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Combined Lineup Analysis 09/02: Prospects Galore!

For most standard leagues, the fantasy baseball playoffs start next week! This is the point that you have been working hard to get to all season! Just because the season is almost over, does not mean that there are not still opportunities to improve your team. Prospects are being called up left and right and this article dives into the important notes from each lineup around the league! The fiver hottest hitters in baseball over the past week have been Mookie Betts, Salvador Perez, Nick Pratto, Kolten Wong, and Yandy Diaz. Check out the rest of the article to learn more about the latest lineup trends!

NL East

New York Mets

The Mets have faced a lot of lefties over the past week. This has resulted in less playing time for Daniel Vogelbach and more playing time for Darin Ruf. These two will continue to platoon the rest of the season. Vogelbach holds more fantasy value being on the strong side of the platoon. Brett Baty has a torn UCL in his thumb and will be out for the remainder of the 2022 season. The Mets have already come out and said that they do not expect another top prospect, Mark Vientos, to be called up as a replacement for Baty. The Mets do not have an obvious replacement for Baty at third base with Guillorme still injured.

Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to power through knee injuries. He missed a couple of games early in the week but returned to the lineup on Wednesday. When asked about the pain in his knee, he said that the pain is “terrible”. This is not encouraging for fantasy managers, but Acuna expects to fight through the pain for the rest of 2022. With the other outfield options available for Atlanta, Acuna could receive more maintenance days to keep him healthy for the playoffs. Acuna could also be the DH which forces Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras back into a timeshare.

Ozzie Albies began a rehab assignment on Thursday. Albies could rejoin Atlanta as early as the end of next week and figures to slot back into the middle of the lineup. Vaughn Grissom is versatile enough that I do not expect him to lose too much playing time. Grissom can play any infield position as long as outfield and I expect the Braves to continue giving him everyday playing time even when Albies returns.

Washington Nationals

Both C.J. Abrams and Luis Garcia are now healthy and with the big-league team. The Nationals have high expectations for both players. Garcia has been batting at the top of the lineup, while Abrams has been batting in the back half. Garcia holds more 2022 value and I believe is the better player overall. Abrams has more upside and his progress this season is worth monitoring. Cesar Hernandez has lost his everyday lineup spot as the Nationals evaluate their young talent. Ildemaro Vargas has taken over the everyday 3B role. He is not worth adding in fantasy. Hernandez got the start at third on Thursday and could see more playing time there moving forward.

Miami Marlins

With the playoffs out of reach, the Marlins are shifting their focus toward the future. They designated Jesus Aguilar for assignment which helps create more room in the lineup. Peyton Burdick and J.J. Bleday are getting regular playing time, but not worth adding for fantasy purposes. Jon Berti left the game on Wednesday with an injury. He had been batting at the top of Miami’s lineup. The severity of the injury is still unknown and worth monitoring.

NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates

Oneil Cruz has been on a tear over the past week. He crushed the pitching of Milwaukee and is getting a chance to lead off in Pittsburgh’s lineup. The superstar potential in Cruz is clear. Hopefully, this is a sign of him adjusting to how big-league pitchers attack him. Cruz has some of the best raw power in the game but is still striking out well over 30% of the time. He continues to be more of a dynasty asset than one for 2022. Jack Suwinski is back in the majors. Suwinski flashed potential during his early season call-up but is not worth adding at this point for 2022. He should see regular playing time batting in the back half of the lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals

Not enough can be said about the tear Lars Nootbaar continues to be on. Even when he does not start games he has continued coming in and performing off the bench. He has been an on-base machine while producing consistent power. He has solidified himself as the leadoff hitter in the Cardinals lineup. Dylan Carlson has officially lost his starting job to Nootbaar. With Albert Pujols swinging a hot bat and getting more lineup time, Nolan Gorman has found himself on the bench frequently. I like Gorman in dynasty, but if he is not going to play, he should not be rostered for the remainder of 2022. Speaking of Cardinals losing playing time, Paul DeJong has been on the bench consistently and is clearly not a member of the starting lineup anymore.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers made a significant change to their lineup this week. I mentioned that Sal Frelick was an option for the Brewers to promote if Tyrone Taylor continued to struggle. The Brewers have decided to move on from Taylor as the everyday CF, but not for Frelick. Instead, they called up another prospect, Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell ranked 97th on my most recent prospect update. The talent is elite for Mitchell who has all the tools to be a top 20 dynasty prospect. The issue has been his inability to consistently hit fly balls. Mitchell has run extremely high ground ball rates throughout his minor league career. However, if the Brewers’ coaching staff can help adjust his swing Mitchell could be a big fantasy asset. He is worth adding in dynasty/keeper leagues to see if any progress can be made.

Andrew McCutchen has moved back in the lineup for Milwaukee. He is now batting in the back half while Hunter Renfroe has moved into the cleanup spot. McCutchen continues to see fairly regular playing time but is a replacement-level player the rest of the way. Jace Peterson is back and seeing regular playing time at 3B. Luis Urias has been out of the lineup allowing Peterson to play. I expect the two players to split playing time for the rest of the season and neither one is worth rostering at this point.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona is another team that decided it was time to promote a top prospect. Corbin Carroll (who ranked 1st overall in my top prospects) was promoted this past week. Carroll has 25/25 potential and is a must-add wherever he is available. Carroll’s promotion has a direct negative impact on the playing time of Alek Thomas. Since the promotion, Thomas has been on the bench against both lefties and will likely be stuck in a platoon role for the remainder of the 2022 season. Jake McCarthy has been playing extremely well and has moved up to second in the lineup. McCarthy does not have great quality of contact metrics and I am not viewing this as anything more than a hot streak. I am not prioritizing adding McCarthy in my leagues.

Colorado Rockies

Garrett Hampson continues to receive regular playing time lately. He has been batting toward the bottom of the lineup. Hampson is still not hitting and has only one stolen base since July 26. He is not worth rostering in any format. The Rockies did call up Michael Toglia. Toglia has immense power. He hit 30 home runs between AA and AAA this year and could be worth a look in deeper formats. Toglia struggles with strikeouts and will not hit for much average but could be a nice power boost to your team. He has the added benefit of playing his home games in Coors Field which should only help that.

AL East

New York Yankees

As the Yankees’ struggles continue, their lineup continues to fluctuate. Andrew Benintendi continues to bat toward the top of the lineup on most days rotating between leadoff and second in the order. With Oswaldo Cabrera up and playing every day, Aaron Hicks continues to find himself on the bench more often even when Stanton is the DH. Cabrera has been batting in the back half of the lineup since being called up. Cabrera’s presence and defensive versatility have also crept into Gleyber Torres’ playing time. Torres has been struggling throughout the back half of the season. The Yankees promoted another top prospect in Oswald Peraza. I love Peraza as a prospect and think he is a must-add.

Anthony Rizzo has been dealing with a back injury. He was absent from the lineup on Wednesday, but this does not seem like a serious injury. Rizzo should rejoin the lineup at some point over the weekend. Rizzo has been dealing with minor back injuries throughout most of this season and this is not something that should impact his fantasy value.

Toronto Blue Jays

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has continued his impressive season in the second half. As a result, he has moved up to third in the Toronto lineup. Moving up in the lineup to hit behind Springer and Guerrero should result in increased RBI opportunities for Gurriel. In contradiction, Teoscar Hernandez has been scuffling at the plate. The Blue Jays have moved him down to sixth or seventh in the lineup. Hernandez’s profile does not look very different than it did early in the season, and I am not giving up on him yet.

One player that more fantasy managers need to give up on is Whit Merrifield. Merrifield is still owned in 93% of Fantrax leagues. This number is way too high. Merrifield is stuck sharing playing time with both Raimel Tapia and Danny Jansen. He is not in the lineup on a consistent basis and should be dropped in fantasy leagues at this point.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles did an amazing job developing a farm system with star-level talent. The most recent promotion of top prospect Gunnar Henderson is the latest of their promotions this year. Henderson has been playing all over the infield at AAA and will be in the lineup every day for the rest of the season in Baltimore. He played third base in his first game but could also see time at SS and 2B. Henderson is an elite prospect who could have a major impact for the rest of the season in 2022. He is a must-add in all leagues he is still available in. With Henderson joining the lineup, Austin Hays continues to slide down and is now batting seventh for Baltimore. Meanwhile, Ramon Urias has found himself batting cleanup this past week and continues to be a surprisingly strong fantasy asset.

AL West

Houston Astros

Jeremy Pena is back to batting second in the lineup for Houston. He and Yuli Gurriel seem to have switched places. This is a boost to the fantasy value of Pena. Mauricio Dubon is playing more frequently batting at the bottom of the lineup. He seems to have taken over the primary center field role for Houston. He does not have a lot of fantasy value and is not somebody I am picking up.

The Astros are also dealing with a couple of new injuries. Yordan Alvarez is dealing with a hand injury. This is different from the hand injury that he dealt with earlier in 2022. Alvarez was originally expected to be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game but has yet to play since suffering the injury. The injuries continue to pile up for the Astros’ star and at this point, fantasy managers must be concerned with his durability in seasons moving forward. Trey Mancini has been seeing everyday playing time with Alvarez out. Mancini should be in the lineup more often in the next few weeks regardless of Alvarez’s health. In addition to Alvarez, Martin Maldonado is also dealing with a swollen right hand. This injury has allowed Christian Vazquez to get more playing time. Vazquez is not worth rostering as Maldonado is likely to reclaim the starting job once healthy.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners made a lineup tweak last week that seems to be sticking. Against right-handed pitching, Jesse Winker now bats second with Ty France moving down to fifth. France moves back to second against lefties while Winker usually takes a seat on the bench. J.P. Crawford is dealing with a pectoral injury. He has been out of the lineup this week but is expected to rejoin the starting nine this weekend. After getting off to a hot start this season, Crawford has been mediocre at best for fantasy and is not worth rostering outside of deep leagues.

Even though rosters are expanding, Jarred Kelenic will not be joining the big-league team. There is just simply no room in Seattle for Kelenic who took down all Mariners-related posts off social media. The best-case scenario for Kelenic’s fantasy value is an off-season trade. I expect the Mariners to be open to trading him and a change of scenery might help unlock his potential.

AL Central

Cleveland Guardians

Myles Straw’s second-half struggles have been well documented. He has been one of the worst hitters in baseball and it seems like the Guardians are finally moving him out of the starting lineup. Will Benson is in line to see more playing time with Straw being removed. Benson has shown some flashes in AAA but carries high strikeout rates and is not worth rostering. Straw is a clear drop candidate if you have not already.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins continue to deal with injuries. Although he has not been placed on the IL yet, Jorge Polanco has not been in the lineup at all this week. Nick Gordon has been covering second base for him. This could result in Gordon gaining 2B eligibility which will be a small boost to his fantasy value. Gordon has had a nice season and has continued to produce since being given an everyday lineup spot. Both him and Jose Miranda continue to be bright spots in the middle of the lineup in what has been a disappointing second half for Minnesota.

Detroit Tigers

With rosters expanding for September, Spencer Torkelson is rejoining the team. The former top prospect struggled early in the season with Detroit and has not seemed to make any progress in AAA. While in the minors, Torkelson hit just .228/.347/.394 with five home runs. He still has long-term dynasty appeal, but likely will not help at all in 2022. Fantasy managers need to remember that Torkelson was a first overall pick and that sometimes progression is not always linear. He could be a nice buy-low in dynasty as his value seems to have hit rock bottom.

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