Tout Table: Keep or Cut?

Leagues without an IL leave fantasy managers with several tough decisions. Leagues played on the National Fantasy Baseball Championship platform use a seven-man reserve with no IL. We asked the Touts what they’d do in NFBC leagues, as well as TGFBI and the EARTH leagues, also played on the NFBC platform.

Keep or Cut? Fernando Tatis, Walker Buehler, Ozzie Albies, Freddy Peralta and Juan Segura.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): I cannot be the only one in limited bench/IR leagues already dealing with multiple injuries along with unvaxxed players getting IL’d when their team travels to Canada. I can’t recall a scoring period I didn’t already have at least 3 guys with the dreaded scarlet red letters next to their name. I can’t imagine carrying long-term injuries, no matter the talent level through what could be August. I’d rather use the roster spot to stream in talent and build what I can rather than hoping for recovery timelines to hold true (which they rarely do.)

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): In leagues with these parameters, I often LOOSELY begin the season affording myself 1 reserve spot for a “stash.” Many times, this is for a highly skilled rookie who’s close to an MLB debut (Oneil Cruz this year; Wander in 2021) but other times it’s for a longer-term injury play (such as Chris Sale). I try to keep that for as along as I can; but sometimes I have to abandon it re: circumstances. But by this time of the year, when there are long-term injuries like the guys above, I’d be cutting and moving on, especially in leagues that I’m competitive in. Just too much value in that extra bench spot. If I had Tatis this year in a league like this, maybe I’d still hold out a little longer if possible even with yesterday’s news. But for the rest; any late-season impact is a low-probability, best-case scenario.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): Let me preface this by saying that Tout Wars unlimited IL spots is great because you already have a pretty short bench and it’s not like you can pick up an IL guy and just stash him away for nothing. You can hold the guys you drafted or purchased with FAAB and not be penalized if the injury bug takes a massive bite out of your ass. Leagues like TGFBI and EARTH Leagues where money is not on the line (charity-based) should allow for IL spots. In high stakes, ok, fine, you want to have people making tough decisions regarding who they keep because there’s a huge prize at the end, but if there’s nothing at stake, you’re penalizing people who get hit hard by injuries. We can talk the “no-trade” stuff another time. As for the specific players, I would hold Walker Buehler and Fernando Tatis as both could be high-impact even if they don’t show up until August or even September. Freddy Peralta, Ozzie Albies and Jean Segura can probably be dropped if you have no IL spots as I believe their potential impact in the final month or two of the regular season is much less.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Honestly? I think they’re all drops. Maybe Albies or Tatis are worth holding if you don’t have other injuries, but to Brent’s point, these stashes add up quickly in no-IL leagues.

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): I think they should all be dropped in mixed leagues with bench constraints. The biggest challenge is finding a bat or arm that is either 1) startable this week or 2) a valuable stash. But if either type is available in FAAB for a reasonable price, I’d rather bulk up than risk being vulnerable when injuries strike your currently healthy players.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): Out of these five, it’s hard to roster any in leagues that have no IL spots. Buehler is an easy cut as it sounds like September is his return date, and he’ll likely be limited when he’s back. Same goes for Peralta. I can maybe see stashing Tatís given his upside but only if the rest of your bench is good. Can make a case for Albies in that situation as well, albeit, a less strong case.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I am stashing Tatis. That’s it. And I have learned this the hard way this season

Tim McLeod (Prospect361.com, @RunTMcP361 ): Cut all of them except Tatis. He’s the only one of those five that has the potential for meaningful AB/IP.

Geoff Pontes (Razzball, @ProspectJesus): Tatis is likely the only stash of this group, the other return dates seem further out, if they return at all during your fantasy season. I’ve had Tatis stashed in a couple of non-IL formats, and if it wasn’t for the SS/OF combination I’m not sure I’d be as interested in doing so. Once pitchers go down with more extended injury timelines, I’m far more likely to cut bait as there will be limitations upon any pitcher’s return.

Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): I made a bet that I had to hold Jean Segura all year. The bet was with Jean Segura, and I’ve managed to negotiate it down to just holding his hand.

AJ Mass (ESPN, @AJMass): Two months? I can’t afford to wait two months if I don’t have the ability to stash a guy. Maybe I’d sit on a catcher, simply because oftentimes zero stats is better than any negative stats from a replacement-level backstop. Beyond that, unless you’re currently in the top spot, you have to move on.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I find it hard to answer this generally. It’s a question of the opportunity costs of holding the injured guy(s), and those answers will vary pretty widely depending on the depth of the league and its reserve/IL setup. And even in an NFBC-style league with seven Reserves and no separate IL, I still have to ask: Which reserve player has to go if I keep the hurt guy? Or which free agent do I not sign if I keep the hurt guy on reserve and use a reserve to replace the hurt guy for the nonce? And how does the free agent stack up versus the reserve player? And finally, based on my expectation of the hurt guy’s return, what’s the opportunity cost of not getting those weeks of production?

Ron Shandler (RonShandler.com, @RonShandler): Just a general comment that I don’t like leagues that penalize you for having bad luck. For some players, you know the injury risk going in, but for the vast majority, you don’t. That said, I’d want to keep all these players because any meaningful playing time in September could mean the difference between a title and also-ran. But acknowledging the artificial roster limitations imposed by leagues of this type – and this question – I’d probably only keep Tatis. But I’m burning in hell if Buehler goes 4-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA in September.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Without IL spots, the first thing to consider is whether you’re seeking to pick up a player and have to decide whether to drop the injured guy. Is the player really worth adding? Is there a potentially better drop option than your injured player? Once you’re concluded it’s the injured player that has to go, then evaluate his value when healthy versus how long he’s expected to be out for. Albies is a top second baseman when healthy, but won’t be expected back until mid-August at the earliest. That means less than two months of production at most, which makes him droppable, but not an automatic. Buehler might be out even longer, so at best, you might get a couple of starts from him. That makes him an easy drop. Segura’s upside isn’t so great, so he’s an easy call to drop. While the Tatis setback is bad news, you have to keep him, as even 2-2 1/2 months of production is likely worth more than whoever you are looking to pick up. Shoulder injuries are scary for pitchers, so even if Peralta returns end of August, he might not be effective or throw enough innings per start to be worth starting. He’s a drop as well.

Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): These are emotional decisions. I sit here and look at this list and objectively say they’re all cuts except Tatis in my book. But I also couldn’t bring myself to cut Tyler Stephenson in my Main Event leageue this past weekend, either. I’ll revisit that this weekend, but I agree with the general consensus that bench spots are very valuable and not to be locked up for 6-8 weeks or more. (It is worth pointing out that the season does go to October 5th. We have about 3.5 months left, so a 7-8 week injury is about half the season.

Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): I think only status is a stash right now and even he is debatable. The pitchers could easily not return and both Segura and Alvie’s are on the 60-Day IL

Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): If I may, having no IL spots is infuriating and actually serves to amplify the luck factor. Multi-week injuries are common and shouldn’t require you to forfeit your investment. I recognize it’s not an actual requirement, but it becomes a practical one as the zeros begin to pile up. When every multi-week injury is effectively a season-ender, at least as far as your fantasy team is concerned, the whole thing feels like an exercise in who stayed the healthiest, which is not what I signed up for. When it comes to IL spots, the more the merrier, I say. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’ll answer the actual question. In terms of how likely to I am to stash them, I would go Tatis, Albies, Peralta, Segura and then Buehler, who I’m not confident will make it back at all.

CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): Many people have agreed with my position that the only one you can continue to hold is Fernando Tatis so I’m gonna take a pivot and talk about Tyler Stephenson. I was stunned to see him cut in 15% of leagues and 75% of leagues didn’t start him. There is no catcher out there in a 2 C league that will outperform Stephenson the rest of the way. I’m taking the zeroes with him at C2 and just streaming other positions to make up the ABs. He’ll be a top priority add for me in any league he’s available.

Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): I agree with everyone above who mentioned that the lack of IL spots serves to increase the luck factor in a league considerably. But if we are talking about an NFBC format where you don’t have IL spots, it’s important to prioritize. So I’ll do my stash/drop below, but before I do, I’d probably only stash one of these players in an NFBC format if I had more than one of them on my team. If I wasn’t stashing anyone else, I’d probably take a chance on any one of them. I’d stash: Tatís (you’ve been doing it for how long already? You always knew it was a long absence so no reason to cut him now), Albies (yes, two-months is a long time, but 2B has been not great and getting him back for Aug/Sept is worth it and seems plausible). I’m more inclined to drop the others. I think Segura is most likely to play again in 2022, but I also think he’ll be easier to get back in FAAB late in August. I just don’t have a lot of confidence that Peralta or Buehler is going to pitch again in 2022.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): Drop everyone except for Tatis Jr. who I’d want to get more information on. It’s always team dependent and whether you have other stashes or IL guys, but I dropped Peralta two weeks ago. The chance that the pitchers come back on time, do so with full health, volume and pitching well is low and rosters spots are valuable. With the hitters, the smaller the sample they return for the greater the variance in performance (good or bad) and the shorter period of time their skill has to play out. This assumes they’re fully healthy when back. For these reasons I generally err on the side of dropping long term injuries.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): It feels as if all but Tatis Jr. could be drops. There are roughly four months left and given most are out for half of that time, unless any of these players are expected to produce 200% of the value of someone on the wire (unlikely), then you’re better off chasing the next thing.

Dr. Roto (FullTime Fantasy, @DrRoto): I have serious doubts that Tatis will return this season. I am not sure I would waste a roster spot in stashing any of them at this point.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): It really depends if I need the reserve spot for a player I’m using. I’m currently holding Tatis in a league that only allows 5 reserves and no dl, and would drop him if I need the spot. I would hold Buehler until I needed the spot, but not the others.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I’m stashing Tatis and dropping all of the others. Tatis has the highest upside and should be back first among this group.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): Stashing injured players limits your flexibility and creates a perpetual state of uncertainty. I try to stay open-minded, but if there are other options for healthy players that will produce then I would typically set free my injured players with no IL slots. I am facing this dilemma for several of these players right now, and Tatis is the only one I would hold onto without question…for now. That is because of his elite talent and the fact that he still could be back by August which would give him two months-worth of production. Buehler and Peralta are extremely risky because pitchers typically need significantly more time to rest, recover and rehab. It is rare that there are not any setbacks, so it is entirely plausible that neither Buehler nor Peralta pitch again this year. Albies is a top-tier second baseman, but there are other options out there to carry you through the final month of the season if indeed he does return by September. That being said, I would hang onto Albies over Segura if given a choice.

Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): A lot depends on team context and where you are in the standings. If you’re fortunate and have avoided a multitude of injuries you might be able to stash one. I have Albies in a league where I am middle of the pack and I am cutting him. The only one of this group I would hold is Tatis.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): It’s obviously dependent on what the rest of your team and particularly your IL looks like. But assuming I already have 2-3 short term injured slots I’m dropping Albies, Buehler and Segura. I’d keep Tatis. Peralta is the one I’m wavering on a little bit. I think he could be back and might give it another week or two, but it’s tough given how important pitching streamers are in this format.

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): With so many esteemed colleagues already chiming in, it’s tough saying anything they did not. Like anything, league context matters. However, Albies, if he can return, will not be running, a source of his value in rotisserie will be removed, so I will be moving on from him. Hitting without a strong base from his foot, puts his average and power at risk as well. Jean Segura will be a drop in this circumstance, which stinks, but at-bats matter in NFBC formats. With no shares of Fernando Tatis Jr,, it’s easy saying I’d drop, but why risk playing this year unless he wants to be a part of the playoffs. Push his timetable back, and hope. I’d hold, but optimism fades with each report. After getting Freddy Peralta on all nine of my teams last year, he was an avoid this year. If he returns, it’s likely as a bulk reliever, so pass. Also, no shares of Buehler, but I’d drop for immediate help on a roster, there’s no reason for the Dodgers to risk his long-term health.

Joe Sheehan (The Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, @joe_sheehan): What’s the saying…”physician, heal thyself”? I’m the guy holding Riley Greene and Anthony Volpe for reasons passing understanding, but I think four of these five guys are easy drops. You’re just not going to get enough playing time from Buehler, Albies, Segura, and Peralta to make up for the missing volume. Tatis is a different issue — he’s a true superstar, he’s probably the first one back from this group, and he’s the one most likely to provide steals. I’m fond of citing Scott Pianowski’s line, “injury optimism is not your friend.” These guys may be back on their current timetables…and they may not.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): It really depends on your specific league (obvious statement alert!) but if I have no IL or very limited IL, I’m dropping all of these guys. The only player that gives me a slight pause it Tatis Jr. You (most likely) knew it was going to be a long time until he contributed and while he did have a setback, he might beat all the others back.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Without IL spots all of these players are droppable. With their returns being the end of August or into September being a real possibility it is tough to roster these players while maintaining a competitive roster. If you have a limited number of IL spots Tatis and Buehler would be the priority stashes due to them having the greatest impact once they return.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I play in leagues where we have 2 IL slots to where I have utilized with beginning of the season players such as Chris Sale. As the season progressed, I’ve experienced several players on the IL and have to determine who to keep and who to drop. I’m all in favor of having IL slots and I like the idea of having it capped. You have to weigh your team against its strengths and weaknesses, along with your league standings.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’m in the all but Tatis crowd, especially since by drafting Fernando Tatis Jr., you’re essentially conceding a reserve spot, so you should have planned accordingly. Let’s wrap up by noting the current NFBC rostership for these players. Not surprisingly, it’s in sync with the Touts replies: Tatis (100% in 12 and 15 team leagues), Buehler (53% in 12, 36% in 15), Albies (50% in 12, 43% in 15), Peralta (37% in 15, 70% in 12) and Segura (15% in 12, 6% in 15).

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