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NL Lineup Analysis 05/20

Time for another week of analyzing the lineups around the National League. Although most teams have settled into a consistent lineup, there is still plenty to talk about. The five hottest hitters in the National League over the past week have been Kole Calhoun, Paul Goldschmidt, Mike Yastrzemski, Mark Canha, and Ryan McMahon. Stay up to date on all of the news and notes from all 15 teams in the article below!

MLB Lineup Analysis

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Nothing too notable has changed in the Phillies lineup. Rhys Hoskins has batted leadoff each game this week while Jean Segura has settled into the fifth spot in the lineup. Segura has been on a tear lately and has stolen four bases in his last six games. Segura has not stolen double-digit bases since 2019 and has not stolen 20 bases since 2018. The pace he is attempting steals at is not sustainable, but fantasy managers cannot complain about a possible 15-steal season from Segura.

Bryce Harper has not played since Saturday because of a plasma injection he received. This figures to be something that could happen throughout the season as Harper is playing with a partially torn UCL. This should not concern fantasy managers as long as the injury does not get any worse. Harper won NL Player of the Week honors last week and should continue to be one of the best players in baseball even with his injury.

New York Mets

J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith have continued to split time evenly in the Mets lineup. This continues to be a platoon worth monitoring as if one of them starts to receive more consistent playing time they could be fantasy relevant. J.D. Davis has posted one of the highest xwOBAs in baseball, but I am not sure if the Mets will ever let him truly play every day. He is playing more against right-handed pitchers though and is worth monitoring.

Starling Marte was batting second early in the week before being placed on the bereavement list. Marte should return to the Mets this weekend or at the earliest next week. He has been hot at the plate, but I continue to worry about sustainability. He has stolen only one base in the past 18 games and is hitting just .266/.311/.403. I am okay selling Marte if somebody is willing to buy high on his hot streak.

Atlanta Braves

After missing several games with a leg injury, Ronald Acuna Jr. returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Acuna will likely have durability concerns for most of this year, but it is good to see him return to the lineup. Orlando Arcia played in two games while he was out, but went just one for seven. The Braves seem set on Demeritte and Duvall in the outfield over Arcia. There has also been buzz about Drew Waters being called up at some point if those two continue to struggle. Waters likely has more value than Arcia as the Braves seem to few him as a bench bat.

Austin Riley has been in a bit of a slump and even batted sixth one game. Riley ran an insane .368 BABIP last year. Everybody knew that this number would come crashing down and it has. His .286 BABIP is more likely to be indicative of his profile. Still expect a lot of home runs and RBIs from Riley, but his average will likely be closer to .250 than the .303 he posted last season.

Washington Nationals

Dee Strange-Gordon appears to be getting more playing time at SS. Alcides Escobar continues to struggle at the plate and the Nationals are looking for other options. However, the 34-year-old Gordon will not be the answer. Luis Garcia continues to look like an elite hitter in Triple-A. He has hit .346 with eight home runs so far and it is only a matter of time before the Nationals call him up. He should be on all fantasy manager’s radars if you need middle infield help.

Yadiel Hernandez has hit .261/.320/.391 over the past week. He has started to see his BABIP come down, and this is likely closer to the slash line he will post over the rest of the season. Valuable in deeper leagues only. If you picked up Maikel Franco early on, it is probably time to move on. He has never had sustained success in the majors and since April 8th he is hitting just .205 with zero walks.

Miami Marlins

Brian Anderson returned from the COVID list and has started every game since. He has continued to produce and has a 14.5%-barrel rate on the season. His BABIP is slightly high, but Anderson is somebody who has always run a high BABIP. Anderson is a solid option if you are desperate for corner infield help. With Joey Wendle on the IL, Miguel Rojas has seen most of the additional playing time.

Since May 8th, Bryan De La Cruz is hitting .333/.368/.500. Jesus Sanchez is batting .156/.206/.250. Although both players have their flaws, De La Cruz has posted a much higher sweet spot percentage, while showing significantly better plate discipline. Those holding on to Sanchez based on upside might be better off taking a shot on DLC. DLC has started multiple games this week and I would not be surprised if he starts to take playing time away from Sanchez.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Last week I talked about how Schwindel was sent down to Triple-A and then recalled instantly. He has started every game this week. He has performed well over the past week, but much of that is carried by a .400 BABIP. In addition, he has not walked over that time frame while posting just a .042 ISO. Schwindel will likely never return to the player he was during the second half of 2021.

Andrelton Simmons returned from injury but has started just two of four games so far. I am not sure if the Cubs are just easing him back into action or are more comfortable with him as a bench bat. In the meantime, Jonathan Villar has started every game this week. The Cubs also called up Christopher Morel from AA and he hit a home run in his first at-bat Tuesday night. Morel has shown excellent raw power in the minors. His biggest issue has been his ability to make consistent contact. If he starts showing he has improved his hit tool, he could be a name to keep an eye on.

Milwaukee Brewers

Andrew McCutchen remains sidelined with COVID. He should be back any day now as he has turned to Twitter to voice his frustration with the league’s protocols. He should slot back into the lineup as soon as he can, but it is unclear exactly where he will. Kolten Wong has turned it on at the plate, so he seems likely to continue batting leadoff against righties. Wong is also up to eight stolen bases on the year and needs to be added wherever he is available. Hitting at the top of the Brewers lineup will lead to a lot of run opportunities for Wong.

Luis Urias has also been batting in the upper half of the lineup this week. He has looked strong since returning from his injury, but I am skeptical this will continue. Urias profiles as a replacement-level player who will be a solid asset in deeper leagues, but not worth rushing to pick up in shallow leagues.

Willy Adames was placed on the IL with an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains tend to linger, so it would not surprise me to see Adames out more than the 10-day minimum. Jace Peterson has been receiving additional at-bats with Adames out.

St. Louis Cardinals

Juan Yepez continues to play and continues to look like a valuable fantasy asset. He has already gained OF eligibility in leagues only requiring five starts and will likely continue to gain it in leagues with deeper requirements as well. Tyler O’Neill sat back-to-back games over last weekend and again on Thursday. This might be a case of the Cardinals trying to reset O’Neill. He has looked more like the player he was in 2019 and 2020 than the 2021 breakout version. If he continues to struggle, he could continue to lose starts to Yepez.

Another young player Brendan Donovan is getting a chance to play after the demotion of Paul DeJong. Donovan has looked strong at the plate, but his quality of contact metrics give me reason for concern. Donovan has just one barrel, an average exit velocity of 83.8mph, and a launch angle of just 5.6 degrees. I do not think Donovan is a player that should be high on your FAAB priority list unless you are in a deep league.

[UPDATE] Some Thursday afternoon news: The Cardinals finally called up top prospect Nolan Gorman. Tyler O’Neil went on the IL. Gorman figures to play every day while he is up. He should be added everywhere as he has great upside. He had already hit 15 home runs in Triple-A but also was striking out well over 30% of the time. He has boom or bust potential and will now get his first taste of big league action!

Cincinnati Reds

There are not many fantasy notes to be aware of for the Reds. Joey Votto is on a rehab appearance and should rejoin the team shortly. I still think that he is not worth rostering in fantasy yet as he struggled early in the season. Tyler Naquin is one of the more streaky players in the league. He has been on a tear over the past week, but he can go cold very quickly. I would not be spending FAAB money on him but if you already roster him, I would be starting him while he is hot.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Last week Diego Castillo was starting every game, and this week he has started just once. The Pirates called up Rodolfo Castro who has been playing consistently. Castro is not somebody who has ever had a track record of success in the minors and is irrelevant for fantasy purposes. Josh VanMeter and Ben Gamel are playing every day. Gamel is batting .189 since May 8, and VanMeter is hitting .152 since May 1. Another player in the everyday lineup is Yoshi Tsutsugo. He has hit just .158 since the start of May. There is no way the Pirates can continue to justify playing them every day.

The Pirates have several prospects at Triple-A that should be given a chance soon. Oneil Cruz is the most well-known, but he might be the last of them to get called up. Matt Frazier has a 125 wRC+ in Triple-A and could come up to play first base instead of Tsutsugo. Meanwhile, Cal Mitchell is batting .302 with five home runs and six steals. He could come up and play anywhere in the outfield. I expect Mitchell to be up first, and he should be on fantasy managers’ radars if you need outfield help in deep leagues.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

The biggest storyline over the past week has been the emergence of Alek Thomas. Since debuting, Thomas is batting .323 with two home runs. The two early home runs are nice, but I am not sure if this power burst will continue. I do however believe that the walks will increase. He has just a 3.1 BB%, but has swing, chase, and contact rates around league average. Thomas consistently posted walk rates around 10%, so I expect this to increase.

I talked about Christian Walker a few weeks ago, and he has been a monster at the plate. All of the bad luck Walker experienced early in the season has turned to good luck. Over the past week, Walker is batting .381/.458/.810 with three home runs. This rate is unsustainable, but I could see Walker batting around .260 with 25-30 home runs by the end of the season. Walker should be added if your team needs help at first base.

Ketel Marte has also missed a few games this week with a sore hand. He is expected to return either Thursday night or for Friday’s game. This is nothing serious for fantasy managers.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have not made any notable changes to their lineup. Is it possible that Freddie Freeman could start playing even better than he has so far? Freeman has posted just a 7.3 HR/FB% which is well below his career average of 16.9%. Freeman is pulling the ball slightly less which could be part of the reason, but all his other metrics look exactly the same. I expect some positive home run regression from Freeman. People out there still continue to cling to Cody Bellinger’s MVP season. This is not the player that he is. Bellinger is batting just .194 on the season. At this point managers just have to accept that he is a batter who can hit home runs but will drain your average.

San Diego Padres

The Padres signed Robinson Cano and he has started three games this week. Cano is not going to steal significant time away from Machado, Kim, Cronenworth, or Voit. He is nothing more than a bench bat which is all that he should be. After batting second for several games, Profar has moved back down into the lower third of the lineup. Him moving down in the lineup has led to Ha-Seong Kim moving up. Kim has been swinging a hot bat at the plate so the Padres are likely riding the hot hand. Jake Cronenworth should start seeing some better luck. He has a BABIP of just .252 and a HR/FB rate of just 4.2%. Both numbers should improve soon. This being said, I am worried that the change in ball is affecting Cronenworth’s player type more than the average hitter.

Colorado Rockies

Yonathan Daza has carved out an everyday role in the Rockies lineup. Not only is he playing, but he has been batting second most nights. Over the past week, he is batting .391/..464/.615 with more walks than strikeouts. Daza is not a player that hits the ball very hard or will ever hit a lot of home runs, but he is somebody that possesses well above-average contact skills. So far this year, Daza is only whiffing 16.4% of the time and has an in-zone contact rate of 91.4%. Kris Bryant is expected back on Friday, but the Rockies will likely keep finding ways to get Daza’s bat into the lineup. Daza will not produce much of anything except average, but if you are in desperate need of OF help, he is a player to target.

I have been consistent in saying that I was not worried about Ryan McMahon despite his early struggles. McMahon has collected multiple hits in five of his past six games and since May 9, is batting .343/.410/.543. During the offseason I labeled McMahon as one of “my guys.” He seems to have found his groove at the plate and could be in for a monster 2022.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants welcomed back another starter from injury in Tommy La Stella. He started both games against righties before sitting Wednesday against a lefty. La Stella will likely continue to be on the strong side of a platoon playing a variety of positions. LaMonte Wade Jr. returned from injury last week. After starting several games in a row against righties he experienced some soreness in his knee. Since then, Darin Ruf has started both games. Ruf and Wade figure to continue in a platoon if both stay healthy.

Since returning from his injury, Mike Yastrzemski has looked like a completely different player. He has hit .313/.407/.542 with a strikeout rate down at 16.9% and a double-digit walk rate. Yastrzemski has been batting in the middle of the order against right-handed starters and has remained in the lineup against lefties. He has posted an average exit velocity of 92.7 and an average launch angle of 8 degrees. Yaz hit 21 home runs in just 107 games in 2019 and then hit .297 with 10 home runs in the shortened 2020 season. He is a player that needs to be added in all formats instantly if available.

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