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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL 05/15

Back at it with National League lineups. There is plenty to catch up on from the last 10 days of baseball. The five hottest hitters in the National League over that time period have been Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Dominic Fletcher, Will Smith, Juan Soto, and Jonathan India. Disclaimer: This article is written the day before publishing. Not all statistics will be 100% accurate from the night before. I will do my best to update any important news or notes that come through at the last second. Keep reading to stay up to date on the latest trends from all 15 National League teams.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

NL East Lineup Analysis

Philadelphia Phillies

The good: Bryson Stott is back hitting leadoff. The bad: Stott is in the middle of a massive slump at the plate. Stott came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, but since April 20, Stott is batting just .181/.250/.236 while taking a seat against each of the last two lefties the Phillies have faced. The Phillies likely do not want to force Stott into a full-time platoon, but while he is struggling to hit he is unlikely to get consistent starts against southpaws. A lot of Stott’s slump can be attributed to a .197 BABIP, but the power metrics are concerning. The true Stott likely lies somewhere between his early season success and current slump. With Stott batting leadoff, Kyle Schwarber has moved back to fifth. The move seems to have helped Schwarber get comfortable as he has two home runs in the past week.

Checking in on how Bryce Harper has been doing since his return. The overall slash line looks amazing. The barrel rate is steady, but there are some underlying concerns. His average exit velocity is well below his career norms and his launch angle is below zero. I am not sure if either of these has something to do with his injury, but the situation is worth monitoring.

Atlanta Braves

Orlando Arcia is back and the Braves could not move on from Vaughn Grissom fast enough. Grissom was optioned back to Triple-A, and Arcia has slotted into the back end of the Braves lineup. Grissom is not worth keeping stashed as he did not have much fantasy relevance with the Braves this season. Arcia was playing well before the injury and if you need help at MI, he could be worth an add.

Travis d’Arnaud is also back from the IL. His return seems to be eating into the playing time of Marcell Ozuna. Early on, the Braves were giving Sean Murphy plenty of days off, but the early season MVP candidate has been too good to sit. I expect Murphy to continue seeing consistent, everyday playing time, and d’Arnaud to be in the lineup most nights as well. He has been batting seventh since returning.

The Braves continue to bat Eddie Rosario fifth and maybe it is time he starts getting some attention for fantasy purposes. Entering Sunday, Rosario was in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak and had hit safely in 15 of 16 games. Over that time, Rosario is slashing .339/.381/.542 with an average exit velocity of over 92 mph. Rosario has been fantasy relevant in the past and batting in the middle of a loaded Braves’ lineup is great for his counting stats.

Washington Nationals

Lane Thomas is very quietly having a solid season at the plate. He does not do any one thing particularly well, but he is able to contribute in all five categories. He has four home runs, three stolen bases, and continues to bat leadoff for Washington. Thomas’ .354 BABIP is unsustainable, and he is not particularly exciting, but if you are desperate for outfield help he is somebody to consider.

With Victor Robles landing on the IL, Alex Call is getting a chance to continue playing every day. Call really only holds value in OBP leagues thanks to a strong walk rate. The Nationals’ other outfield spot is up for grabs. The team recently promoted Jake Alu and it seems like he is going to be on the strong side of a platoon with Stone Garrett. Alu hit .323 with 11 home runs in Triple-A last season but was off to a rough start there this year. There is not much upside here and he is not worth adding. There is more upside for Stone Garrett, but a 31% strikeout rate is unlikely to earn him much more playing time.

Miami Marlins

Since April 25, Jesus Sanchez is batting .390/.405/.780 with three home runs. This hype train, however, has come to a screeching halt as Sanchez landed on the IL. Digging into his profile the issue is that we have seen Sanchez show flashes of this before. He still runs incredibly high strikeout rates and when his BABIP is not at .520, his average will fall down. I was not rushing to add him even when he was healthy.

Speaking of returning to a bench role, Jon Berti is no longer starting every day. He is still playing a large portion of the games at a variety of positions, but Joey Wendle has returned to take the starting shortstop job. Wendle is batting in the lower third of the lineup and has not gotten going at the plate yet. Berti has multiple ways to work back into the starting nine by taking over for Wendle or for Jean Segura who continues to struggle.

New York Mets

Brett Baty has begun his ascent up the Mets’ lineup. He is now batting fifth right behind Pete Alonso. As pitchers continue to be careful with Alonso, Baty should get plenty of pitches to hit. Despite moving up the lineup, Baty has fallen into a bit of a slump. The surface stats have been rough, but he is lowering his strikeout rate, still hitting the ball plenty hard, and is likely just falling victim to some poor luck. If anybody is selling Baty during this slump, now is the perfect chance to buy into this exciting young prospect.

The Mets have made some other notable changes to the lineup including moving Jeff McNeil up in the lineup and Starling Marte down. Marte has been abysmal since the first week of the season, and you have to wonder if his best days are behind him. Marte has seen regression in just about every quality of contact metric out there and is even down to 37th percentile sprint speed. After stealing six bases in his first 14 games, Marte has just four the rest of the season. He is likely a hold in deep leagues, but I am fine moving on in shallow ones.

Mark Canha is also down to eighth in the lineup, and it seems likely that when the Mets call up Ronny Mauricio, they will move McNeil to the outfield and Canha to a bench role. He is struggling at the plate and is another veteran who you do not need to roster in fantasy.

Francisco Alvarez is playing every day at catcher and batting ninth. With Tomas Nido landing on the IL, his only real competition for playing time is gone. He should be universally rostered at this point and profiles as a solid contributor the rest of the way.

NL Central Lineup Analysis

Chicago Cubs

So, what have the promotions of Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis looked like for the Cubs’ lineup? To start, a lot less playing time for Eric Hosmer. Morel is playing every day for Nico Hoerner who just landed on the IL. Mervis is batting seventh and striking out a ton early on. Pitchers are attacking him with loads of breaking balls and he is whiffing on just about all of them. He has plenty of power but will struggle to stick at the Major League level if he does not make more contact. Morel spent the first couple of games at the bottom of the lineup but got a chance to lead off on Friday. In a similar fashion to last year, he is off to an amazing start at the big-league level. His plate discipline got him in trouble last year and is the thing to monitor going forward.

Patrick Wisdom has moved back up in the lineup while Trey Mancini has moved down toward the bottom. Patrick Wisdom is just a less extreme Joey Gallo at this point. Tons of strikeouts, a low batting average, but tons and tons of power. If you need home runs, Wisdom is your guy but he will drain your batting average. Yan Gomes has also returned to bat ninth in the Cubs’ lineup. He is very quietly playing very well with a 152 wRC+ on the season. Do not expect him to bat over .300 this year, or to hit 25 home runs but he looks like a very solid contributor in two-catcher leagues.

Also, I am not panicking about Seiya Suzuki. The barrel rate is down, but everything else in his profile looks very solid. He is still batting in the middle of the lineup and now could be a good chance to buy low.

St. Louis Cardinals

In my last article, I tossed in Paul DeJong as a name to keep an eye on. Well, now might be the time to go grab him. DeJong is getting more and more playing time while looking excellent at the plate. A lower launch angle should help lead to more reliable success from DeJong and he has plenty of power to be a useful fantasy asset. He is batting sixth or seventh in most games and could continue seeing additional playing time. DeJong is seeing more time at the expense of Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan. After a strong start, Edman is batting just .154 since April 28 and appears to be in a platoon. He is not worth rostering right now.

With the Cardinals seemingly resistant to playing Willson Contreras at catcher, Andrew Knizner is getting everyday playing time at the bottom of the lineup. Knizner has never had much success at the Major League level and is mostly just playing for his defense.

Dylan Carlson has overtaken Alec Burleson for playing time. Carlson has shown flashes of being a relevant fantasy player but has never been able to take the next step. This appears to be the same situation early on although his exit velocity numbers are up. If he can maintain this increase in exit velocity, he could see an increase in power metrics.

Some Late Sunday News: Dylan Carlson was removed from the game with a leg injury. If he is forced to miss significant time, Alec Burleson could get more at-bats. In addition, the team is reportedly giving catching duties back to Willson Contreras. This could be a way to get Tommy Edman back into the lineup at the same time as DeJong and Donovan.

Milwaukee Brewers

The typical Brewers’ lineup has remained consistent. Christian Yelich has been swinging a hot bat recently, but his upside continues to be hampered by a low launch angle. He does not hit enough fly balls to ever see his power increase back to his MVP levels.

The real change to the Brewers’ lineup has come against lefties. Owen Miller is getting a chance to start and bat leadoff when facing left-handed pitchers. Miller playing on the short side of a platoon does not make him fantasy relevant, but it is still notable. William Contreras is moving up to second against lefties against whom he has much better splits. Contreras is also running a high ground ball rate which could continue to cause disappointing home run totals.

Cincinnati Reds

Seems like all the talk these days is about the Reds’ Triple-A team and not their Major League roster. That is what happens when you have three top prospects dominating Minor League pitching. All three of Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand should be up at some point this season. The three players currently occupying a lineup spot that could lose their job are Henry Ramos, Kevin Newman, and Wil Myers. Newman is splitting time with Jose Barrero, but neither one is performing very well. There was reason to believe Myers would have a bounce-back season this year, but he has really struggled at the plate. His strikeout rate is over 35% and at a certain point, the Reds might be willing to count their losses and move on.

Late Sunday News: Matt McLain is getting called up to the Reds. This is exciting news and he should play every day. Add McLain where he is available. You can read more about him in last week’s edition of the StashList.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Rodolfo Castro lost his hold on an everyday spot in the lineup. He is now on the short side of a platoon with Tucupita Marcano. Marcano has never been able to string together much success at the Major League level and neither player is worth rostering at this point. Another infielder, Ji Hwan Bae is seeing his playing time decrease as well. Bae has a .090 ISO on the season and does not provide enough power to ever be a consistent Major League player. The 14 steals are great for fantasy but if his playing time is decreasing, Bae should not be rostered. Chris Owings is seeing more time in place of Bae, but he is not worth picking up either.

Since April 30, Jack Suwinski is batting .111/.238/.194 with a strikeout rate north of 40%. After a hot April, pitchers have changed their approach against Suwinski. Pitchers have gone from attacking him with 53.1% fastballs to only 48.6% fastballs in May. Meanwhile, breaking balls have increased from 30.2% to 38.9%. Suwinski struggled to make consistent contact against breaking balls last season, and it seems like pitchers have returned to this approach to get him out. Seeing if he is able to adjust to this change is something worth keeping your eye on. His quality of contact metric still looks strong and he should be kept on your bench for now.

NL West Lineup Analysis

Los Angeles Dodgers

With JD Martinez returning from the IL and slotting back into the middle of the lineup, Michael Busch was optioned back to Triple-A. Busch was not receiving much playing time with the Dodgers and will be able to get consistent at-bats in the Minor Leagues. Martinez’s return to the lineup primarily puts a strain on the playing time for Chris Taylor, Jason Heyward, and Trayce Thompson. Of the three players, Taylor is the only one receiving semi-regular playing time. He appears to be in a platoon with David Peralta who has been on the bench a lot over the past week with the team facing several left-handers. Taylor is up to seven home runs but is a difficult add due to inconsistent playing time and a high strikeout rate.

Miguel Vargas’ power is starting to show up. Since the start of May, Vargas has a .333 ISO with a 115 wRC+. The average still leaves room for improvement, but much of his struggles can be attributed to a .200 BABIP over that period. Vargas has excellent barrel rates with great plate discipline and should start to see more improvements to his stat line. On top of this, he is playing every day in a strong Dodgers lineup.

San Diego Padres

No changes to note in the Padres’ lineup. Juan Soto has continued to once again look like one of the best hitters in baseball. Since April 30, Soto is batting .422/.527/.756 while walking almost twice as much as he strikes out. Xander Bogaerts who is batting behind Soto is not seeing the same level of success. Since April 22, Bogaerts is batting .156/.289/.234. The .191 BABIP over that period will not continue, but there are significant reasons to be concerned. Bogaerts continue to pound the ball into the ground and could be a major disappointment the rest of the way. I had concerns entering the season, and this stretch is not alleviating those concerns.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Fantasy managers can only be as patient as the Major League organizations. Alek Thomas has continued to post solid quality of contact metrics but is not seeing any luck at the plate. The Diamondbacks have seemingly lost their patience with Thomas who is now sitting more often in favor of Dominic Fletcher. Hard to blame Arizona for getting Fletcher into the lineup since he has two home runs and a .462 average in 12 games. Fletcher has a plus hit tool that appears to be translating well but do not expect this power outburst to continue. He can help in the average department but temper your expectations if you are targeting him. He has been batting in the bottom third of the lineup in most games.

Geraldo Perdomo continues to play on the large side of a platoon and bat toward the bottom of the lineup. Perdomo is batting just .217 since April 30 and if you picked him up while he was hot, now is the time to move on. Pavin Smith is continuing to see most of the playing time batting in the middle of the lineup. Smith has plenty of power and although he is batting .292 now, he should see his .370 BABIP come down. He is a deep league target, but far from a must-add.

Gabriel Moreno continues to only provide in the average department. He hits the ball hard, but a low launch angle is likely to always impact his ability to hit home runs. The concern is that his .310 average is supported by a .385 BABIP. If his average comes down, Moreno will be a drain on fantasy teams.

San Francisco Giants

The big news out of San Francisco was the promotion of top prospect Casey Schmitt. Schmitt had a breakout 2022 campaign and almost made the team out of Spring Training. Roster Resource currently has him listed as a part of a platoon, but his elite defense and versatility make this unlikely in my eyes. Schmitt is off to a fast start at the Major League level and should continue to play every day between third base and shortstop. You can read a full detailed report on Schmitt here.

The reason some are skeptical of Schmitt’s playing time moving forward is the return of Brandon Crawford. Crawford figures to get the majority of starts at shortstop moving forward, but the Giants will likely want to give the 36-year-old plenty of days off. Another option for the Giants is leaving JD Davis at DH and moving Mitch Haniger onto the short side of a platoon. Haniger has really struggled to turn things on at the plate this year. Another situation in this puzzle to monitor is the injury to Joc Pederson. Pederson was hit in the hand with a pitch and could be forced to miss extended time. If this is the case Haniger, Schmitt, and Crawford can all remain in the lineup.

Michael Conforto has never struggled with a high ground ball rate in his career before this season. Despite a disappointing stat line, a lot of Conforto’s metrics look encouraging. The only issue has been a low launch angle. This could have something to do with his shoulder injury or could be an early-season fluke. This is worth continuing to monitor.

Colorado Rockies

Reports out of Colorado indicate that CJ Cron is going to land on the IL. A simple move would be for Mike Moustakas to start seeing more playing time, but I hope this is not the case. The fantasy-relevant routes involve the promotion of one of Michael Toglia, Elehuris Montero, or Nolan Jones. All three have at least seven home runs at Triple-A and have plus power that could make them fantasy relevant. The issue with all three is a high strikeout rate that can get them in trouble. I am most interested in monitoring Montero, but all three warrant consideration in deep leagues.

Brenton Doyle is still not playing every day but is up to five stolen bases already. If you are desperate for speed I understand taking a shot, but he holds little fantasy relevance in every other category. Speaking of fantasy relevance, Jurickson Profar might warrant some consideration. After a slow start, Profar is batting .275/.370/.550 since the start of May. It is important to remember Profar did not participate in Spring Training and might have needed the first month to get comfortable on a new team. His recent metrics all look really solid and he continues to bat second in Colorado’s lineup. I am looking to add Profar where he is available.

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