, but if you throw out a start at Yankee Stadium (and you probably should have sat him for that one), he is at 5.35 P/IP.

I am putting the cut Mahle’s onto my watchlist. I don’t see any need to act aggressively – why give his previous manager the cap relief? But I think he is an intriguing buy low and I would strongly consider starting an auction at 27 days after he was cut to try to get him before his previous manager can bid. Pending, that is, any update on his progress.

Robbie Ray, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 20.83%

Poor Robbie Ray managed to find his way into this list two weeks in a row. You can read about him in last week’s piece.

David Peterson, Leagues with a Cut (7 days) – 20.19%

Peterson got sent down, which will get you cut. Then he got lit up in Triple-A, which will get you double-cut. Despite all the hits and runs and general awfulness, there are actually some reasons for optimism. His xFIP is 3.29 and his SIERA is 3.62. His 18.8% K%-BB% would be top-30 among SP if he had enough innings, alongside Anthony Desclafani and Drew Rasmussen, both of whom have been terrific. His issues seem to stem from an increase in barrel rate, despite no corresponding increase in hard-hit rate or exit velocity.

Prior to his demotion, he was using his four-seamer less, but it was still his go-to pitch, with the sinker and curve getting more usage than last year. His slider remains #2 in his arsenal. He was 67% four-seam/slider and that is down to 53%, but both of those pitches have much higher xwOBAs.

Given his improvements in walk rate and the fact that barrels have increased without an increase in hard-hit balls, I am tempted to believe this is noise and that his xFIP, K%-BB% and SIERA will prove more predictive than his ERA or xERA (which, of course, they should be). If that is the case, he is an interesting buy low when the time comes for him to return.

Cold Performers

Bryan De La Cruz: 37 PA,  .162/.162/.162, -0.34 P/G over his last 10 games

On April 22, De La Cruz went 5-8 with a HR, 3 2B and a walk in a double-header at Cleveland. He had a 137 wRC+ at that point. In the couple of weeks since, he has dropped that wRC+ to 83. His strike-out rate since then is 46.3% and he has walked once, way back in the first game of this cold stretch.

De La Cruz was a popular breakout candidate but it just is not happening. That hot streak was great, but if it is going to come with something this cold you just can’t keep running him out there. He is increasing his chase rate and seeing more curves, changeups and sinkers. That doesn’t seem like a great combination, and it shows in his result.

I still like what De La Cruz brings to the table, but he is going to have to earn his way back to my dinner parties. I am moving on.

Bryson Stott: 42 PA,  .184/.238/.184, 0.74 P/G over his last 10 games

Turns out the .425 BABIP Bryson Stott was carrying into this slump wasn’t sustainable. The good news is, neither is the .194 BABIP during the slump. During this cold spell, while his hard-hit rate is down, he has one of his three barrels, his walk rate is up and his K-rate is way down. If those plate discipline rate changes are legit and stick around, he can start to counteract the value loss he was going to suffer as his BABIP fell.

Even with this recent drop in performance, since the 2022 All-Star break, Stott has a .320 wOBA and a 102 wRC+. That is a just-above-league-average bat and that will play at MI in Ottoneu. He isn’t a star, but a 2B/SS-eligible bat that can put up 4.6-4.8 P/G while playing basically every day is a pretty useful piece. If you have too much money invested in him, you can definitely go ahead and cut for the cash, but he is a solid bench piece.

Tylor Megill: 19.1 IP, 1.62 P/IP over his last four starts

Peterson and Megill go hand-in-hand for me, so if we are covering one here, we should be sure to cover the other. And like his once and future rotation mate, Megill may find himself facing Triple-A hitters before long. Unlike Peterson, Megill’s numbers do not give me hope.

His strikeouts are way down. His walks are way up. His ERA estimators all estimate that his ERA should be very, very bad. His ERA is, in fact, very, very bad. His velocity is down, as well. And I just don’t have the patience for him to work his way back into an MLB-quality starter. Move on and if he is doing better 30 days from now, you can try to pick him up.

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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9 months ago

I imagine the caveat to all of the non-injured players is that if these players cost way too much, cutting would get some of that money back. However, it’s possible that Peterson is only $1-2 depending on when he got scooped up. Do you think it’d be worth stashing him in the minor league spot to see if he can round to 2022 form? He’s always been that guy who needed a chance in previous years, and though his chance hasn’t turned out so well so far, maybe he’d be worth saving for $1-2 instead of having to bid him up to $5-6 if he comes back up all fixed.