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NL Lineup Analysis 08/12

Another week of news and notes around baseball! After the frenzy of trades, familiar faces have settled into new places in new lineups. Over the past week, the five hottest hitters in the National League have been J.T. Realmuto, Nolan Arenado, Paul DeJong, Max Muncy, and Rhys Hoskins. For news and notes on lineups from all 15 National League teams, check out the rest of the article below!

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Now that Jean Segura is back with the Phillies, the lineup has remained fairly consistent over the past week. Darick Hall and Matt Vierling appear to be in a platoon. Hall is in the lineup and the DH against right-handed pitching, while Vierling enters the lineup against lefties. When Vierling is in, the Phillies have been rotating who gets to DH. J.T. Realmuto has been on fire recently for Philadelphia. Since the start of July, he is batting .344/.394/.699. His only competition for being named the best offensive catcher is Adley Rutschman, but Realmuto adds stolen bases. He is up to 13 steals on the season and continues to be the best catcher in baseball.

I am not sure how many of you follow Jeff Israel on Twitter, so I wanted to include a note from him here. In this link, you can see some of the changes Brandon Marsh has already started to make. The Phillies’ hitting coach Kevin Long is the same person who helped transform Kyle Schwarber’s swing and is somebody who has an excellent reputation for helping young hitters make adjustments. The sample size is extremely small, but Marsh has only struck out 17.6% of the time since joining Philadelphia which is far below the 36.2%, he was at with the Angels. Marsh is a great buy in dynasty and even redraft to see if these adjustments help Marsh reach his ceiling.

*Thursday night note*: Kyle Schwarber left the game on Thursday with a minor calf strain. The Phillies do not seem concerned about this.

New York Mets

I mentioned last week that Mark Canha could be losing playing time against righties and that is exactly what has continued to happen. The Mets knew exactly what they were doing at the deadline and added two players to get in the lineup against righties in Vogelbach and Naquin. Vogelbach has been nothing short of incredible since joining the Mets. He bats fifth in the lineup and is batting .341/.473/.568 as a Met. The plate discipline and power have been incredible, but the .440 BABIP is unsustainable. Vogelbach can be a useful fantasy asset down the stretch in deeper leagues, but there will be some regression to the mean this season.

Eduardo Escobar is another player that is in danger of losing playing time against right-handed pitching. Escobar has sat against two righties this week and is batting just .202 against them this season. Meanwhile, Luis Guillorme is batting .307 off them this year and I expect him to get most of the playing time at third down the stretch against righties.

Atlanta Braves

After acquiring Robbie Grossman, the Braves have made it a point to get him in the lineup. This week he has started most games after only appearing as a pinch hitter last week. He has not looked any better than he did in Detroit, and I do not think he is worth adding. Eddie Rosario is in the lineup against righties and not against lefties. He has been playing better since the All-Star break but is still far from the player he was last year. He has little fantasy value the rest of the way.

Travis d’Arnaud has been dealing with a leg injury. He is yet to be placed on the IL and the Braves expect him to return on Friday. With d’Arnaud out, William Contreras has been playing every day. Contreras’ 2022 value might never be higher than it is right now. Whenever d’Arnaud returns, he will likely continue to split time with Contreras behind the plate limiting both of their fantasy upsides. The Braves also called up top prospect Vaughn Grissom. Grissom has been excellent in the minors this year and should be added in all formats. He provides contact, power, and speed and I expect him to be a valuable fantasy contributor.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have turned to the youth after trading away their stars. Victor Robles has been getting a chance to lead off although he has been on the bench multiple times in the past week. Robles has stolen base upside but is not worth adding if the Nationals are not going to let him play every day. Luis Garcia has moved up to second in the lineup. His dynasty and keeper league value continues to be higher than his 2022 value.

Ildemaro Vargas has been getting regular playing time at the bottom of the lineup recently. Vargas has bounced around the MLB the past few years and has yet to demonstrate much in terms of offense. I do not expect Vargas to continue starting for very long and he has no fantasy relevance. I expect the Nationals to call up C.J. Abrams relatively soon from AAA. So far, he has only played SS in AAA for Washington which could signal their plans for him. In that situation, Cesar Hernandez could lose out on playing time.

Miami Marlins

I am unsure if the Marlins are easing Garrett Cooper back into action, if he is still dealing with wrist soreness, or if they are just intentionally benching him. He sat two straight games earlier this week and has been struggling since his return. He is the most impactful bat that the Marlins currently have healthy and there should be no reason he is not playing. Cooper’s fantasy outlook is blurred until this situation is cleared up. Bryan De La Cruz has been batting fourth in the lineup. There is no chance this continues for very long. He is batting .193 during the second half and has a 37 wRC+ since the start of August. De La Cruz will find himself on the bench more often in the near future.

Very small sample size, but Peyton Burdick has struck out in over 40% of his plate appearances. He has been playing every day at the bottom of the lineup. He has always had strikeout issues in the minors, and it looks like this could continue to be an issue. I am not adding him anywhere. Jon Berti is on a rehab assignment and should return in the next week. He figures to take time away from De La Cruz in the OF upon his return. Brian Anderson is also rehabbing and will be in the mix next week. Anderson will take the starting spot back from Charles Leblanc who has been filling in at 3B.

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NL Central

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are taking a shot on Franmil Reyes after he was DFA’d by Cleveland. Reyes has hit 30 home runs twice in his career and is still only 27. He should be in the lineup every day for Chicago batting in the middle of the order. If he can bring his strikeouts back down, Reyes could be a great add for your fantasy team. The Reyes signing likely reduces the playing time for Frank Schwindel and Nelson Velazquez. Both players were not in the lineup consistently and could struggle even more to find playing time.

Milwaukee Brewers

The only notable change to the Brewers lineup is Omar Narvaez landing on the IL. Victor Caratini has been playing every day in his absence. Keston Hiura is back for another stint in the majors. He has hit two home runs since returning but does not look like he has made any significant changes. Hiura’s upside continues to be tempting, but I remain out on him for fantasy purposes. After being one of the best hitters out of the All-Star Break, Hunter Renfroe has been in a slump. I think most of this boils down to luck. Since the start of August, he is batting .154 but has just a .222 BABIP. His batted ball profile has not changed, and Renfroe should break out of this slump soon.

One quick note on the prospect front. The Brewers promoted Sal Frelick to AAA recently. Frelick is a true CF which is exactly what the Brewers are missing. Tyrone Taylor has continued to be disappointing at the plate and the Brewers have options between Frelick and recently acquired Esteury Ruiz to replace Taylor. This situation is worth keeping an eye on.

St. Louis Cardinals

I mentioned last week that Brendan Donovan could be losing playing time and he looks to have officially lost his everyday lineup spot. He has been on the bench more than he has been in the lineup this week as the Cardinals get both Paul DeJong and Lars Nootbaar into the lineup. Nootbaar has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the start of August, batting .360/.438/.560. He is walking more than he is striking out, although the underlying statistics do not look very different from his season-long numbers. Juan Yepez is on a rehab assignment, and I expect him to factor into the playing time mix once he returns. There is a possibility that Yepez and Nootbaar end up in a platoon when both are healthy. I am proceeding with caution on Nootbaar as his consistent playing time could come to an end.

Cincinnati Reds

After trading away multiple players at the deadline, the Reds called up prospect Jose Barrero. He has been batting eighth in the lineup since joining the team. Barrero was batting just .209 in AAA with a strikeout rate over 37%. The power is there for Barrero which he demonstrated in 2021 by hitting 13 home runs in 45 games at AAA. I am struggling to buy into his hit tool developing unless he has a drastic change in approach at the plate. He swings at everything while failing to make consistent contact. I am out on Barrero in 2022 and beyond barring an overhaul to his approach. Kyle Farmer is now batting third but is without an extra-base hit since July 27. The power has disappeared, and Farmer is not worth rostering at this point.

*Thursday night note*: Jonathan India left the game on Thursday. He has had multiple injuries this season and this looks like it could be another one.

Pittsburgh Pirates

There is not a lot to note in terms of fantasy for Pittsburgh’s lineup. The front three hitters are Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds, and Ke’Bryan Hayes. After that the lineup changes daily. Oneil Cruz is in the lineup most nights sitting against lefties sometimes. The strikeouts continue to be a concern for Cruz who has not seemed to fully adjust to big league pitching yet.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jake McCarthy is an interesting name for fantasy. He has been in the Arizona lineup consistently over the past couple of weeks and even got a chance to lead off when Josh Rojas got a day off. McCarthy. He has seven stolen bases in just 163 plate appearances this year. He has not demonstrated much power and his quality of contact is below average, but he could be worth a look for anybody desperate for stolen bases. Seth Beer also continues to see consistent playing time but is batting just .143 since being recalled.

Los Angeles Dodgers

After being promoted last week, the Dodgers sent Miguel Vargas back to AAA. He doubled in his first big league at-bat, but only received two starts during his brief call-up. I continue to like Vargas as one of the best dynasty prospects in baseball. However, Justin Turner is back and will continue to be in the lineup every day for the Dodgers. Joey Gallo is getting a chance to start every day against righties. He has hit one home run and looks the same as he did in New York.

Even though he is healthy now, Chris Taylor seems like the odd man out most nights against righties. Gavin Lux has established himself as the starting second baseman and the Dodgers are insistent on giving Gallo a chance. If Gallo continues struggling, Taylor could take at-bats away from him. Max Muncy has been red hot at the plate recently and is finally looking healthy. He has three home runs since the start of August and could be huge down the stretch in fantasy. He did leave the game on Wednesday after being hit in the hand. This does not seem like a serious injury and should not impact Muncy’s production long-term.

San Diego Padres

With the new additions in San Diego, Wil Myers and Trent Grisham are in a platoon. Myers will be in the lineup against left-handed starters and Grisham is playing against righties. Both players are batting in the back half of the lineup when starting. Without consistent playing time, it is tough to roster either of them in fantasy. Although Brandon Drury has hit two big home runs for San Diego since joining the team, his overall numbers have already started to take a dip and I expect this to continue.

On the injury front, Jorge Alfaro has been dealing with a knee injury. This has allowed Austin Nola to gain more playing time. Nola has been playing well over the past week. I expect Alfaro and Nola to split time when both are healthy. Fernando Tatis Jr. is rehabbing with AA right now. He has been seeing time in both the OF and at SS and has a chance to return sometime next week. Tatis should slot into the top of the lineup which will move Profar to the bottom. The Padres’ willingness to play Tatis in CF is a good sign for Ha-Seong Kim to continue seeing playing time although not as much as he is now.

Colorado Rockies

Connor Joe has officially lost all his playing time. Joe has not been in the lineup at all this week and is a clear drop in all formats. Meanwhile, Elehuris Montero has been in the lineup each game batting as high as sixth. Montero has at least one hit in eight of nine games since being recalled and should be added in all formats. Montero is demonstrating improved contact and has above average power in his profile. Kris Bryant remains without a timetable to return which will allow Montero to stay in the lineup.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have continued with their platoons. The safest players over the past week have been Luis Gonzalez, Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Thairo Estrada. Everybody else appears to be a part of a platoon. J.D. Davis has been playing better since joining the Giants but is unlikely to ever get consistent playing time against righties. The Giants are committed to their approach which unfortunately hurts most of the players’ fantasy values. Even Luis Gonzalez is batting just .224 since the All-Star Break and could start to see his playing time decrease. If I were to invest in one player, it would be LaMonte Wade Jr. He is slugging .591 since the break and has power that can be useful in fantasy.

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