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Combined Lineup Analysis 09/09

The season is winding down, but lineup analysis is still going strong! With new prospects being called up and injuries never ending, there is always news to cover. The five hottest hitters in the league over the past week have been Bo Bichette, Aaron Judge, Justin Turner, Vaughn Grissom, and Mike Trout. Check out the rest of the article for the latest news and notes from lineups around the league!

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Most notably, Nick Castellanos landed on the IL with an oblique injury. Castellanos was finally starting to swing the bat for Philadelphia before this. Oblique injuries are always difficult to judge, but the team does not sound too concerned. With Castellanos out of the lineup, Brandon Marsh and Matt Vierling both will get consistent playing time. Marsh has seen his strikeouts tick back up and has been on the bench against most lefties. I thought there was a reason for optimism with Marsh after coming to Philadelphia, but it looks like the adjustments he made have not stuck. Vierling has also cooled off at the plate, as his barrel percentage has continued to decrease. I think Vierling is better offensively, but Marsh is better defensively. At full strength, they profile as a platoon that is not worth rostering in fantasy.

Bryson Stott has been seeing less playing time against left-handed pitching. This is to no fault of his own though as since the start of June he is batting over .300 against them. Stott’s improvements at the plate have been noticeable and encouraging this season. I am optimistic about Stott’s dynasty and keeper league outlook even if he is out of the lineup against lefties for this year.

Atlanta Braves

Ozzie Albies continues to rehab at AAA. He has been in the AAA lineup for three games so far and will likely need at least a few more appearances before rejoining the Braves. In his absence, Vaughn Grissom continues to impress. He is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak and is batting .347 through his first 103 plate appearances. He has also added four stolen bases to his line and looks like he could be a 20/25 threat for years to come. Grissom will see his average fall as the .389 BABIP levels out, but I could see Grissom batting around .270 with 20 home runs in the future. He has been participating in outfield drills in anticipation of Albies’ return.

Speaking of the outfield, Marcell Ozuna has been hot at the plate and receiving more playing time. Robbie Grossman is batting just .178 since joining the Braves and Eddie Rosario has not been much better. The Braves are clearly preparing to move Grissom to the outfield and none of the trio previously mentioned are worth rostering.

New York Mets

With Brett Baty out for the rest of the season, Eduardo Escobar has been playing third base on a regular basis. After struggling for much of the second half, Escobar has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the past week. He has a six-game hit streak and is batting .526 with three home runs. Escobar’s resurgence might even buy him some additional lineup time when Luis Guillorme returns. Guillorme is on a rehab assignment and could rejoin the Mets as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Starling Marte is dealing with a fractured finger. The Mets have not placed Marte on the IL yet, although it remains a possibility. The Mets are saying that there is a possibility that Marte can play through the injury although I am skeptical. If Marte is forced to miss significant time, Tyler Naquin is the most likely candidate to see his playing time increase. Naquin found himself relegated to a bench role for the past two weeks but should be in the lineup more frequently with Marte out. Naquin is known for having ridiculous hot streaks and could be worth a look if you are desperate for outfield help late in the season.

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers

As Milwaukee searches for answers on the field, fantasy managers are trying to figure out who from their lineup is worth rostering. Starting in the outfield, the Brewers have two constants. Christian Yelich and Hunter Renfroe are always in the lineup. Yelich is even showing flashes of old batting .327/.386/.538 since August 22. He is getting the ball in the air more which has been his biggest issue over the past couple of seasons. His groundball rate is still over 50% which limits his upside. Between CF and the DH spot, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Mitchell, and Tyrone Taylor are all receiving inconsistent playing time. Chasing a playoff spot, the Brewers need production now and their unwillingness to stick through the struggles of their young players makes this a situation I am avoiding in fantasy.

Keston Hiura has become a part of the Brewers’ everyday lineup. He has been batting either fifth or sixth and getting a chance to start at a variety of positions. This has most notably forced Luis Urias to the bench against righties and Kolten Wong to the bench against lefties. Since August 30, Hiura is striking out over 40% of the time. He has the same raw power he has shown throughout his career but with a strikeout rate that high, sustained success is near impossible.

NL West

San Francisco Giants

The Giants’ lineup continues to be all over the place. With Gabe Kapler as their manager, I am not sure that will ever change. With Alex Slater on the IL, the Giants needed a new right-handed bat to fill in as the leadoff hitter against lefties. Insert Lewis Brinson, who has already hit three home runs in just six games. The raw talent and physical build Brinson possesses has always been tantalizing. Combine that with the flashes he has shown in Spring Training, and you have a perennial sleeper for fantasy baseball Twitter. I am not buying into the Brinson hype as he has given us no reason to believe anything about his profile has changed. In addition, he will likely be on the short side of a platoon in San Francisco and is not worth picking up.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers decided to call up Miguel Vargas as one of their two players added to the roster for September. Vargas is a prospect that I am extremely high on. However, since joining the team, Vargas has only started three games. This is even with Gavin Lux out of the lineup with a back injury. The Dodgers are expecting Lux to rejoin the lineup at some point this weekend. With the team at full strength, Vargas could struggle to see regular playing time. An encouraging sign is the Dodgers’ willingness to use him at a variety of positions. Vargas has seen time with the team in LF and 1B which could provide him additional eligibility moving forward. Vargas is a great player for dynasty and keeper leagues, but not for 2022.

Max Muncy continues to be red-hot at the plate. He has hit three home runs in the past week and appears to be fully healthy after a rough first half. Since the start of August, Muncy is batting .282/.358/.598 and has all the looks of being a league-winner for those that stuck by him. Cody Bellinger has just one hit in his last 29 plate appearances and continues to be a player that should be dropped. His roster percentage is way too high at 93% and fantasy managers need to give up on him.

Colorado Rockies

Jose Iglesias was placed on the IL this week. Alan Trejo was called up from AAA and is expected to get the majority of playing time at SS. Trejo has shown flashes and was having a solid year at AAA. He has average power and an average hit tool. I am not rushing to add him to any fantasy teams. Yonathan Daza is healthy now and has been in the lineup on a regular basis. He has been batting second with Charlie Blackmon moving down to fourth in the lineup. Daza is a nice source of contact but has only two home runs so far this year. Young players Michael Toglia and Elehuris Montero are both still getting regular playing time. However, both are running high strikeout rates and do not hold a lot of fantasy value for 2022.

AL East

New York Yankees

I am not entirely sure where to start with the Yankees. New York has likely lost Andrew Benintendi for the rest of the regular season. He underwent surgery on his wrist which is expected to sideline him for several weeks. Benintendi is not the only Yankees player that landed on the IL last week. Anthony Rizzo is also injured and is without a firm timetable for a return. This has created two holes at the top of the Yankees lineup. Gleyber Torres appears to be being given a chance to bat in the middle of the lineup. He has been horrendous at the plate recently batting just .178 since the start of August. Torres has seen his whiff rate increase causing him to strike out more. In addition, he has been a bit unlucky with a .234 BABIP over that period.

Ronald Guzman was called up from AAA to take the lineup spot of Rizzo. Guzman does not hold any fantasy value, and I would not be surprised if Marwin Gonzalez or even Gleyber Torres is given a shot to play first base. Shifting Torres off of second would allow Oswald Peraza to enter the lineup more frequently. Although Peraza has been batting behind another prospect in Oswaldo Cabrera, I believe that Peraza is the prospect to own for fantasy purposes. He has a chance to be a dynamic offensive player in Yankee Stadium and is worth a flier if you have a deep bench for 2022.

P.S. Aaron Judge is really good. He is now up to 55 home runs on the season!

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox promoted top prospect Triston Casas to the big leagues. Casas has big-time power and has shown an above-average hit tool throughout the minors. He will be in Boston’s lineup on a regular basis for the rest of the season. I have never been the biggest fan and think that there is a good chance he struggles, at least initially, in 2022. I am not rushing to pick him up, although I agree he has long-term fantasy value.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are getting healthy again. Brandon Lowe is already back from the IL and should continue to play regularly against righties. Before landing on the IL, Lowe was on the bench most games against lefties and this will likely continue. Meanwhile, Wander Franco is expecting to rejoin the Rays at some point this weekend. Franco would be a huge boost to the Rays lineup with October looming. In addition to real life, Franco would be a nice boost to your fantasy team. Since August 13, Jose Siri is batting .309. However, much of this is due to a .422 BABIP. There have not been any significant changes to Siri’s profile that justify his recent success and I am not buying in.

AL West

Seattle Mariners

Carlos Santana was a popular fantasy pick-up after his trade to Seattle. His opportunity to be in the lineup on a consistent basis might be over. Santana has been struggling at the plate over the past two weeks and since the start of August, he is batting .171. He is not worth rostering at this point in the season. The combination of Taylor Trammell, Abraham Toro, and Jake Lamb are likely to see their playing time increase in place of Santana. Without any of them receiving regular lineup time, none are worth owning. Ty France has moved back up to second and Winker is back to batting fifth. They have been switching these two spots in the lineup over the past month or so.

Texas Rangers

The latest of many top prospects to be called up is Josh Jung. The Rangers placed Brad Miller on the IL and Jung is expected to join the lineup on Friday. Jung ranks inside the top 10 on my prospects list and is a player that can help you immediately. He was likely to make the Opening Day roster before tearing his labrum in Spring Training. Jung has a rare blend of contact and power that can make him an excellent fantasy asset. He is not flashy, and he does not have the majestic flow of Gunnar Henderson, but Jung can be every bit as good and needs to be added to your roster ASAP. Jung should be in the lineup every day for Texas. Ezequiel Duran could be the most likely candidate to lose playing time, especially since he is batting just .229 since the start of August.

AL Central

Kansas City Royals

Vinnie Pasquantino is still rehabbing at AAA. He has played three games so far and is nearing a return to the Royals’ lineup. Pasquantino is a useful fantasy asset and should be picked back up anywhere he was dropped. This late in the season, the Royals will likely keep Nick Pratto in the lineup every day. Hunter Dozier is the most likely candidate to lose playing time when Pasquantino returns. Speaking of Pratto, I am concerned about his long-term outlook. Pratto has demonstrated elite power, blasting seven home runs in just 45 games. I am concerned that his hit tool will never develop. He never hit for good average in the minors and always ran a high strikeout rate. This has continued in the major leagues as he is batting just .200 with a K% over 35. In my opinion, Pasquantino is the better long-term option for Kansas City.

Cleveland Guardians

Although not much has changed in Cleveland’s lineup, there has been one notable switch. Tyler Freeman is receiving every day playing time. He has been batting in the back half of the lineup for Cleveland recently. Freeman has an above-average hit tool and profiles a lot like Nick Madrigal. Freeman does not strike out much and makes consistent contact but lacks any real game power. Even with consistent lineup time, Freeman is not worth rostering on your fantasy team. Oscar Gonzalez continues to receive everyday playing time but is still struggling to get the ball in the air. He has all the tools to be a breakout candidate for 2023 but will need to undergo a swing change to get more launch on the ball. He has seen his BABIP come back to earth recently and is batting just .242 since August 20th.

Chicago White Sox

Whenever you think the White Sox big hitters are getting healthy, another injury pops up. Luis Robert returned for one game this week after returning from the paternity list. He was hit by a pitch last week and is now battling a hand injury. Robert is now managing wrist and hand injuries and could see his power output decrease as a result. I am concerned about Robert for the rest of 2022. There is a small possibility the White Sox could shut him down if they fall out of the playoff race. Yoan Moncada is back from the IL and should slide back into the back half of the lineup. This year has been a struggle and he is not worth rostering at this point.

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