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NL Lineup Analysis 07/15

A lot has happened in the past week and my goal is to fill you in on all of the details! Since the All-Star Break is next week, I am planning a trade deadline special lineup article. I will analyze how moves each team made could impact their current lineup and what you should be looking for! The five hottest hitters in the National League over the past week have been Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto, Austin Riley, Wilmer Flores, and Ketel Marte. Keep in mind this article was written on Thursday morning/afternoon. I will do my best to update with notes that come through later on Thursday. Check out the rest of the article for news and notes on all 15 National League lineups!

MLB Lineup Analysis

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies played two games in Toronto this week. As a result, Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto were unable to play because they are unvaccinated. The Phillies do not travel to Toronto again so this will not be an issue for the rest of the fantasy season. Alec Bohm would have been unlikely to play in either of those games even if he was vaccinated. He dislocated his finger sliding into second base on Monday night. The Phillies are hopeful that he will be able to return to the lineup on Friday.

With Bohm out of the lineup, Matt Vierling has seen additional playing time at 3B. This has let Odubel Hererra slide back into the lineup after several days on the bench. Like most of the Phillies’ bats, Vierling has cooled off over the past week. Despite this, I am still encouraged by his strong exit velocity, launch angle, and plate discipline numbers. Vierling is a great target in deeper leagues and looks to have gained Rob Thompson’s trust to play every day. Both Johan Camargo and Nick Maton are on rehab assignments. I expect Maton to be optioned back to AAA once healthy. Camargo could be a threat to steal playing time away from Bryson Stott or Didi Gregorious. Gregorious is the smarter although more unlikely option of the two.

New York Mets

Starling Marte missed multiple games this week due to a groin injury. He returned to the lineup on Thursday. With Marte out of the lineup, Mark Canha moved up to the second spot in the lineup. Also, Luis Guillorme continues to see everyday playing time. He is batting .309 on the season, but much of that is fueled by a .355 BABIP. I am not targeting Guillorme in any leagues. Jeff McNeil was activated off the paternity list on Thursday, so this should take away some of Guillorme’s playing time.

A quick note on the Mets’ catching situation. James McCann was placed on the IL again this week. The Mets have struggled to find production out of the catcher position. Top prospect Francisco Alvarez was promoted to AAA this week. He has been setting the minor leagues on fire at just 20 years old. A report surfaced that the Mets plan to be aggressive in their promotion of Alvarez possibly to fix their catching situation. Keep an eye on Alvarez’s production in AAA and if he continues to dominate, he could be worth stashing if you have the bench space.

Atlanta Braves

Make it three teams now that Robinson Cano has joined to take fantasy value away from other players. Cano signed with the Braves and will likely eat into Orlando Arcia’s playing time with Albies on the IL. In Atlanta’s defense, Arcia has been batting just .218/.295/.308 since Albies’ injury. Those numbers have been even worse since June 20. Since then, he has hit just .148 without an extra-base hit. Neither player is worth rostering currently.

Adam Duvall was on the paternity list for a few games. He has returned and continues to split time in the lineup with Eddie Rosario. Rosario has not looked much better than he did earlier in the season before having eye surgery. Since returning he has made less contact, while swinging more out of the zone than he was before. He is batting just .192 since returning and is not worth picking up. Meanwhile, in a small sample size, Adam Duvall is batting .273/.333/.727 since the start of July. He should see more playing time over Rosario if these trends continue. William Contreras has continued to be out of the lineup more and more frequently. He has been swinging the bat well, but barring an injury there is not a lot of room in Atlanta’s lineup. Now might be a good buy-low opportunity on Contreras in dynasty leagues.

Washington Nationals

Luis Garcia has appeared to usurp the starting lineup spot away from Cesar Hernandez. This is a smart move for the Nationals and boosts Garcia’s fantasy value. Hitting ahead of Bell, Soto, and Cruz should provide plenty of run-scoring opportunities for the youngster. Hernandez and Lane Thomas continue to be in the lineup on a regular basis, just both are now batting in the back half of it. Yadiel Hernandez continues to play against righties. Since the start of July, he is batting .269/.321/.462. However, over that time he has a launch angle of -8.6 degrees yet has a BABIP of .333. I am not buying this hot streak for Hernandez, and neither should you.

Miami Marlins

Jorge Soler officially started a rehab assignment this week. With the minor-league All-Star Break approaching, I would not be surprised to see Soler back with the big-league ball club this weekend. Soler will likely take playing time away from Bryan De La Cruz who has been in the lineup almost every day lately. De La Cruz has looked more comfortable at the plate since he has been in the lineup more consistently. Jon Berti is another candidate to lose playing time with Soler back. Berti has been seeing most of his starts in the outfield lately and is batting just .254 since June 20th. Berti could slide back to the infield and take Joey Wendle’s lineup spot. Wendle has struggled since returning batting .229. However, a lot of his struggles can be connected to an unlucky BABIP. I expect Wendle to remain in the lineup against right-handed pitchers.

Garrett Cooper fouled a ball off his knee in Tuesday’s game. X-rays came back negative, but he still has found himself missing a couple of games. This situation is worth monitoring. Since the start of July, Cooper is batting .179 with a .208 BABIP. His season BABIP of .377 was always unsustainable, but I do not expect Cooper to continue experiencing such poor luck. The first-time All-Star should bounce back when healthy.

*Thursday Note*: Jon Berti left the game on Thursday with what looks like a groin injury. This is worth keeping an eye on as a groin injury is especially worrisome with a base stealer like Berti.

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NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Frank Schwindel spent most of the week rehabbing with AAA and rejoined the team on Thursday. He was not immediately in the lineup but should return to the middle of the order soon. Nico Hoerner has continued his strong season this week. He has even seen time above Patrick Wisdom in the lineup. Hoerner should be added in all leagues he is available in. Nelson Velazquez has continued to be in the lineup most games. He has been struggling and is not worth adding at this time.

Milwaukee Brewers

Hunter Renfroe was activated off the IL this week. He should bat in the back half of the Brewers lineup and play every day. Tyrone Taylor was starting to work his way back from his concussion but experienced a setback. The Brewers will likely wait to activate him from the IL until after the All-Star Break at this point. Jace Peterson and Keston Hiura should continue to see additional playing time in the outfield. Since June 17th, Hiura is batting .324/.432/.595. Fantasy managers are that like Hiura’s raw skills need to proceed with caution here. Over that time, Hiura is still striking out over 35% of the time while running a .500 BABIP. This hot streak is bound to come to an end sooner rather than later.

Since June 21, Christian Yelich is batting .313. This could be the perfect opportunity to sell high on Yelich. While the average has been impressive, his Statcast data looks like the rest of the season. He has just a 1.1-degree average launch angle with a worse barrel rate. The only difference is a .388 BABIP. Yelich’s power is never coming back and now is a great time to capitalize on his recent production. Yelich was scratched from the lineup on Tuesday with back tightness and has not been in the lineup since. Back issues are originally what took away Yelich’s power a couple of years ago and I do not expect this to change.

St. Louis Cardinals

Brendan Donovan has been battling an illness this week. He has been out of the lineup for every game this week although he has yet to be placed on the IL. He should return to the lineup any day now. With Donovan out, Corey Dickerson and Albert Pujols have seen increased playing time. Seeing Albert Pujols play well at his age is always enjoyable. He has been hot at the plate batting .467/.500/1.000 since July 6. This is just a hot streak and not something to pay attention to for fantasy.

Tyler O’Neill should be back this weekend. He should slide right back into the lineup combining with Donovan to take away any playing time from Dickerson and Pujols. Harrison Bader’s recovery is moving slow, and might not return until the end of July. I am concerned that even once he comes back, he will not be stealing as many bases which was his only true contribution in fantasy.

Cincinnati Reds

After missing multiple games with a back injury, Joey Votto returned to the Reds’ lineup this week. In addition to Votto, the Reds also welcomed back Tyler Stephenson. Stephenson has slid back into the fifth spot in the lineup which is where he was before his injury. Tyler Naquin has been batting sixth with the Reds fully healthy. This has pushed Kyle Farmer down to seventh in the lineup. Naquin has been cold at the plate since returning from the IL but is a notoriously streaky hitter. I am keeping my eye on him as his hot weeks can help you win weeks. I expect him to be on the bench against lefties.

Nick Senzel has been dropped to ninth in the lineup. This is not a knock on his recent performance though as since July 1, he is batting .343/.378/.543. I mentioned Senzel’s pull percentage last week. Since June 15, he is pulling the ball over 38% of the time. Before that, he was only pulling the ball 26% of the time. This is likely fueling his small power breakout. Senzel is a good player to target.

*Late Thursday News*: Mike Moustakas was placed on the COVID IL on Thursday.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Kevin Newman is back with the Pirates. The Pirates faced three lefties this week and Newman led off against all of them. Newman is hitting .333 off lefties this season. The hole at the top of the lineup was created because Bryan Reynolds is on the IL. He has an oblique injury and has yet to start swinging again. Oblique injuries tend to linger so this is worth monitoring. With Reynolds out, Jake Marisnick has been playing CF every day. Jack Suwinski seems to be moving into a strong side of a platoon. He sat against two of the lefties this week and is batting .148 off them this season. This reduces the fantasy value that he had. Diego Castillo has been hot lately and is the better option against lefties batting .259 on the season.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

There is not too much to note for Arizona. Cooper Hummell’s playing time has come back down as the Diamondbacks have faced more righties. Buddy Kennedy seems to be losing his chance to play every day as he has been on the bench twice in the past week. After getting hot for a four-day stretch at the beginning of the month, Varsho has cooled off again this week. I profile Varsho as a league-average player and a slightly above-average catching option in fantasy.

Quick note on Corbin Carroll. Carroll got the promotion to AAA and is the number one prospect in my rankings. The Diamondbacks are in clear need of additional talent in the lineup and if Carroll keeps hitting, he could find himself in the majors this year. I still am projecting 2023 but would not be shocked to see Carroll in September.

Los Angeles Dodgers

This lineup continues to remain one of the most consistent lineups in baseball. There have not been any significant changes to note. Will Smith continues to be one of the best hitters in baseball while batting cleanup for the Dodgers. Since June 21, he is batting .303/.372/.539. My catcher one going into the season is living up to the lofty expectations. Max Muncy on the other hand continues to look injured. Since the start of July, Muncy is batting just .129/.256/.387 which is right around his full season data. The strikeout rate has been up recently which is a bit concerning as most of his value has been coming from his strong on-base percentage.

San Diego Padres

Some big news out of San Diego in the past week. Jurickson Profar was placed on the IL with a concussion. In a corresponding move, top prospect Esteury Ruiz was called up from AAA. Ruiz has been one of the fastest-moving prospects in baseball in 2022. Ruiz was batting .333 with 60 stolen bases in 70 games in the minors. He is a must-add in all formats. I think he has more fantasy value than teammate and fellow top prospect C.J. Abrams. There is a good chance that he gets sent back down to AAA once Profar returns, but he has game-changing speed. I do not expect it, but there is an outside chance that the Padres could opt to keep Ruiz in the lineup over Trent Grisham. Grisham is elite defensively with a 90th percentile OAA but is batting .193/.294/.329 on the season.

Ha-Seong Kim was dealing with a thumb injury this past week. He returned to the lineup and should continue to see consistent playing time. Jorge Alfaro has remained in the lineup every day playing catcher and DH but has been struggling since the start of July. He has been striking out over 40% of the time and both C.J. Abrams and Esteury Ruiz could force Alfaro to the bench more. Eric Hosmer has been on the bench against both lefties this week. This is peculiar as he is batting over .300 against lefties this year. I do not expect this to continue long-term.

Colorado Rockies

Kris Bryant was placed on the paternity list this week. After leaving the game early on Sunday, many believed Bryant was injured again. This is not the case, and he has already returned to the lineup. C.J. Cron has been dealing with a wrist injury. He returned to the lineup on Thursday. He had previously returned for one game and then felt soreness while swinging. I am watching this closely to see if it continues to bother him.

Garrett Hampson has been playing almost every day. Hampson has been fine over the past week, but even with a .385 BABIP he has only posted a .278 average. Hampson hits for no power and has only three stolen bases on the season. Even with the increase in playing time he should not be a target to pick up. With the injuries, Jose Iglesias has found himself moving up the lineup and batting second. Iglesias has been very quietly having a solid season and has been great over the past week. He had a six RBI game on Wednesday night and should be a good source of run and average production while hitting at the top of the lineup. I am curious if once the Rockies get healthy, they opt to leave Iglesias at the top of the lineup over Connor Joe.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants are the most frustrating team in baseball for fantasy owners. Even if you like a player’s skill set, almost every single player on the team is a part of a platoon. The most platoon-proof players right now seems to be Wilmer Flores and Austin Wynns. There have been multiple games this week that the Giants have opted to keep both Wynns and Joey Bart in the lineup at the same time. Wynns is batting .226 on the season and .200 since the start of July. Joey Bart has been better since his call-up but is still striking out over 30% of the time. Only one of these players should be in the lineup each day moving forward.

*Late Thursday News*: Wilmer Flores was scratched on Thursday with calf tightness. This situation is worth monitoring.

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