Lineup analysis is back with a little twist. After taking last week off, I decided to narrow down these write-ups and focus on the teams with important notes and changes. A lot of teams around the league have settled into consistent lineups that do not impact fantasy baseball. Now instead of having two separate articles, the AL and NL will be combined for the rest of 2022! The five hottest hitters in baseball over the past week have been Eugenio Suarez, Albert Pujols, Jose Ramirez, Lars Nootbaar, and J.T. Realmuto. Check out the news and notes from lineups around the league in the article below!
The Phillies decided to option Darick Hall to AAA this week. Kyle Schwarber has been dealing with a knee injury forcing him to DH most games. Hall was not getting a chance to get everyday lineup time and so the Phillies chose to send him down. I expect Hall to return when rosters expand on September 1, but he holds little fantasy value the rest of the way. The biggest reason for his decline in fantasy value is the impending return of Bryce Harper. Harper hit two home runs in his first rehab game in AAA and looks ready to carry your fantasy team in the playoffs. The Phillies expect Harper to return to the lineup on Friday. Harper’s return will likely shift Alec Bohm back down in the lineup. He has been batting third and playing excellently recently.
With Harper returning and Brandon Marsh not far behind, Matt Vierling could lose his everyday lineup spot. Vierling has been seeing regular playing time in the OF with both players out. With Harper back, Schwarber and Castellanos will be forced to man the corner spots while Marsh is a better defender and likely to occupy the large side of the platoon.
After taking last week off, I have not had a real chance to dive into the Vaughn Grissom implications. The Braves surprised everyone by calling Grissom up and he has been excellent. Across his first 15 games, he has hit three home runs and is batting .382. Obviously, these counting stats are unsustainable, but I am quickly rising on Grissom being an elite fantasy asset for years to come. He has shown an excellent ability to get the ball in the air and pull the ball. This will help him post better than expected home run totals. He has already stolen two bases and has a chance to steal close to 20 over a full season. I think it is possible that Grissom is a .270 with 25 home run and 20 steal type of player with the upside to get even better.
Grissom has been in the lineup playing 2B since being called up. Ozzie Albies is ramping up his baseball activities and seems to be nearing a rehab assignment. Albies could return in the next two weeks which would cause a playing time issue in Atlanta. I am not concerned with Grissom losing playing time as they could opt to keep Albies at DH or even try playing Grissom in the outfield over Rosario, Ozuna, or Grossman. Ozuna has already lost his starting job and is a clear drop candidate in all leagues.
The new-look Nationals have some intriguing players right now. Let’s start with Joey Meneses. Meneses is a 30-year-old rookie who is finally getting his shot in the big leagues. Meneses is getting a chance to play every day and is batting toward the top of the lineup. In just 77 plate appearances he has six home runs and is batting .324. Buying into a 30-year-old breakout is tough to do, but his profile is very intriguing. He has posted excellent barrel percentages, a strong line drive rate, and strong contact numbers. He will not keep hitting home runs at such a high rate, but if you need corner infield help Meneses looks like he can be a great add.
With Luis Garcia on the IL, recently acquired C.J. Abrams is up and playing every day. Earlier this season, I urged fantasy managers to proceed with caution on Abrams and I am sticking by this take. Abrams has continued to look overmatched at the plate in Washington like his time in San Diego. Abrams has the speed and potential to put it all together but holds little to no fantasy value in 2022.
Nick Madrigal has taken over the leadoff spot for the Cubs. Since moving to the top of the lineup, Madrigal is batting .289/.360/.311. Madrigal has always flashed the ability to hit for high average, but the rest of his profile is concerning. He has just a .030 ISO on the season and has yet to hit a home run. Madrigal will only contribute to your fantasy team’s average and runs scored. He holds little value in points leagues as I do not anticipate this power ever developing.
Patrick Wisdom has been dealing with a finger injury. He has returned to the lineup after missing a few games. Since the start of August, he is batting .197/.286/.393. I expect the power to rebound back up to the levels they were before, but Wisdom will never provide a high batting average for your team. Since joining the Cubs, Franmil Reyes is batting .300/.306/.533. The average is unsustainable, but it seems the change of scenery has helped Reyes find his swing. Reyes is a good add for the rest of 2022.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals lineup has added some twists to it over the past two weeks. Lars Nootbaar is on a tear at the plate. Since July 26, Nootbaar is batting .305/.450/.585 and looks like the real deal. Nootbaar has seen his launch angle and barrel percentages increase while also walking over 20% of the time during that stretch. The Cardinals have been rewarding Nootbaar with an everyday lineup spot. He is even batting leadoff against righties. Pick up Nootbaar now if he is still available.
Dylan Carlson has been on the bench four times against righties this week. I am a little confused about what the Cardinals’ plans are with this as Carlson is batting .293 since August 12. Maybe Carlson is battling an injury, but this is worth keeping an eye on. If reports come out that Carlson is not hurt then he is not worth rostering on a short side of a platoon. The resurgence of Albert Pujols has caused Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman to sit against lefties. Both players are stuck in a platoon. Both players still hold fantasy value on the strong side of a platoon.
Alek Thomas has moved back down in the lineup for Arizona. Thomas has been struggling for a while now. Dating back to June 21, Thomas is batting just .227/.273/.330. Perhaps what is most concerning about his recent struggles is that he is 0/3 in stolen base attempts over that period. When he was first called up, I said that Thomas profiles as a better real-life player than a fantasy asset. I continue to believe this and think that he is not too far above replacement level moving forward. The outfielder I am keeping an eye on is Corbin Carroll. There is a possibility he gets called up from AAA before the end of the season and is worth stashing if you have room.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Gavin Lux was scratched on Tuesday with a neck injury. He has yet to return to the lineup. The Dodgers do not believe this will require a trip to the IL, but the situation is worth monitoring. Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor are likely to see their playing time increase if Lux is forced to miss time. Joey Gallo has looked like the Joey Gallo of old batting .257/.381/.629 since joining the team. The strikeouts are still incredibly high, and his average is being fueled by an unsustainable .357 BABIP. The power seems to have returned but if you are buying in, do not expect the average to remain this high. Cody Bellinger continues to hit only home runs as his average since the All-Star Break is .204. He has not recorded a stolen base since July 8th which is further hurting his fantasy value.
San Diego Padres
Juan Soto was scratched on Tuesday with back tightness. The Padres are hopeful he will be ready to return on Friday, but the situation is worth keeping an eye on. With Soto out of the lineup, Wil Myers has gotten a chance to play. Myers has been on the short side of a platoon since the trade deadline. Trent Grisham has been struggling over the past ten days and could lose some playing time to Myers if he does not pick things up.
Brandon Drury’s numbers have taken an extreme turn for the worse since joining the Padres. He is batting just .208/.256/.375 since joining the club. Everyone expected his numbers to take a dip once being traded away from Cincinnati, but not to this extent. Since joining San Diego, Drury has just a .231 BABIP. This number figures to rebound closer to his season-long and career average of .294. I expect Drury to be fine down the stretch, but far from the player he was in the first half.
Early in the week, C.J. Cron was out of the lineup in back-to-back games. Cron has struggled since the break batting just .183/.239/.330 and the Rockies could be looking to give some of their younger players a chance to prove themselves. The lack of recent production combined with his loss of playing time makes Cron a clear drop candidate in fantasy. Elehuris Montero has been seeing the additional playing time at 1B. Montero has been struggling after being red hot at the beginning of August. Montero had an issue with strikeouts before his trade to Colorado’s system. These issues are appearing again as Montero is striking out over 33% of the time while walking under 2%. His fantasy value is contingent on rediscovering his plate discipline.
Kris Bryant remains without a timetable to return. The Rockies are out of a playoff race and remain open to the possibility of Bryant not returning this season. I expect the Rockies to play it safe and avoid rushing Bryant back. With him out, Sam Hilliard has seen most of the playing time as the third outfielder this week. Hilliard has not shown any flashes of figuring out big-league pitching and should not be picked up.
New York Yankees
Due to their recent struggles, the Yankees have made some changes while adding new faces over the past week. Oswaldo Cabrera is with the big-league club and is getting a chance to play every day. Cabrera is likely up due to his defensive versatility as he has played all over the diamond. I do not expect him to be fantasy relevant on offense this season. If the Yankees are looking for offensive talent their best bet is Oswald Peraza. Peraza has been dominating AAA and is rising fast up my top prospect rankings.
Andrew Benintendi has moved up in the lineup in an attempt to spark the offense. Hitting in front of Aaron Judge is a big boost to Benintendi’s run contributions. This lineup change has resulted in D.J. LeMahieu moving down in the order. He could move down even farther now that Stanton is back. Stanton returned from the IL on Thursday. Aaron Hicks’ playing time will become even more scarce with Stanton’s return.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are dealing with more injuries as their playoff chances look bleaker and bleaker. Tommy Pham has been battling a sore back and Eric Hosmer is now on the IL. In addition, Xander Bogaerts is dealing with his own back injury which has forced him to miss a couple of games. Interestingly enough, Bobby Dalbec is being given a chance to play SS. This comes as a big surprise but does not change the fantasy value of Dalbec even if he gains SS eligibility. Bogaerts is not expected to be sidelined for long with his injury and Dalbec has continued to struggle at the plate this year.
Kike Hernandez is back and playing every day. He is no longer batting leadoff for the club though and is batting in the back half of the lineup. Hernandez is batting just .214 and continues to be disappointing for fantasy managers who were hopeful for a breakout in 2022. Hernandez is not worth rostering in any formats.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are starting to get healthy again. Manuel Margot is back and is playing almost every day. Margot was off to an excellent start to the season before suffering a couple of unfortunate injuries. If he is going to have any relevance for fantasy, he is going to need to steal bases. After stealing five in his first 25 games, Margot has not attempted a steal since. The leg injuries he has suffered are clearly still bothering him and because of this, he has no fantasy value. Wander Franco is restarting his rehab assignment with AAA. Franco previously experienced discomfort in his wrist while swinging but appears ready to go again. He could be back with the Rays as early as next week if all goes well. Taylor Walls is most likely to lose his lineup spot when Franco returns.
Brandon Lowe is in a serious platoon right now. He is sitting against all lefties in favor of Yu Chang. This makes no sense to me. Chang is batting .186 off lefties this year and is batting just .228 against them in his career. Lowe is the better player and should find himself in the lineup on a regular basis. Unfortunately, if he remains in this platoon his fantasy ceiling is capped.
The Orioles lineup has not experienced any significant changes yet, but I expect that to change in the next week. There have been rumors swirling that Gunnar Henderson is on the verge of a call-up. I expect Henderson to join the team soon and replace Rougned Odor in the lineup. Henderson is one of the top prospects in baseball and with the Orioles still hanging around the third Wildcard spot, they will likely try to make a late-season push. Henderson should be added in all leagues that he is available before it is too late.
The injury to Aledmys Diaz has allowed Trey Mancini to be a part of the everyday lineup. Since coming to Houston, Mancini found himself on the bench against a lot of righties. This is no longer the case. Mancini has five home runs since joining Houston and is loving playing away from the deep LF in Camden Yards. Mancini should be a valuable contributor to your fantasy team down the stretch.
Kansas City Royals
Vinnie Pasquantino is on the IL with a shoulder strain. The Royals do not seem to think it is anything too serious and he should return in a couple of weeks. With Pasquantino out, Michael Massey has found himself batting in the middle of the lineup. Although Massey has only hit one home run, he should start seeing his luck improve. Massey has a barrel rate over 15% while posting strong exit velocity and pull numbers. Despite this, his HR/FB% is at just 3.4%. I do not see Massey being a superstar, but he should start hitting more home runs and is worth a look in deeper leagues.
The Royals also called up Drew Waters. He has been batting ninth in the lineup recently. Waters came to Kansas City via trade for the 35th overall pick in this year’s draft. Waters has shown flashes of massive power in the minors but was never given a chance in the bigs by Atlanta. I have concerns about Waters’ approach at the plate and his tendency to strike out. I do not think Waters is worth adding, especially batting at the bottom of the Royals’ lineup.
Byron Buxton is back on the IL. He has a hip strain and although it was serious enough to land him on the IL, he is not expected to be out for an extended period. With the Twins’ outfield already thin, Gilberto Celestino and Jake Cave will find themselves in the lineup more often. Neither player is worth rostering in fantasy. Max Kepler has been struggling since coming back from the IL hitting .150/.190/.200. Kepler’s injury was to his toe, so that should not have a long-lasting impact on his swing. Kepler is walking less and barreling the ball up far less frequently. If he cannot correct this, Kepler should be dropped in fantasy leagues.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox continue to make some interesting lineup decisions. Andrew Vaughn has been red hot at the plate but was on the bench for two of three games earlier this week. There is no reason that Vaughn should not be in the lineup every day moving forward. Elvis Andrus is getting a chance to play every day while Tim Anderson is out. Since joining Chicago, Andrus has not shown any improvements at the plate and is not worth adding. Just as Yasmani Grandal was showing signs of life at the plate, he is back on the IL with a knee strain. He will be out for about two weeks.