MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 5)

MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 5)

During the season, I'm going to look at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little brash. Especially this early in the season with player evaluations up in the air, some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Hitters

Frank Schwindel (178 NFBC drops, -26% rostered at CBS)

Schwindel appeared out of nowhere in 2021, hitting 13 homers with a .342 average. The 30-year-old couldn't continue the success, hitting .202/.240/.303 this season with two homers. The struggles got him demoted (but called back up because of injuries on the team). 

The adjustment seems to be how pitchers have been attacking him with fewer and fewer fastballs.

Month: Fastball%, SLG

2021

  • Aug: 46%, .635
  • Sep: 43%, .600

2022

During the season, I'm going to look at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little brash. Especially this early in the season with player evaluations up in the air, some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Hitters

Frank Schwindel (178 NFBC drops, -26% rostered at CBS)

Schwindel appeared out of nowhere in 2021, hitting 13 homers with a .342 average. The 30-year-old couldn't continue the success, hitting .202/.240/.303 this season with two homers. The struggles got him demoted (but called back up because of injuries on the team). 

The adjustment seems to be how pitchers have been attacking him with fewer and fewer fastballs.

Month: Fastball%, SLG

2021

  • Aug: 46%, .635
  • Sep: 43%, .600

2022

  • Apr: 42%, .347
  • May: 41%, .185

He has destroyed fastballs. He just can't seem to adjust and Alfonso Rivas (.289/.413/.474 with two homers) was been starting instead. 

Schwindel should not be added until at least he's a lineup regular and he's seeing a decent number of fastballs.  

Jurickson Profar (84 NFBC drops, -16% rostered at CBS)

Well, Profar's first two weeks were fun (.256 .388/.615 with four homers). Since then, he's hitting .147/.266/.279 with one long ball. Being qualified at every position including tight end could not save him from being dropped. 

It seems like he made the worst swing adjustment possible with MLB migrating to the sad boring ball. He decided to start pulling everything (career 42% Pull%, 51% in 2022) and hit everything in the air (career 43% GB%, 34% in 2022). While he has hit a few home runs, a lack of raw power (13% percentile in Statcast Hard Hit%) will keep his total in check. 

Here are the results of every ball hit in the air this season (line drives, fly balls, and pop-ups). 

His new flyball approach might have worked in 2019, but it will not this season. 

Tony Kemp (90 NFBC drops, -3% rostered at CBS)

I was a little surprised to see Kemp on the wire with the A's having nine games this week. I was adding him where possible. 

He's mostly hitting the same, but a .259 BABIP is dragging him down. Most of the struggles have come in May (.467 OPS, .640 OPS in April). I wonder if he's hiding an injury (possibly from this hit-by-pitch).

In almost all league types, I like Kemp as a bench bat to fill in with his second base and outfield eligibility, one who can contribute a few steals. 

Thairo Estrada (75 NFBC drops, -5% rostered at CBS)

He's been a fine fantasy fill-in (.252/.282/.365 with two homers and five steals) with half the San Francisco lineup on the IL. Several players have already returned from the IL (Belt, Wade and Yastrzemski), and more importantly for Estrada, Tommy La Stella is on the way. 

Estrada might already be seeing more time on the bench. On Sunday, he sat against a righty with Mauricio Dubon (.650 OPS) starting at second. 

I think the correct approach, especially in deeper leagues, is to wait to see for sure how the playing time shakes out before moving on. In shallow leagues, he's a fine drop. 

Pitchers

Zach Eflin (108 NFBC drops, -7% rostered at CBS)

Talk about a buying opportunity. He's being dropped because he's on the COVID-IL, he has a 4.50 ERA and got blown up in his last start (4 IP, 5 ER, 3 K and 1 BB vs the Mets). The 4.50 ERA does not show his true talent level, with his ERA estimators ranging from 2.75 to 4.00. The 6.8 K/9 is not ideal but at least he pairs it with a 1.9 BB/9. 

Also, I think there is some upside if he trimmed down to four pitches and dumped the change (7% SwStr%, 10% usage) and slider (6% SwStr%, 8% usage). He's not sexy at all, but consider Eflin a nice bench streamer in almost all formats. 

Elieser Hernandez (97 NFBC drops, -4% rosterd at CBS)

I wanted Hernandez to make it as a starter, but it looks like he'll end up in the bullpen. The strikeouts and walks are workable (8.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9) but he just gives up too many home runs (2.4 HR/9 in 2022, 2.0 for his career). Since he's just a two-pitch guy (fastball-slider at 80% usage), batters are sitting on the fastball and crushing it (1.147 OPS against it).  

Since he's trying to work in an ineffective change, his strikeouts are down (24% K% to 21%). He may get one more start, but he should transition to the bullpen where he can light it up for an inning or two with his fastball-slider combination. 

I would not be surprised if Edward Cabrera or Max Meyer got promoted to take Hernandez's spot in the rotation. 

Dylan Bundy (193 NFBC drops, -4% rostered at CBS)

Bundy was lights out during his first three games with a 0.59 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 7.0 K/9. And then in his last two starts, he at 13.97 ERA, 2.28 WHIP and 9.3 K/9. On the season, his ERA estimators are at 4.00 or lower. 

While his xFIP is at 3.50, he's routinely been unable to post a low home run rate (1.6 HR/9 for his career). And with his fastball down 1.7 mph to 89 mph, he is way too hittable to assume league average batted-ball rates.

One change I did notice in his last two starts is that he moved away from his splitter (19% to 14% ) and started throwing his sinker (8% to 16%) more. His splitter (15% GB%, 67% GB%) is a superior pitch compared to the sinker (7% GB%, 54% GB%), and I'm not sure why the change. Additionally, he needs to quit violating the Yu Darvish Rule, and just dump the curve (5% SwStr%, 10% usage). 

With the velocity loss, Bundy is, at best, a league-average pitcher. I see him as someone to stream against weak opponents in large ballparks. 

Relievers

Matt Barnes (135 NFBC drops, -13% rostership at CBS)/Hansel Robles (106 NFBC drops, -6% rostership at CBS)

The Red Sox's bullpen has been a complete dumpster fire. It has a 4.14 ERA and the Red Sox are the only team with more blown saves (8) than saves (6). Barnes (7.84 ERA) and Robles (2 BS, 1 L) have been major contributors to the mess and have the lowest K-BB% among all of Boston's relievers

Neither one is the answer to the bullpen woes, but the team will continue trying to win games, so someone should eventually take over the ninth inning. Of the available in-house candidates, two potential options stick out: Matt Strahm and Ryan Brasier.

While Strahm is the better pitcher of the two, he might not get the job because he's a lefty. So far this season, Strahm has a 2.45 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 9.0 K/9. The biggest key is that he doesn't have a blown save yet while getting three holds. 

Brasier has not performed as well. He has a 3.97 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 while giving up a few too many home runs (1.6 HR/9). Braiser does have four holds but also a blown save. 

Both are improvements over Barnes and Robles. While it may be ugly for a couple more weeks, making the correct informed guess now could really pay off. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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