Patience or Panic: George Springer, Cedric Mullins, and Marcus Stroman

What should we do with these struggling players?

Welcome back to our Patience or Panic series! We are now officially a quarter of the way through the season, and sample sizes continue to grow steadily. On my teams, especially my 12-teamers, I’m at the point where I’m willing to cut almost anybody if they’re not getting it done, and it seems like there’s little hope of turning it around. If you play in leagues with shallower benches and have teams that you need to turn around right now, I would recommend a similar approach. But if you play in a trading league, always make sure to see if you can get anything in return before outright dropping a guy. With that in mind, here are three players I would be taking a hard look at right now if they were on my rosters.


George Springer, OF, Toronto Blue Jays


Like many of his fellow Blue Jays, Springer has had serious struggles offensively to start the season. His .200/.273/.290 line (66 wRC+) puts him at 11th-worst among qualified hitters entering play on Tuesday. To add insult (illness?) to injury, Springer has missed three of the last four games with illness and was out of the lineup again on Tuesday night before the game was ultimately postponed. Hopefully, the day off gives him enough time to get back into the lineup tomorrow or on Friday after Thursday’s off day.

There has been minimal change in Springer’s approach at the plate. He’s continued to walk more (9.3% this year, 10.1% career) and strikeout less (18% this year, 19.1% career) than most big league hitters thanks to good plate discipline (25.4% O-swing, 75th percentile) and fine contact skills (23.1% Whiff%, 59th percentile). Where Springer has started to fall off is in his ability to hit for power.

This began last year when he posted a 0.147 ISO on 21 HR in 683 PA, but that at least came with a .443 xSLG (.405 actual SLG). This year, his ISO is all the way down to .090 with an xSLG of .349 thanks to five-year lows in ICR (33.3%, 23rd percentile) and FB% (27.6%, 21st percentile). Some are speculating that the Jays’ offseason park changes can help explain their early offensive woes. Springer is doing better on the road (.600 OPS) than at home (.508), but the sample sizes are too small to come to any conclusions there. It is interesting to see Rogers Centre grading as a more pitcher-friendly park in this year’s MLB park factors after ranking in the top 10 for hitters in the three-year rolling factors.

Verdict: Patience. Unless this illness ends up being one where it causes him to lose 10+ pounds and saps Springer of his power even more, I’m willing to wait this one out. I love that Springer is still running (6/6 SB) and sticking with a solid approach at the plate. With almost the entire Blue Jays offense struggling, they don’t have many alternatives to him at the top of the lineup unless Bo Bichette (see Ryan’s recommendation on him last week here!) really turns it on. Due to ballpark changes and a steady decline in contact quality, managers should reduce their expectations when it comes to Springer’s ability to be a big power contributor, but he’s still a potential 20-20 guy who will contribute in runs and have a palatable batting average. Springer and his teammates have also run the gauntlet this year from a scheduling perspective. Only nine of their 41 games so far have come against teams that were below .500 entering Tuesday! This has them comfortably in first in strength of schedule to date.


Cedric Mullins, OF, Baltimore Orioles


Mullins’ story is a fun one, as he dropped switch-hitting before 2021 after multiple unsuccessful big-league stints and was promptly rewarded with a top-10 MVP finish. Since then, however, Mullins has steadily declined offensively, something that has been sad to watch as an Orioles fan. As the team around him has improved drastically, Mullins has gone from the everyday leadoff guy to a platoon bat hitting in the 8-hole. So far this season, he’s slashing .185/.237/.355 (69 wRC+), but it has come with solid counting stats (17 R, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 6 SB).


Cedric Mullins, 2021-2024

I wouldn’t usually include four years’ worth of stats when looking at a player, but I think it provides useful context in this case. It shows just how far Mullins’ 2021 was from his career norm and how his skills have declined since. This year, Mullins has walked less and struck out more than ever before while also making worse contact! His ICR of 28.6% ranks in the 7th percentile and lends credence to the notion that he has not been unlucky so far this season.

Verdict: Panic. Mullins has been especially horrendous in May (.071/.103/.107, 41.4% K%), so I can’t recommend starting him anywhere right now. The bad lineup spot and potential of a platoon limit his upside significantly, so if there is a manager out there willing to buy low based on the counting stats, I would sell unless you can stomach the average downside. He might be a cut in 10-team leagues.
Marcus Stroman, SP, New York Yankees


From a run prevention perspective, Stroman has been fine so far this year, with a 3.80 ERA in 42.2 IP, but we care about more than that for fantasy, and the rest isn’t pretty. Stroman’s surprising struggles with control (11.8% BB% vs 7.1% career) have affected his ability to work deep into games and have left him with an unsightly 1.50 WHIP and only two wins in his first eight starts. Stroman’s velocity is down noticeably on five of his six offerings, with no change to his slider.

Surprisingly, this drop in velo hasn’t affected Stroman’s PLV, which stands at 4.91 this year after 4.87 last year, though it’s worth noting both values are poor. However, it may have affected his approach, as Stroman’s 36.3% Zone% ranks in the first percentile.

Stroman doesn’t have a single pitch that he throws in the zone more than half the time, and only his sinker (45.6%) and cutter (43.6%) land in the zone more than 40% of the time. While throwing more strikes seems like an easy fix, Stroman hasn’t had great contact management skills (43.9% ICR, 18th percentile).

Verdict: Panic. I’m not ringing every alarm bell, but Stroman’s stuff was already fringy, so it concerns me to see him pitching with diminished velocity. After a quick look at his game logs, it’s also not the case that he got off to a slow start but has been gradually throwing harder with each start. I generally fade pitchers like this who pitch to a good ERA but struggle in Ks and WHIP, as they are usually overvalued. Stroman can be dropped in 10- and maybe 12-teamers, but I’d hold onto him in deeper leagues because he pitches for a good team and has a long history of getting outs. Stroman might start to see better results if he stops nibbling, so monitor his walk totals and Zone% in upcoming starts.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

One response to “Patience or Panic: George Springer, Cedric Mullins, and Marcus Stroman”

  1. JS says:

    As a Jays fan it’s pretty weird to see panic about Bichette (the 26 year old) but patience about Springer (the 34 year old).

    April Bichette was understandably confounding, but by the time you guys wrote the Bichette article in May, his HH% and EV% were already increasing, and his HH% & avg EV are in the top 6 in MLB for May. Since the last week of April Bichette was underperforming his expected stats significantly, with lots of hard contact going straight into gloves. He’s currently on a 6 game hit streak and his batted ball profile looks closer to normal in May than it was in April.

    Springer’s offensive output via wRC+ has been declining since 2019 and his power has gone down for the last 3 years.

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