Mining the Lineups & News (5/14/21) by Jeff Zimmerman May 15, 2021 • It’s going to harder for players to be promoted from AA to the major than from AAA. One other note: As The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported, it will be more difficult for Double-A players to go directly to the majors this year. Triple-A players, operating under similar health and safety protocols as big leaguers, have a clear path to promotion. Double-A players would need to undergo extra steps, including a quarantine period and intake testing. This news comes into play with Adalberto Mondesi who is in AA. If the information from Rosenthal is true, Mondesi must be a ways off from joining the Royals. American League Angels • The team runs out similar lineups depending on the available players (e.g. Rendon is on the IL). • Jose Rojas (.191/.257/.353) has moved up to hitting sixth. I’m not sure why. • Taylor Ward (.185/.207/.444, 2 HR) is playing in left field and batting seventh. Astros • It’s set in stone besides Aledmys Díaz giving regulars a day off. Athletics • With the order changing depending on the handedness of the starting pitcher, all the players remain in the lineup except the Seth Brown – Stephen Piscotty right-field platoon. • Matt Chapman (.212/.316/.386) has moved down to hitting fifth or sixth. • Elvis Andrus’s slow start might be from bad habits he picked up while playing through an injury. Bush said Friday that it’s possible that Andrus’ slow start could be due to the lingering back issues he dealt with last year, and that he could’ve developed some bad habits. Andrus has been working on holding his hitting position better and staying behind the ball in the batting cage, and Bush is optimistic that that work will translate into games. Blue Jays • No changes at all except the rare day off. • Since being recalled Rowdy Tellez has a .692 OPS. Indians • Jordan Luplow (vs LHP) and Andrés Giménez (RHP) with Amed Rosario (started 10 of last 13while hitting .325/.357/.550) changing positions. • Josh Naylor has started 11 straight games while hitting .274/.329/.438 over the last month. Mariners • A pathetic lineup (.639 OPS as a team). • Jarred Kelenic started for the first time on Thursday and he took Taylor Trammell’s (.593 OPS) spot in left field. • Evan White (.439 OPS) is now batting eighth or ninth. • J.P. Crawford’s adjustments have paid off. Crawford had just five hits in Spring Training, so he set out to make adjustments with hitting coach Tim Laker and assistant Jarret DeHart. The result has transformed him into a far more consistent hitter. Crawford has reached base in 23 of his past 26 games, his three hits on Friday were a season-high and he raised his wRC+ — a park, league and era-neutral metric where 100 is league average — to 102. … Crawford has been on the fastball all year, hitting a career-best .281 against heaters, per Statcast, but the big uptick the Mariners have seen is against offspeed and breaking balls. Servais attested this improvement to Crawford having another year of experience under his belt. Orioles • Ryan Mountcastle has moved back up to hitting cleanup after hitting .283/.292/.457 over the past two weeks. • Freddy Galvis (.279/.339/.481, 4 HR) is hitting 5th. • Maikel Franco has moved down to batting sixth after hitting .103/.167/.128 over the past two weeks. • With Rio Ruiz struggling (.546 OPS), don’t be surprised to see Jahmai Jones (.924 OPS) or Rylan Bannon (.780 OPS) get the call. I’d expect Jones to get the call first since he has been playing second base in AAA. Both are on my radar because they are on the initial Voit Muncy rankings. It's been 1.5 years since I've run my Voit-Muncy hitter finder.https://t.co/2fBckJLc6m Here is the first update with no age restriction and a min of 20 PA. Two names should not be a surprise. pic.twitter.com/BmMypFKFk5 — Jeff Zimmerman (@jeffwzimmerman) May 10, 2021 Rangers • David Dahl (vs RHP) and Khris Davis (vs LHP) are platooning at DH. • With Brock Holt (.673 OPS) on the IL, Charlie Culberson (.785 OPS, 2 SB) has been playing third base every day. • Nate Lowe (.283/.381/.469, 7 HR, 4 SB) has hit in the third spot for 11 straight games. Rays • Since the sixth, Brandon Lowe (vs RHP) and Mike Brosseau (vs LHP) are in a second base platoon. • Manuel Margot (.614 OPS, 4 SB) has started eight of the last 10 while hitting near the top of the lineup. • Brett Phillips (.639 OPS, 4 SB) has started eight straight. • Willy Adames (.546 OPS, 4 HR) has started 13 of the last 15. • Both Phillips and Adames have been hitting in the last two lineup spots. The Rays have historically replaced the worst hitter when they add a new one. If the Rays promote Wander Franco (.959 OPS) and/or Vidal Bruján (1.178 OPS) after the Super-2 date, expect Adames and Phillips to lose playing time first. Red Sox • Stable. • With Enrique Hernandez out, Michael Chavis (vs LHP) and Marwin Gonzalez (vs RHP) have been leading off. • Michael Chavis (vs LHP) and Franchy Cordero (vs RHP) are in a platoon. Royals • Look at this. The Royals move hot-hitting Andrew Benintendi (.910 OPS over the past two weeks) up to second and they lose seven straight. They go back to the old lineup and lose three more. Genius. • Over the past month, Hunter Dozier (.574 OPS) and Michael A. Taylor (.529 OPS) have been a mess. I will not be surprised if Edward Olivares gets promoted since in AAA he’s hitting (1.074 OPS, another Voit-Muncy All-Star), leading off, and playing center field. • On April 21st, Andrew Benintendi started using a new stance with outstanding results. The first night Benintendi tried his revised stance, he Barreled two baseballs — the first two he’d Barreled all season. The next night, in Detroit, he hit his first home run in a Royals uniform. Benintendi has recorded hits in all but one game since he made the adjustment — and propelled the Royals to a 6-2 record during this stretch. Tigers • This lineup is starting to resemble the Rays will no rhyme or reason to how players are ordered. • One of JaCoby Jones (.483 OPS), Akil Baddoo (.742 OPS), and Nomar Mazara (.619 OPS) has to sit each day. • On Tuesday, Miguel Cabrera played his tenth game at first base, so he should now be qualified there in most leagues. Twins • The comings and goings of several players to the IL have the lineup in flux. • Trevor Larnach (vs RHP) and Kyle Garlick (vs LHP) are in a platoon. • In two of the last three games (both vs RHP), Willians Astudillo (.801 OPS) started over Miguel Sano (.496 OPS) at first base. • Jorge Polanco is just getting his pre-injury mechanics back. Polanco has batted .309/.377/.500 with eight extra-base hits and seven walks in his last 20 games. He’s been putting in the work to get his pre-injury mechanics back. White Sox • Andrew Vaughn has started 12 of 13 in left field. With the regular playing time, he’s hitting .289/.404/.474 with one homer. • Leury García (.643 OPS) has started nine of 10, mainly in center field. • Yermín Mercedes (1.015 OPS) has only started eight of the last 13 games. He’s not playing in the field in NL parks. Also, when someone needs a break to DH (see Abreu), Mercedes sits. • Yasmani Grandal plans on either walking or crushing the ball. Yasmani Grandal entered Sunday’s series finale with the Royals featuring a rather interesting looking slash line of .121/.388/.259. … “I’m done swinging at pitches that they want me to swing at. If you make a mistake, I want to crush you. If you don’t, then I’m going to walk,” Grandal said during a Sunday Zoom. “You are hunting for a certain zone or a certain pitch. Yankees • The lineup has been steady at the top, but the bottom spots have been a mess to figure out with players coming and going to the IL and minors. • While Clint Frazier (.564 OPS) has not been hitting, he has started in 14 of 16 games. • Gary Sanchez (1.028 OPS over the last two weeks) has started four the last six games at catcher. National League Braves • Steady. • Austin Riley has heated up (.958 OPS over the past month) and is now hitting fifth. • Cristian Pache has started 11 straight in center field while hitting .091/.143/.212. Brewers • Since returning from the IL, Lorenzo Cain has started seven of 10 games. • Of the healthy outfielders, Tyrone Taylor has hit the best (.787 OPS), but he still loses playing time to Jackie Bradley Jr. (.532 OPS). • Daniel Vogelbach (vs RHP) and Pablo Reyes (vs LHP) are in a platoon. • Luis Urías is going to try to maintain an aggressive approach at the plate. “I was walking too much,” Urías said, “because probably I wasn’t feeling really good swinging my bat at the beginning of the year. I was trying to see more pitches. Right now, I feel pretty good with my swing, and I’m always trying to stay aggressive to make damage. If I walk, that’s fine. But I’m always trying to stay aggressive.” Urías said landing the everyday opportunities at shortstop has helped him improve offensively. Cardinals • As steady as they come. • Yadier Molina got slotted into the 6th spot since coming off the IL. He was hitting cleanup before getting hurt. Cubs • It started the season on nice and steady but has gotten to the point of starting something called Ildemaro Vargas at three different positions. • David Bote (.584 OPS over the past month) has started eight straight. • Matt Duffy (.689 OPS) has started 11 of 14 games. • Brailyn Márquez is six weeks behind everyone else because of COVID symptoms. More Cub news on LHP Brailyn Marquez.getting close to a minor assignment while still working out at Mesa complex.He had COVID before camp and appears to be six weeks behind on conditioning . Nothing from the Cubs on his next assignment but @jimcallisMLB said Double A Tennessee. — Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) May 7, 2021 Diamondbacks • Carson Kelly (1.103 OPS) has been batting second. • Daulton Varsho (.530 OPS, 0 SB) has started four of the last eight games in center field. Tim Locastro and he are splitting center field duties. • Asdrúbal Cabrera had hit third for four straight but he is headed to the IL (hamstring). Dodgers • The lineup has gotten back to being set. • Gavin Lux has started 14 of 15 games while posting a .245/.286/.321 slash line over that time. Giants • Consistent mess. • Wilmer Flores has started 11 straight games (.579 OPS). • Of the last 14 games, Brandon Crawford has started in only nine of them. • With Austin Slater dealing with injuries, Steven Duggar (.813 OPS) has started 10 of 12. Marlins • There are just too many bodies in the outfield for any one player to get full-time at-bats. Adam Duvall (.682 OPS) sits against lefties with Garrett Cooper (.553 OPS) and Corey Dickerson (.797 OPS) sharing time in the corner spots. Also, Magneuris Sierra (.556) and Lewis Brinson (.599) are sharing time in center. • Sandy León (.496 OPS) has taken over the full-time catching duties with Jorge Alfaro out. Mets • A consistent lineup every night. • Kevin Pillar (.689 OPS, 2 HR, 2 SB) is playing every day and batting sixth with Brandon Nimmo out. • Jonathan Villar (.685 OPS, 2 SB) is playing every day and batting seventh with J.D. Davis out. Nationals • While from the clean-up spot and lower constantly changes, it’s the same players each day. • Ryan Zimmerman (.736 OPS) and Josh Bell (.528 OPS) are splitting time at first base. Padres • Eric Hosmer (.813 OPS) is now sitting against lefty starters with Jake Cronenworth (.764 OPS) sliding over to first base and Tucupita Marcano (.182/.250/.227) at second. • The team has dealt with so many injuries that Patrick Kivlehan and Brian O’Grady have been starting. • MacKenzie Gore needs to improve his fastball command to get a major league callup. The Padres need Gore to be ready, and preferably soon. To earn a call-up, the lefty needs to display improved fastball command and more consistency with his secondary pitches. Gore has struggled without real competition since the end of the 2019 minor-league season. He is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut Friday, and the Padres believe a return to game settings will be a significant boon for the highly competitive 22-year-old. There’s also some thought that Gore might benefit by toning down his complicated delivery; a few talent evaluators have suggested that his movements are a bit too mechanical for someone so athletic. In ten minor league innings so far, he has four walks, hit a batter, and a wild pitch. Phillies • Another steady lineup. • Odúbel Herrera (.683 OPS) has started eight straight in center field. • Joe Girardi will stick with a single closer as long as possible. Girardi said Saturday that he planned to stick with Neris. He reiterated that stance on Sunday. “I’ve said all along that I prefer the roles and I prefer to have Alvarado in a spot where I can unleash him when you’re facing the toughest left-handed hitters,” Girardi said. “Coonrod against right-handers and Kintzler against right-handers. It’s the reason we chose to do this. If you look at Héctor’s numbers before last night, they’re pretty darn good. We can make a lot of one outing. I know he’s lost some games, but it’s been a tie game with a runner on second with nobody out. I haven’t made any changes. I haven’t thought about making any changes. Héctor made a bad pitch last night. That can happen in the seventh, too. It really comes down to execution.” • The Phillies expect Odúbel Herreraa to continue improving at the plate. They just need Herrera to keep it up. “Joe just felt like with a few days’ work that he was getting closer and closer and closer,” Girardi said. “He kept telling me, ‘He’s getting closer. He’s getting closer.’ He hasn’t had a lot of at-bats since 2019. He just hasn’t. I think he played one winter ball game. I think he had 50 at-bats at Spring Training and another 50 at the alternate [training] site.” Pirates • Maybe the Mariners and Pirates can have a pillow fight at some point this season. Wilmer Difo and Ben Gamel both don’t belong in a major league lineup, let alone both of them. • Kevin Newman forced himself into the top of the lineup by posting .522 OPS over the past two weeks. • Gregory Polanco (.620 OPS) is back from the IL and has hit fourth or fifth. Reds • Kyle Farmer (.635 OPS) has played shortstop for six straight games since Votto went on the IL. • Eugenio Suárez (.557 OPS) has moved down from fourth to sixth in the lineup. Rockies • Connor Joe (1.075 OPS) has started five of the last six at first base and hit second. • Alan Trejo (.657 OPS) has started three of four at second or short.