Time to get back to the normal lineup analysis this week. If you want to check out my trade deadline special from last week you can here! A lot has happened over the past week as teams have started making changes and setting up their lineups for the second half. The hottest five hitters in the National League over the past week have been Pete Alonso, Austin Riley, David Peralta, Trayce Thompson, and Willson Contreras. Check out news and notes from all 15 NL teams in the article below!
MLB Lineup Analysis
The Phillies lineup has seen some changes since the All-Star Break. This past week, the Phillies faced two lefties. In both games, Matt Vierling moved up to the leadoff spot. I have been mentioning Vierling in a lot of my recent articles and continue to believe he has the tools to be a useful fantasy player in deep leagues. Also of note, Nick Castellanos has started to move down in the lineup. He continues to look completely lost at the plate and is now batting fifth. I do not think you can drop him yet, but he should be riding your bench until he shows signs of turning things on. Alec Bohm has been the most consistent hitter for the Phillies. Bohm has a 13-game hit streak and has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games. He is batting .420/.442/.593 over that span.
On the injury front, Jean Segura has begun a rehab assignment. Segura is eligible to come off the IL on August 2. I expect Segura to be activated at some point next week. He is a great add in all fantasy leagues he is available in. I expect Segura to bat toward the top of the lineup and Castellanos to continue moving down. The Phillies seem to be favoring Bryson Stott recently over Didi Gregorious, but both players figure to lose some playing time. Bryce Harper is also expected to have the pins removed from his thumb next week. I still do not expect Harper to return until sometime in September.
New York Mets
The Mets started the trade deadline with a quiet move. They traded for both Michael Perez and Daniel Vogelbach from the Pirates. Vogelbach has been brought in to replace Dominic Smith who has struggled and was placed on the IL. Vogelbach and J.D. Davis figure to platoon. Smith could be traded or be sent back to AAA once he returns from the IL. Michael Perez figures to split time with Thomas Nido. Francisco Alvarez’s transition to AAA has not been smooth. He has struggled in his first 12 games. The Mets will likely want to see him produce in AAA before considering a promotion to the majors.
*Late Thursday News*: The Mets traded for Tyler Naquin on Thursday night. His fantasy value takes a hit with the trade as he will be in more of a bench role.
At least for the time being, the Braves outfield got a little bit less congested. Adam Duvall will undergo season-ending wrist surgery. Although this might hit you as a reason to pick up Eddie Rosario, the biggest beneficiary of this injury might be William Contreras. Rosario will see his playing time increase, but he has been struggling to find his timing at the plate. The Braves are trying to hunt down the Mets for the division lead and need their best bats in the lineup. They could choose to play Marcell Ozuna in LF more often now with Duvall injured which would open the DH spot for Contreras. Travis d’Arnaud is also batting just .192/.263/.212 since the start of July. Contreras could start to steal more playing time away from him also.
The Nationals have started tinkering with their lineup during the past week. Victor Robles has been batting leadoff each of the past two games. Robles has come out of the All-Star Break on fire and has quietly been producing over the month of July. Since July 10, Robles is batting .275 with four stolen bases and two home runs. Over that span, his pull and contact percentages are both way up. Overall, his exit velocity and barrel rate still leave much to be desired, but if the Nationals are going to let him bat leadoff, he could have fantasy value in deeper leagues. Robles is worth targeting to see if this hot streak continues.
At least for now, Luis Garcia has settled back into the back half of the lineup. I previously advised proceeding with caution on Garcia after he was generating a lot of hype. Garcia has come back to earth recently resulting in his drop back in the lineup. Two things to monitor in the future are his launch angle and pull percentage. Garcia has an average launch angle of just 5.6 degrees on the season and just a 32.7% pull rate. If Garcia can start pulling the ball in the air more, he has all the talent to be a great player.
Injuries have hit Miami hard. News surfaced that Jazz Chisholm has a stress fracture and will be out at least six weeks. On top of that, Garrett Cooper was placed on the IL after being hit by a pitch. I am concerned about Cooper as this is the same wrist he has had issues with before. Miami is labeling this as a contusion and there is no timetable for his return. Jorge Soler is also back on the IL with back spasms. This has been an ongoing issue for Soler this season and reports are they do not think this is season-ending. Any time season ending is brought up in a report there is always cause for concern. I am okay moving on from Soler as this figures to be a recurring issue for the rest of the season.
Former first-round pick, J.J. Bleday was called up from AAA to help overcome these injuries. Bleday had 20 home runs this season but was batting just .228. He will provide very little average or speed to your fantasy team. Bleday has a lot of holes in his swing and could struggle to hit big-league pitching. I expect him to hit right around .210 with average power. He is not somebody I am rushing to pick up but could be worth targeting in deeper leagues. He has been batting in the middle of the lineup since his promotion. Jon Berti has been participating in baseball activities this week and could be nearing a return. Berti should continue to be a strong source of stolen bases once he comes back from the IL.
As I mentioned in my Trade Deadline lineup article last week, the Cubs lineup could see a lot of changes in the coming days. However, over the past week, it has remained consistent. Most Notably, Nico Hoerner has moved ahead of Patrick Wisdom and the platoon of Frank Schwindel and Alfonso Rivas. Hoerner continues to be one of the best hitters in baseball recently while Patrick Wisdom has been in a slump. Wisdom is known for his power but has not hit a home run since July 3. During his power outage, Wisdom has seen his barrel rate and average exit velocity both take a hit. I am slightly concerned, but Wisdom has a career HR/FB of 23.4%. I expect the home runs to start coming again for Wisdom soon.
Nelson Velazquez had a big weekend in Philadelphia but continues to find himself on the short side of a platoon. Velazquez has a .286 ISO on the season and a 15.2% barrel rate. I am watching Velazquez closely over the next week. If he gets a chance to play every day because of trades, he should be added. Velazquez could be a big boost to your fantasy team if he gets an opportunity.
Tyrone Taylor has been on the bench multiple times in the past week and might have lost his everyday lineup spot. Luis Urias is also moving down in the lineup. This is more a result of Hunter Renfroe playing well than it is Urias playing poorly. Renfroe has been on a tear with four home runs since the All-Star Break. If Renfroe can stay healthy he could be a huge fantasy asset for the second half. A report surfaced a few days ago that Christian Yelich is still managing back issues. He will likely manage these issues for the rest of his career and is a different player than he once was. Yelich has just one home run over his last 136 plate appearances although he still has a 128 wRC+ over that span.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have been dealing with all kinds of injuries lately. Juan Yepez still has not resumed throwing but has been swinging a bat. He still seems to be at least a week away from a return. Harrison Bader had begun a rehab assignment, but experienced soreness in his foot the next day. There is still a possibility he returns sometime next week, but the Cardinals will likely want to make sure he can play multiple days in a row.
In addition to the injuries, the Cardinals traveled to Toronto this week. Both of their star players were unable to make the trip as both Arenado and Goldschmidt are unvaccinated. The Cardinals do not travel to Toronto again this season, so this does not affect their fantasy outlook. Dylan Carlson has been seeing consistent time at the top of the lineup while Tommy Edman has fluctuated between the top and back half of the lineup. In shallower leagues, I am okay dropping Brendan Donovan. He has been hitting .200 with just three runs and four RBIs since the start of July.
Tyler Stephenson’s poor injury luck has continued. He is now out without a timetable to return with a broken clavicle. Nick Senzel has cooled back off after his hot start to July. Senzel is making a conscious effort to hit for power as he is pulling the ball more than he ever has before. Unfortunately, he has not been able to make solid contact with this approach. He is worth watching, but not rostering at this point.
*Late Thursday News*: Tyler Naquin was traded to New York. There is not anybody notable worth adding from the Reds because of this trade.
Kevin Newman has fully taken over the leadoff role since returning from the IL. Since returning, he is batting just .255 and has showed little power throughout his career. I expect Newman to shift down in the lineup soon and he is not worth adding. Michael Chavis has found himself out of the lineup most games. He was batting in the middle of the lineup consistently, but the Pirates seem to finally be moving on. Ben Gamel is batting cleanup now for Pittsburgh. He is slugging under .400 on the season. If Gamel is not traded in the next week, I expect him to also move down in the lineup.
Oneil Cruz is amid a six-game hit streak. The strikeouts continue to be a major concern this year. He is striking out over 35% of the time and during the hot streak it has been even higher. He has high value in dynasty leagues, but I am skeptical of his 2022 value.
There have not been many notable changes to Arizona’s lineup. Carson Kelly moves up and Jordan Luplow enters the lineup against lefties. Alek Thomas moves down and David Peralta is on the bench against them. Carson Kelly has been excellent recently. Since June 26, he is batting .367/.426/.733. The BABIP is unsustainable, but he has significantly reduced his strikeout rate while posting a barrel rate over 13%. The average will come down, but the power and overall success seem legit. If Kelly is available, he should be picked up. Daulton Varsho continues to play every day in the outfield. Kelly is the more intriguing fantasy option in my opinion.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner missed several games this week with a shoulder injury. He returned to the lineup on Wednesday. Trayce Thompson also continues to play every day at the bottom of the lineup. Thompson is batting .301 with three home runs since joining the Dodgers. His numbers continue to be inflated by a .452 BABIP. The barrel rate and exit velocity numbers have been impressive and I do not think it is impossible for him to keep hitting for decent power. However, I expect his average to come crashing down.
Gavin Lux has been moving up in the lineup while Cody Bellinger has started moving down. Lux has been barreling up more baseballs lately while hitting over .300 in the month of July. Lux already has strong pull rates and if he can start getting the ball in the air more, he should see the home runs start coming in bunches. There is a lot to be excited about in dynasty for Lux and he will continue at the very least to produce solid average and runs in 2022! Bellinger has two home runs since the All Star Break, but he only has one other hit. Bellinger does not seem like he will ever hit for decent average again.
San Diego Padres
The Padres have not experienced any significant changes to their lineup. Esteury Ruiz is still on the roster but has not been in the lineup with any consistency. Even with C.J. Abrams banged up, the Padres are hesitant to start Ruiz. Wil Myers is nearing a return to the Padres which could result in one of Ruiz and Abrams being optioned back to AAA. Myers figures to see playing time over both Trent Grisham and Nomar Mazara. Trent Grisham is a true center fielder and far superior in the field to Wil Myers and Nomar Mazara. However, he has struggled at the plate hitting just .188 on the season.
Another injury to remember is Fernando Tatis Jr. He took batting practice this week and could ramp up to facing live pitching at some point next week. He is still a few weeks away from returning, but it is worth fantasy managers remembering. When he returns, Ha-Seong Kim will move into a bench role for San Diego.
Connor Joe has been battling general soreness. This has caused him to miss several games before returning on Thursday. In his absence, Charlie Blackmon hit leadoff and Garret Hampson was in the lineup on a regular basis. Hampson has been playing regularly since about July 9. Since that date, he is batting .316 with three stolen bases. We can start with the good: During that stretch, Hampson has four of his five total barrels on the season, his chase percentage is down, and his contact rates are up. The bad? Hampson has a .462 BABIP and a pull rate under 20%. For Hampson to be fantasy relevant he will have to continue playing every day and provide a lot of stolen bases. I am not buying into Hampson yet. With Hampson in the lineup, Yonathan Daza has found himself on the bench more often.
San Francisco Giants
Evan Longoria is on the IL with a hamstring strain and is expected to miss a few weeks. The Giants have faced a lot of lefties over the past week. This has been bad news for Mike Yastrzemski and Joc Pederson owners. Austin Slater and Darin Ruf have seen most of the playing time against lefties. An encouraging sign is that Brandon Belt has been in the lineup most games this week even with lefties on the mound. He has been swinging it extremely well at the plate recently. The question with Belt is never talent, but his ability to stay healthy. Ride the hot streak while he is healthy, but I am skeptical of him avoiding injuries for the rest of the season.
*Late Thursday News*: Luis Gonzalez is dealing with back soreness. He was out of` the lineup Thursday night. Any serious injury could result in more consistent playing time for Joc Pederson or Mike Yastrzemski.