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NL Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways for the First Week of May

Back at it with National League lineups. There is plenty to catch up on from the last ten days of baseball. The five hottest hitters in the National League over that time period have been: Jack Suwinski, LaMonte Wade Jr, Nick Senzel, Ozzie Albies, and Bryan Reynolds. 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

Philadelphia Phillies

Bryce Harper is back! The two-time MVP completed an almost miraculous recovery process by returning to the lineup this past Tuesday. He figures to bat third most nights and likely spend most of his time at DH. His return to the lineup has shifted Bryson Stott down to fifth and Marsh to seventh while Kyle Schwarber returns to leadoff duties.

Stott has cooled off some after his hot start and profiles to be closer to the league average for the rest of the season. While the move down is a slight knock to his value, the Phillies lineup is deep enough for it to not make a significant difference. Kody Clemens and the recently demoted Jake Cave are the two players losing out on playing time with Harper’s return.

Nick Castellanos has continued to swing a hot bat. He is looking like his old self at the plate and is once again looking like a reliable fantasy asset.

Trea Turner on the other hand is off to a slow start in 2023. The biggest issue has been increased chase and whiff rates. Both numbers experienced a slight increase last year, which has continued in 2023. This could be a result of Turner pressing to impress after signing his massive contract this past off-season, but this is something to monitor. Batting second allows him to continue scoring plenty of runs and he is perfect so far on the base paths. Turner will continue to be a reliable fantasy asset, but expectations might need to change.

Atlanta Braves

The top of the Braves lineup is loaded. Ronald Acuna is an early favorite for MVP with six home runs, 14 steals, and an average well over .300. Acuna is doing just about everything and rewarding those who took him first overall.

Matt Olson is up to eight home runs but is posting the highest strikeout rate of his career. Travis d’Arnaud has remained on the IL with a concussion but is hopeful to return this week or next week. In his absence, Sean Murphy continues to bat fourth and look like the best catcher in baseball.

Michael Harris II is healthy again and batting in the bottom third of the lineup. Harris continues to search for his footing this season and is struggling to get the ball in the air. Harris needs to get his average launch angle above zero if he wants to have success. His strikeout rate is down, but his whiff and chase rates remain high. There are reasons to be concerned about Harris’ 2023 outlook.

Vaughn Grissom is continuing to bat sixth for Atlanta but could see his playing time decrease when Orlando Arcia returns. Grissom continues to hit for a solid average but is providing very little in the other four categories. I am fine moving on from him in shallow leagues.

Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario are platooning at DH. Neither one is worth rostering at this point. Kevin Pillar is getting fairly consistent playing time, but this should change when d’Arnaud returns.

Some late news is Ronald Acuna Jr. left the game on Thursday after fouling a ball off his knee. This situation is worth monitoring. If he is forced to miss time, Marcell Ozuna and Sam Hilliard are most likely to see their playing time increase.

Washington Nationals

Alex Call has moved back into an everyday role batting leadoff for the Nationals. Call continues to only hold any value in OBP leagues. Luis Garcia is now batting second and is showing some improvement at the plate. Even with the improvements, remains a below-average offensive player. Unless he is able to get the ball in the air more, he will never hold much fantasy value. He should not be rostered at this time.

The name to be paying attention to is CJ Abrams. Since April 21, Abrams is batting .300/.333/.500 and finally showing significant signs of being fantasy relevant. Over this time, he is pulling the ball more while hitting more barrels. The negatives continue to be a high chase rate combined with low average exit velocities. Abrams has also not attempted a stolen base since April 14. Abrams will need to start stealing more before he should enter your fantasy lineup. He could be worth a stash if somebody dropped him.

Miami Marlins

Two new injuries have opened up spots in the Marlins’ lineup. Garrett Cooper is on the IL with an ear infection resulting in everyday playing time for Yuli Gurriel. Avisail Garcia is also on the IL with back tightness allowing Jesus Sanchez some additional playing time. Gurriel is batting third and hitting for a great average so far. He is unlikely to provide much power or any speed but could be worth a look in deep leagues. Jesus Sanchez is only playing against right-handed pitchers but possesses an enticing blend of power and speed. He should not be rostered until he proves that he can lower his strikeout rate. His whiff rate is up over 35% which will prevent him from ever having consistent success.

Bryan De La Cruz had a hot couple of weeks during April but has gone ice-cold since. His strikeout rate also remains well over 30% as pitchers continue to attack him with over 40% breaking balls. This cold stretch has started to eat into his playing time as he has sat two times against righties in the past week. With inconsistent playing time, De La Cruz is not worth rostering.

The Marlins have a lot of speed on their bench. Garrett Hampson has been receiving multiple starts a week but is still sitting at just two stolen bases. The Marlins also called up former Rays’ prospect Xavier Edwards. Edwards is yet to receive a start but did have seven steals in 20 games at Triple-A. If either player works their way into everyday playing time they could be valuable from a fantasy perspective.

All that speed without even mentioning Jon Berti who is playing every day and has five stolen bases so far. Berti is quietly showing a much-improved launch angle which could lead to more power. If Berti can just be league-average at the plate he has enough speed to be a valuable fantasy asset. I would be looking to pick him up if you need infield help.

New York Mets

Brett Baty has been excellent since his promotion to the Major League club. He is batting well over .300 with two home runs already. Any concerns over his launch angle should be a thing of the past at this point as he is hitting plenty of fly balls. He is still batting toward the bottom of the lineup but should find himself moving up if this success continues. Baty profiles to be a significant fantasy asset for the remainder of the 2023 season.

A notable shift in the Mets’ lineup has been the increased playing time for Francisco Alvarez. The Mets were seemingly resistant to hand their top prospect consistent time in the lineup, but he appears to be forcing their hand. He has received more starts than Tomas Nido over the past week while appearing to settle into a nice rhythm. Proceed with caution here as much of his success has been fueled by a high BABIP. Alvarez is yet to barrel up a ball and is posting an average launch angle of just 3.2 degrees. No barrels, a 34% chase rate, and a whiff rate of 40% have me staying away from Alvarez on the waiver wire.

Jeff McNeil has been receiving increased playing time in the outfield which could signal a change coming. Regardless of his defensive position, McNeil has been excellent in the middle of the Mets’ lineup. The issue has been Mark Canha who has seen his batting average slowly decrease while his slugging percentage remains under .400. The Mets have been having top prospect Ronny Mauricio play second base potentially foreshadowing a coming change. McNeil could shift to the outfield full-time in place of Canha while opening up a spot for Mauricio in the Major Leagues.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Matt Mervis has been promoted to the Major Leagues. The heavy-hitting first baseman has hit six home runs already at Triple-A and will now get a chance to show what he can do at the Major League level. Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer are the two candidates most likely to lose playing time with Mervis up. There is a chance they form a platoon and Mervis plays every day. Add Mervis if you need first-base help.

Patrick Wisdom has slid down to eighth in the Cubs’ lineup. He continues to hit for impressive power with a .386 ISO. The story remains the same however as his strikeout rate is over 30% and his average continues to go down. Wisdom is batting just .184 since April 18 and could be a significant drain to your team’s batting average.

The Cubs have been having issues at catcher. Yan Gomes has landed on the IL resulting in a promotion for Double-A for prospect Miguel Amaya. He figures to split playing time with Tucker Barnhart toward the bottom of the lineup. Amaya was off to a great start in the Minor Leagues with four home runs. However, he was also running a strikeout rate of over 30% which is unlikely to go down after making the jump all the way to the Major Leagues. I am not adding Amaya at this point.

St. Louis Cardinals

Jordan Walker did not survive his first month in the Major Leagues. Instead, he was optioned back to Triple-A to work on both his defense and elevating the ball more. With Walker gone, Dylan Carlson has taken over the primary center field duties. So far, Carlson is not demonstrating any improvements past what we have seen in previous seasons. He is a better real-life player than fantasy asset thanks to his above-average defense.

You can’t help but feel that Tyler O’Neill will steal the lineup spot back from Carlson as the season goes on. O’Neill is currently working on the short side of a platoon with Alec Burleson. Both players are batting sixth when in the lineup. From a fantasy perspective, Burleson holds more value and should start seeing his .221 BABIP increase. He hits the ball hard with a consistently smooth swing.

Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman continue to flip-flop between leadoff and ninth depending on the handedness of the pitcher. The bizarre thing with Nootbaar continues to be his ground ball rate. His launch angle remains below zero which will prevent him from ever hitting many home runs. Those predicting a breakout season for Nootbaar are likely to be disappointed unless this changes. His real fantasy value comes in OBP leagues where his 20% walk rate makes a significant difference.

Paul DeJong is a thing again and working in a platoon with Brendan Donovan. DeJong has always had loads of potential and is off to a fast start early this year. DeJong appears to have redesigned his swing to hit fewer fly balls and instead is posting a sweet spot percentage of 45%. His whiff rate is down so far and early indications are pointing toward real breakout potential here. Proceed with caution, but if DeJong starts seeing more playing time, he could be worth a flier in deep leagues.

Milwaukee Brewers

Tyrone Taylor has returned from the IL, slotting into the eighth spot in the lineup. Taylor has shown flashes of fantasy relevance in the past, hitting 17 home runs last season, but has never fully put things together. His glove should keep him in the lineup for the time being and he is a name to watch. Fellow outfielder Joey Wiemer continues to bat ninth and is looking like a potential buy-low candidate. His early season batting average and BABIP were hampered by a high ground ball rate. Since April 14, Wiemer has increased his average launch angle to 14.2 degrees with a 9.8%-barrel rate. The results have not been quite as spectacular as people were originally hoping for, but I am remaining optimistic about Wiemer’s profile. He also ranks as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball which should help keep his spot in the lineup safe.

Jesse Winker and Brice Turang are stuck in platoons currently. Both are underperforming expectations so far in 2023. Turang is striking out far more often than anybody predicted, and Winker is yet to hit a home run. I am fine moving on from both players.

Cincinnati Reds

Nick Senzel? Senzel has been one of, if not the hottest hitter in baseball as of late. After years of disappointment, the former third-overall pick might be on his way to a major breakout. In just 19 games, Senzel has three home runs, two stolen bases, and a batting average that is pushing .300. Senzel is making a deliberate attempt to pull the ball more which is helping unlock more power. He is also chasing fewer pitches leading to an improved walk rate. His below-average exit velocity remains a concern, but Senzel is well worth a speculative add. He is currently batting sixth most nights but could move up if this success continues.

Elsewhere in the lineup, TJ Friedl continues to bat second against righties while riding the bench against lefties. Friedl continues to hit for a high average primarily fueled by a .380 BABIP. He holds value in deep leagues but is unlikely to contribute much power. With Wil Myers on the IL, Stuart Fairchild is getting a chance to play and bat in the middle of the lineup against lefties. Fairchild has never had much success at the Major League level and is not demonstrating any signs of a breakout now.

One new name is Henry Ramos. After bouncing throughout the Minor Leagues, Ramos spent the 2022 season in Japan before signing with the Reds this off-season. He is playing every day and although the average is nice, there is not much speed or power in Ramos’ profile. He is not somebody worth adding at this point. In fact, he might be a holdover for the player you should be adding. Christian Encarnacion-Strand has been red hot in Triple-A since coming off the IL. I would guess it is only a matter of days until he is in Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Maybe I am just being stubborn, but Ke’Bryan Hayes continues to intrigue me. He is batting leadoff in a surprisingly productive lineup and continues to demonstrate improved barrel rates and average launch angles. Hayes is pulling the ball more as of late and should see positive regression to his HR/FB%. Hold Hayes if you have him.

One player you do not need to be patient with is Bryan Reynolds who continues to produce at a high level. He has been red hot at the plate and is looking like a threat to go 20/20 this year.

Jack Suwinski continues to ride the bench against lefties but hit for plenty of power against righties. He is up to six home runs on the season but fantasy managers should be proceeding with caution. His strikeout issues have started to rear their ugly head and his whiff rate remains a concern. Suwinski has enough power and speed to be fantasy relevant for the remainder of 2023, but managers should be expecting a batting average closer to .230 than his current .260 number.

On the other side of his platoon is Miguel Andujar who is producing at a high level with limited opportunities. He is not worth adding at this point.

Austin Hedges continues to bat ninth and handle the majority of the catching responsibilities in Pittsburgh. Man oh man has he been bad at the plate. So far, he is making his career 54 wRC+ look impressive and the Pirates should not be expected to stick with him much longer. Expect top prospect Endy Rodriguez to receive a promotion soon.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

Will Smith is back from his concussion and batting third for the Dodgers. Smith is proving once again that he deserves to be in the conversation for the best catcher in fantasy baseball. As if his 127 wRC+ from 2022 was not impressive enough, Smith has managed to cut his strikeout rate in half. A number that now sits below 10%. He is batting almost .300 despite a career-low BABIP of .263. An argument can be made that Smith has been unlucky so far this season. Expect big things from Smith this year.

Jason Heyward was mentioned in the last article as somebody to keep an eye on. He is receiving consistent playing time against righties while batting fifth in most games. He is up to four home runs already while posting career highs in both exit velocity and barrel rate. The Dodgers appear to have worked some of their magic with Heyward and he is worth a look in deep leagues.

Miguel Rojas is back from the IL and is splitting time with Chris Taylor at shortstop. Taylor is the better offensive player, but do not expect his 26.3 HR/FB% to continue. Rojas is the superior defender and should eat into Taylor’s playing time. Michael Busch also remains with the Dodgers but is not playing very often. He will likely be sent back to Triple-A to get consistent at-bats.

San Diego Padres

No real changes to discuss in the Padres lineup. Nelson Cruz is receiving a little more playing time and is performing well with a 120 wRC+ so far. He ranks toward the bottom of the league in both whiff and chase rate and his success is primarily due to a .375 BABIP. Leave Cruz on the waiver wire.

Juan Soto has a six-game hitting streak and is reminding fantasy owners how spectacular he can be. Anybody that was pressing the panic button before can breathe a sigh of relief.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The major injury scare has been Corbin Carroll. He has been sidelined since Sunday with a knee injury but appears to have avoided anything serious. In his absence, Dominic Fletcher has gotten a couple of starts in the outfield. Fletcher has never shown up on any prospect reports but has quietly hit for excellent average throughout his professional career. There is limited power and speed here, but a good glove and plus-hit tool could result in more playing time as the season moves along.

Lots of lefties in the past week have meant more playing time for Emmanuel Rivera, Evan Longoria, and Nick Ahmed. On the flip side, Josh Rojas, Geraldo Perdomo, and Pavin Smith have been in the lineup less frequently. Perdomo was a popular fantasy pick-up, but he is not playing against lefties and is running a .500 BABIP. Do not expect his success to continue. For the time being, Alek Thomas appears platoon-proof. He is playing every day and although the results have not been there, I remain optimistic. His exit velocity, barrel rate, and launch angle are all up, but his slash line continues to be brought down by a .209 BABIP. Hopefully, the Diamondbacks remain patient with Thomas.

San Francisco Giants

Two everyday players landed on the IL in the past ten days. Both Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski are injured resulting in more playing time for Brett Wisely and David Villar. Neither one is playing consistently enough to warrant any fantasy attention.

The injuries combined with a hot streak might have made LaMonte Wade Jr. platoon-proof. Wade continues to bat leadoff against righties and started the last game versus a lefty. He is up to six home runs while walking over 20% of the time. He is a great add in point and OBP leagues.

I am not entirely sure what to make of Michael Conforto. He is batting between fourth and sixth in the lineup against both lefties and righties. His quality of contact looks as strong as ever with above-average barrel rates, exit velocities, and sweet spot percentages. The issue has been a 32.6% whiff rate that is preventing him from having consistent success. After missing all of last season, it is possible Conforto is still working on getting his timing down and I am willing to be patient for a little bit longer before moving on.

Colorado Rockies

No real changes to the Rockies’ lineup. Randal Grichuk is back from the IL and batting sixth or seventh in most games. He is a player to watch moving forward. Alan Trejo is platooning at second base with Harold Castro. Trejo’s wRC+ of 36 is slightly better than Castro’s 5, but neither player should be on your fantasy roster.

Brenton Doyle is playing in most but not all games batting toward the bottom of the lineup. Doyle is up to three stolen bases already but is struggling to hit Major League pitching. He is striking out over 35% of the time which caps any fantasy value he holds. I am not adding Doyle, but am keeping my eye on him to see if he can reduce his strikeout percentage.

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