Should you cut Dan Haren and Jesse Chavez loose?


San Francisco Giants starting pitcher

Tim Lincecum

, (55) throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

We are now two months into the baseball season.  We are roughly a third of the way home.  There are some stars who are struggling, and some better performers sitting out on waivers in your standard league wire.  You are in the middle of the pack, and have an itchy trigger finger.  I get it.  We have all been there.  Some of us revisit that place every season.

Just like you can’t go on autopilot if you have a lead, you have to continue to be dilligent if you are in the middle or back of the pack as well.  You have to work the wire to win the league.

But who do you drop?  Nobody wants to be the one that drops a guy that goes on a hot streak.  But at the same time, you can’t afford to just sit there and waste away in the middle of the pack.  You need to do something.  If you can’t find a suitable trade partner, you will have to work the wire for what you need.

I get it that you form a bond with the players that you picked, but fantasy is no place for feelings of nostalgia and loyalty.  Just because Tim Lincecum helped you win a league title a few years ago does not mean you have to keep rolling with him.

Here are some players that can be dropped in standard leagues.  If your league has more than three bench slots, feel free to hang on to these guys.  But in standard leagues, bench slots are usually too important to use on slumping players.  The players listed here are owned in 75 percent or more of ESPN leagues.

This piece will focus on pitchers.  The outfielders and catchers are here.  The corner infielders are here.  The middle infielders are here.

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher

Jesse Chavez

(60) pitches against the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Pitchers:

Dan Haren, Dodgers: After a stellar April, Haren has lost four of his last six starts, and has seen his ERA balloon from 2.84 to 3.50 in the process.  His strikeouts have taken a dive over that period as well.  He has just 18 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.  That said, Haren has not had a real clunker in that span.  He has given up four runs a few times, but never more than that.  Still, his velocity is down, and the home runs are up.  That has caution written all over it, and in standard leagues, you can probably do better.

Ervin Santana, Braves: Santana has given up three runs or more in all but one of his starts since April 25th.  He has also walked at least one in every start this year except for one.  Santana has been stuggling enough that you can do better in a standard league, especially those with start caps, which most have.  Keep him and play matchups if you must, but his inconsistency makes it tough to do that as well.

Marco Estrada, Brewers: Much like Santana, he has given up three runs or more in seven of his last eight starts.  He has also walked seven and hit a batter in his last two starts, so his command seems to be off as well.  His numbers are not worthy of keeping around in standard leagues.

Jesse Chavez, Athletics: The fun part is over, folks.  Chavez has come back to earth some, putting out just one quality start in his last four tries.  He still has not given up more than four runs in a start, but he has been at that threshold three times out of his last six starts, so there is some cause for concern.  There are safer options in standard leagues.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez (left) celebrates with catcher Jeff Mathis (right) after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Try instead:

Zack Wheeler, Mets: After a couple of forgettable starts earlier this month, Wheeler has been outstanding in his last three turns.  In 19.2 innings, he has given up only 12 hits, three walks, and three runs while striking out 23.  He is a must-start tomorrow at San Francisco.

Collin McHugh, Astros: McHugh has given up only seven hits, two walks, no runs, and struck out 13 in his last two starts.  He has been very good at keeping runners off of the basepaths.  In fact, he has a 0,.96 WHIP on the season.  His success may be fleeting.  Teams could figure him out once there are more scouting reports on him, but he is worth rolling with until someone proves that they have figured him out.  His Sunday start against the Twins looks tantalizing.

Henderson Alvarez, Marlins: Remember him?  He’s the guy that no-hit the Tigers in his last start of last season.  Well, Alvarez is at it again.  He has not given up an earned run in 21 spanning three starts.  His last start was particularly dominant.  He shut out the Rays on just 88 pitches!  His Sunday date with the Cubbies looks favorable for him to continue his streak.

Since I don’t really feel like any closer deserves to be dropped in standard leagues, I won’t put anything in here for guys to drop.  But those in danger of losing their jobs are here:

Grant Balfour, Rays: Four straight scoreless appearances have finally got his ERA under 5, and have given him a little more security.  That said, Juan Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) and Jake McGee both have closing experience.  Both of their ERA’s combined still come in at nearly a run better than Balfour.  That seat is still pretty warm…..

Joe Nathan, Tigers: The Detroit Tigers thought they had solved their bullpen woes from last year when they got Nathan and Joba Chamberlain.  Joba has been really good.  Nathan?  Not so much.  His ERA is a bloated 6.86 and his WHIP is nearly 1.5.  How much longer before Joba and his 2.58 ERA swoop in and take the job?  I’m guessing after one more implosion.

Come back tomorrow as we will go over buy low and sell high candidates at each position.