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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL Analysis 04/21

National League lineup analysis is back after a brief hiatus. The breaking news this year has been fast and furious and this article is here to help you keep track of the latest. All relevant notes on the National League lineups can be found in the article below. The top five batters from the National League over the past week have been: Michael Busch, Trea Turner, Jesse Winker, Marcell Ozuna, and Pete Alonso. Be sure to check out my lineup analysis for the American League this week as well.

Please note that this article is finalized during the day on Saturday. I will do my best to update the information as it comes in later that night.

Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL Edition

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Brandon Marsh is up to sixth in the lineup and playing against lefties consistently
    • Marsh’s hot start has earned him more playing time and a more favorable lineup spot in Philly
    • The strikeout rate remains very high but his chase and whiff rates are right around the league average
    • He is crushing the ball and should provide solid fantasy contributions despite his high strikeout rate
  • Nick Castellanos is moving down the lineup
    • With Marsh moving up, Casty is moving down due to a very slow start
    • Castellanos is yet to hit a home run and looks completely lost at the plate
    • He got off to a slow start last season as well, but the underlying stats are very concerning
    • I am not dropping, but am fine selling low if you have any offers
    • Hopefully, his strong performance on Saturday will allow him to regain some confidence
  • Johan Rojas is up to four stolen bases
    • Rojas is not going to contribute much offensively, but when he gets on he is an instant threat to steal
    • He is making contact at a high rate but is struggling to make consistently hard contact
    • If you are desperate for speed in the outfield, he is available almost everywhere and is going to continue playing almost everyday for the Phillies

Miami Marlins

  • Jake Burger is on the IL with a strained oblique
    • Oblique injuries are becoming more and more common and have robbed the Marlins now of one of their top hitters
    • With Burger out of the lineup, Emmanuel Rivera has stepped into the primary third base role
    • Rivera is batting toward the bottom of the lineup and splitting some time with Otto Lopez
    • Neither player is worth adding
  • Bryan De La Cruz is now batting second in the lineup
    • De La Cruz has also gotten red hot at the plate and is up to three home runs
    • The barrel rate is nice but both his chase and whiff rates have regressed from last year’s numbers
    • De La Cruz is a streaky player so feel free to ride the highs but expect the lows to come
  • Nick Fortes is getting more run as the primary catcher with Christian Bethancourt on the IL
    • Fortes has never shown much offensive potential and is struggling to hit once again this season
    • The team recalled Jhonny Pereda from Triple-A who has bounced around the Minor Leagues over the past few seasons
    • Neither player is worth rostering in fantasy

Atlanta Braves

  • Ozzie Albies landed on the IL with a fractured toe
    • Luis Guillorme appears to be getting the first chance to step into the everyday second base role
    • He is batting ninth in the lineup and does not hold much fantasy value
    • Michael Harris II has moved up to second in the lineup which is a significant boost to his fantasy value
  • Fantasy managers should be selling high on Orlando Arcia
    • Arcia continues to hit for exceptional average early on this season but there is nothing in his profile that suggests this start is legit
    • His BABIP is through the roof with poor barrel rates
    • Do not buy this hot start even with him moving up to sixth in the lineup
  • Marcell Ozuna just keeps hitting home runs
    • Many fantasy managers were trying to get rid of him once he lost outfield eligibility and boy was that a mistake
    • Ozuna is up to eight home runs already and batting well over .300
    • Even stuck as UTIL only, Ozuna is an elite fantasy asset in an elite lineup that fantasy managers can count on for 2024

Washington Nationals

  • Luis Garcia has moved into the middle of the lineup
    • Garcia is off to a strong start to 2024 but the move into the cleanup spot is still a bit surprising
    • He has been barreling the ball up more than ever in his career but plate discipline remains a concern
    • If he gets the ball in the air with more consistency, he could be a 2024 breakout
  • Nick Senzel is back from the IL
    • Senzel is getting one more chance to play every day as Washington’s third baseman
    • He has been batting sixth or seventh in the lineup since returning
    • Senzel has never shown much potential at the Major League level and is not worth picking up in fantasy
  • Keibert Ruiz is on the IL
    • With Ruiz out, Riley Adams has stepped into a regular role
    • Adams has flashed power potential at times in the past but has been unable to keep his strikeout rate in check
    • He is a fine replacement option in two-catcher leagues if you rostered Ruiz

New York Mets

  • Brett Baty is dealing with some hamstring tightness
    • Baty left the game early on Tuesday and is yet to return to the lineup
    • The team remains optimistic he will avoid a stint on the IL
    • With Baty out, Joey Wendle and Zack Short are likely to platoon at third base
  • Harrison Bader is up to three stolen bases
    • Bader is playing center field and batting toward the bottom of the lineup for the Mets
    • The majority of his fantasy value will come from his speed even though he is not worth rostering outside of deep leagues
  • Francisco Alvarez was removed from the game on Friday with a thumb injury
    • Alvarez quickly landed on the IL and will undergo surgery. This injury should result in significant missed time
    • With Alvarez out, Omar Narvaez moves into the starting catcher role
    • Narvaez has not been a league-average offensive catcher since 2021 and is not worth adding in fantasy

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

  • Seiya Suzuki is on the IL with an oblique injury
    • Another oblique injury this time impacting the Cubs’ lineup
    • The team recalled Alexander Canario, but it has been Mike Tauchman who has been getting the majority of playing time
    • Tauchman should post solid on-base percentages but is not somebody that should be considered outside of NL-only leagues
  • Patrick Wisdom is back from the IL
    • Wisdom is likely to eat into the regular playing time that Garrett Cooper was getting
    • Cooper has more fantasy upside if he is able to maintain the starting job although we should not expect him to continue hitting for as high of an average as he is right now
    • Wisdom has started two games in right field which could keep him in the lineup until Suzuki returns
  • Ian Happ is dealing with a hamstring injury
    • Happ left the game on Friday and was absent from the lineup on Saturday
    • He is not expected to miss extended time or require an IL stint
    • With Happ out, Alexander Canario could step into the lineup more frequently and would be an interesting flier if Happ misses extended time
    • Nico Hoerner moved up to the leadoff spot to replace Happ

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Lars Nootbaar is back from the IL
    • Nootbaar has been inserted back into the middle of the lineup batting third against right-handed pitchers
    • Nootbaar’s value is highest in OBP leagues where his excellent walk rate creates more value
    • He hits the ball hard but will need to increase his launch angle if he is ever going to reach his full potential
  • The Cardinals are struggling to find room for both Willson Contreras and Ivan Herrera
    • While Nootbaar was out, the DH spot was up for grabs and both players could be in the lineup on a regular basis
    • Not that Nootbaar is back, Brendan Donovan has been playing at DH more frequently
    • The obvious answer is to take Victor Scott II out of the lineup which has been happening more frequently this past week
    • Scott is likely to get demoted back to Triple-A soon
  • Jordan Walker is struggling offensively
    • Walker has been out of the lineup twice in the past week and could start to see more time on the bench if he does not pick things up
    • Walker is still crushing the ball but is striking out too much and struggling in the field
    • There is even a chance the team could opt to send him to Triple-A to give him a reset if these struggles continue

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Christian Yelich is on the IL with a back injury
    • The injury is not expected to sideline Yelich for long as the Brewers are being cautious with their All-Star
    • Jake Bauers has been getting more playing time at first base with the Brewers shuffling things around throughout the rest of their lineup
    • Bauers is struggling early on and could easily lose this lineup spot to Joey Weimer who is back from Triple-A
    • Neither player is worth rostering
  • Sal Frelick is now leading off
    • Jackson Chourio has gotten off to a slow start and is sliding down in the lineup
    • Frelick moves up to the top of the order and is hitting for a solid average
    • Fantasy managers should not expect much of any power from Frelick, but he has plus speed and should score a good amount of runs for fantasy teams
  • Joey Ortiz has been on the bench for three straight games
    • This move puzzles me as Ortiz has been hitting for an excellent average and walking a ton
    • Considering what the Brewers gave up to acquire him, you would think they would be a bit more patient. Something else could be going on here but that remains unclear
    • Fantasy managers were only getting good OBP numbers from him so far, so he is not worth holding
    • Oliver Dunn is playing third base over Ortiz batting fourth or fifth in the lineup

Cincinnati Reds

  • The Reds were battling illness much of the week
    • Jeimer Candelario missed a few games allowing Santiago Espinal to enter the lineup
    • Christian Encarnacion-Strand also caught ill pushing Stuart Fairchild into the lineup
  • Jake Fraley is an underrated fantasy asset but is likely to regress
    • Fraley is up to five stolen bases on the year while hitting well over .300 early on
    • He is batting fifth in the lineup giving him plenty of RBI opportunities
    • Fraley’s batted ball data leaves plenty to be desired while a high BABIP is inflating his stat line. The speed and stolen bases will always be there and his home park helps to offset some of the expected regression
  • Will Benson is struggling with strikeouts again
    • A theme for early in his professional career, Benson seemed to overcome this hurdle last season but is back in the same boat as before
    • He has excellent raw power and will provide plenty of stolen bases for fantasy managers
    • The issue is that these skills are likely to come with a low batting average and high strikeout rate which could negatively impact your fantasy team

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Oneil Cruz is still striking out nearly 40% of the time
    • Cruz continues to bat leadoff against right-handed pitchers but you have to wonder how long the Pirates will continue to bat him there
    • The high ground ball percentage continues to limit his in-game power production despite excellent exit velocities
    • Fantasy managers should expect streaky production from Cruz as opposed to consistency
  • The team should give Liover Peguero a shot at second base
    • Jared Triolo continues to get consistent lineup time despite extreme offensive struggles
    • Maybe this is just me being salty about the team not going with Peguero out of camp, but he is playing well in Triple-A and is deserving of a chance at the Major League level
    • Nick Gonzales is also off to a fast start at Triple-A and could factor into the discussion at the big league level

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Andy Pages was recalled from Triple-A
    • Pages was off to an excellent start to the season in the Minor Leagues and is going to get a chance to play regularly
    • He has been batting seventh or eighth early on playing over James Outman against lefties and over Chris Taylor against righties
    • Pages has shown better plate discipline recently but will need to keep his strikeout rate in check if he ever wants to be fantasy-relevant. He is worth a flier in 12-14 team leagues
  • You have to wonder how much patience the Dodgers will have with Gavin Lux
    • Lux is batting at the bottom of the lineup and sitting against lefties but is still playing consistently against righties
    • He is batting below .200 with zero home runs and zero stolen bases
    • While he is likely to see some positive regression to his BABIP, the rest of his batted ball data leaves plenty to be desired. He is not worth rostering and could find himself on the bench soon
  • James Outman is struggling with strikeouts
    • Outman is already being taken out of the lineup against left-handed pitching and could lose more playing time against righties if he does not turn things around offensively
    • The strikeouts are a concern and are likely always going to be a part of his game
    • The good news is that he is still hitting a ton of line drives and should see positive regression to his BABIP

San Diego Padres

  • Luis Campusano has been on the bench against two righties in the past week
    • Campusano got off to a fast start but has slowed down considerably
    • His chase rate is likely to lead to plenty of cold streaks and his barrel rate sits below five percent
    • Kyle Higashioka is getting more playing time but is struggling even more offensively than Campusano. Higashioka is not worth paying attention to in fantasy
  • Jackson Merrill is slowly moving up in the lineup
    • After batting ninth on Opening Day, Merrill is now batting seventh most nights and even hit leadoff last Saturday
    • Merrill has been excellent so far hitting for average and stealing bases
    • Even more impressive has been the quality of contact he has posted which makes it reasonable to assume Merrill could reach 20 home runs this season. He is an excellent fantasy asset moving forward
  • Graham Pauley is back from Triple-A
    • The results post-demotion were not encouraging, but the team called Pauley back up anyway and gave him the start at third base on Saturday
    • Pauley struggled to keep his strikeout rate in check in Triple-A and is likely only a strong-side platoon option at best
    • With Pauley entering the lineup, Tyler Wade is likely to see his playing time decrease

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Randal Grichuk is getting more playing time in right field
    • Grichuk has primarily been in a bench role early on this season but could be taking playing time away from Jake McCarthy
    • Grichuk has enough raw power to be a fantasy-relevant asset but has not been consistent enough over the past few seasons
    • He is likely to continue splitting playing time and is not somebody that needs to be added
  • Gabriel Moreno has been out of the lineup more frequently lately but the signs are encouraging
    • Moreno is hitting more fly balls than ever before and has set a new career-high for max EV
    • His power outbreak from the 2023 Postseason might not have stuck, but there should be better days ahead of him moving forward

San Francisco Giants

  • Mike Yastrzemski is in a platoon again
    • This has been the theme for the last several seasons and even after the management change, Yaz is still not going to play everyday
    • Austin Slater is playing on the other side of the platoon
    • Neither player is worth rostering at this point
  • Jung Hoo Lee is hitting the ball hard with limited barrels
    • The average exit velocity has been impressive but Lee has not been getting the ball in the air enough to lead to any in game power
    • He is up to two stolen bases and posting excellent contact rates that should help produce solid batting averages
    • His 2024 outlook is likely 8-12 home runs, 14-17 stolen bases, and a .280 average. Not a bad player, but not a superstar

Colorado Rockies

  • Kris Bryant is back on the IL
    • Bryant has not been able to stay healthy since joining the Rockies and his fantasy production has not been good even when he is on the field
    • Back issues could be a theme throughout the remainder of Bryant’s Major League career
    • With Bryant out, Sean Bouchard was recalled from Triple-A
    • Bouchard has excellent raw power and great plate discipline but has been inconsistent in brief Major League chances. He is worth keeping an eye on in deep leagues
  • Elehuris Montero is playing first base every day
    • Montero continues to get chances to prove himself thanks to his great raw power
    • He is whiffing a lot less than in previous seasons but is still chasing a lot and could struggle to limit the strikeouts again in 2024
    • He is not worth adding in fantasy without significant production first
  • Brendan Rodgers has been dealing with illness
    • Rodgers has been abysmal offensively this season but he still seems to have a regular role on the Rockies starting lineup
    • In his absence, Alan Trejo has been playing second base and batting ninth in the lineup
    • Trejo has been worse than Rodgers at the plate this season and is not relevant for fantasy purposes
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  1. Babbo B says

    Enjoy these rundowns, lots of info in a reader-friendly format. That said, wondering if some wires got crossed in the Graham Pauley item: “The results post-demotion were not encouraging … Pauley struggled to keep his strikeout rate in check in Triple-A.” After the demotion he slashed .290/.436/.677 in 39 AAA PA, with an 18 percent walk rate and 8 percent strikeout rate (his highest strikeout rate at any level was 22 percent at High A last season, but it’s been below 15 percent at every other stop).

    As for Gabriel Moreno, he was out of the lineup last Tuesday-Wednesday with a bruised thumb but is past that now.

    1. Matt Heckman says

      Thanks- yes the wires did get crossed a bit on Pauley. Was originally writing about how Pauley was struggling in the minors but then he was recalled. Didn’t fine tune it quite enough!

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