It’s easy to makes jokes at the Orioles’ expense. They were expected to be terrible this year and have delivered, taking a 17-39 record into the weekend. The O’s pitching staff is allowing homers at a historic rate and its lineup on any given day can feature a slate of no-names unparalleled across the league. Baltimore is the only team more than 20 games under .500, and while last year’s 47–115 abomination is unlikely to be repeated, another 100-loss campaign is on the horizon. To steal a phrase from Rick Pitino, Manny Machado isn’t walking through that door.
Yet even with Baltimore’s myriad of struggles, the Orioles lineup has still produced a few solid fantasy assets. Trey Mancini is Baltimore’s likely All-Star, and Jonathan Villar remains a worthwhile middle infielder with an attractive power-speed combo. Renato Nuñez has flashed plenty of pop, smacking 13 homers in 207 plate appearances. Baltimore currently 25th in runs per game, ranking closer to passable than putrid. Run production isn’t the root of the Orioles’ problems.
Dwight Smith Jr. joined the crew of Baltimore fantasy assets in April. The 26-year-old lefty slashed .298/.348/.512 in his first 30 games, adding six homers and 22 RBI. His production, however, has cratered of late. He’s homered just once since May 15 and his average has dropped 10 points over the last two weeks. Smith’s hitting .192 with a .564 OPS in his last 15 games, a 3-12 stretch for manager Brandon Hyde and Co. Smith is competing with a deep pool of fantasy outfielders, facing an uphill climb against hitters in quality lineups. His early production warranted a fantasy attention, even with a subpar supporting cast. Yet, as he and Baltimore continue to struggle, it’s advised to dump Smith into the crate of fantasy Droppables.
With that, let’s to the rest of this week’s Droppables.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies
Franco didn’t quite reach his full potential over the first few years of his career, but he hit 20-plus homers each season from 2016-18, posting a solid .780 OPS in 131 games in 2018. With the additions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, Franco had the potential to be an RBI machine, anchoring the final third of Philly’s powerful lineup.
The plan worked beautifully through mid-April. Franco tallied a .630 slugging percentage, 1.104 OPS and six homers in his first 16 games. The Phillies sprinted to a 7–2 record and early lead in the NL East thanks not to Harper or Realmuto, but largely thanks to their fifth-year third baseman.
Franco’s descent since the hot start has been startling. His .287 slugging since April 17 is especially concerning given the 36-game sample, and his recent slump may be closer to his reality than the hot start. Franco hasn’t homered since April 26 and has one RBI in his last 14 games. Even as Philadelphia generates runs at a healthy clip, Franco can’t seem to join the success. Franco’s spot in the lineup is secure, thanks at least in part to his defense, so it’s entirely possible that he’ll put together a few more hot stretches this season. Still, he’s a fantasy liability.
Ross Stripling, SP/RP, Dodgers
This advice should largely be ignored by those in the dynasty crowd because Stripling remains a valuable fantasy asset into 2020 and beyond. But so long as the Dodgers’ rotation holds up, the 2018 All-Star is a man adrift in the fantasy baseball world as the calendar turns to June.
This has nothing to do with performance. Stripling has a 3.43 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 22.5% strikeout rate and 6.9% walk rate in 42 innings. His HR/FB ratio is down to 10.8%, a dip of nearly six percentage points from last year. Yet, he’s mired in middle relief, and his outings are largely meaningless from a fantasy perspective. He’s tossed just eight innings in the Dodgers’ last 25 games, which doesn’t give him enough volume to produce fantasy value with strong rates. Stripling will be a valuable weapon for Dave Roberts in the postseason and he could snag a rotation spot if one of Los Angeles’ veteran arms head to the IL, but fantasy owners can’t justify holding onto him given his current role.
Jose Martinez, 1B/OF, Cardinals
A cursory glance at Martinez’ slash line suggests a must-have fantasy bat. The 30-year-old is hitting .303/.359/.414 with three homers, eight doubles and 21 RBI in 167 plate appearances. Even with the lack of power, his consistency has made him as a solid depth piece in most leagues.
Unfortunately, Martinez once again seemingly finds himself on the outs in St. Louis’ crowded outfield. He’s been on the bench in three straight games, and four of the last five, and while he has made pinch-hitting appearances in all of those games, no hitter can live on stray at-bats alone. With his playing status dodgy at best, he can be let go in most leagues.