A path for an Austin Riley promotion, a new role for Jose Peraza and positive developments for Mac Williamson and Ian Kinsler are just some of the lineup developments in the National League in recent days. Here’s the breakdown for each team.
Wilmer Flores has been hitting well of late (.410/.452/.641 over his last 12 games), so he has been getting in the lineup more often. He has started six of the Diamondbacks’ last seven games and each of the last four, including the last three against right-handed starters. A different player has sat each time to make room for Flores, so as long as he keeps hitting, there is enough flexibility to keep him in the lineup on a close-to-everyday basis.
Torey Lovullo has yet to settle on a spot in the batting order for Ketel Marte against righties. He has been consistently slotted in at the second spot against lefties, but in his last four starts against right-handed pitchers, Marte has hit fifth, leadoff, second and sixth.
As Ender Inciarte has yet to get untracked at the plate, he is starting to lose some playing time. He has gone to the bench for three of the last five games against left-handed starters and for four of the last 12 games overall. For each of those games, Ronald Acuna Jr. has moved to center field with one of Johan Camargo, Matt Joyce or Charlie Culberson taking over in left field. On a related note, Riley started in left field for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, so with Acuna getting more acclimated in center field, we should wonder if the prospect may eventually supplant Inciarte in the Braves’ lineup.
Daniel Descalso has played sparingly over the last six days due to a sore ankle, and Ben Zobrist was placed on the restricted list on Wednesday, so that has meant more playing time for Albert Almora Jr. He has started four of the last six games, including two against right-handed starters. David Bote had already been playing more regularly, but he has now started seven straight games. Addison Russell, who replaced Zobrist on the Cubs’ roster, has now started two of the last three games at second base.
With Descalso and Zobrist out, Jason Heyward led off the last two games against right-handed starters.
Have we seen the last of Joey Votto, Leadoff Hitter? Nick Senzel has led off for the Reds in the last two games, with Votto batting second against the Athletics on Wednesday and out of the lineup entirely for Thursday’s finale. The outfield situation has stabilized, with Yasiel Puig in right field, Senzel in center field, and an apparent platoon of Jesse Winker and Peraza in left field. The plan at second base is less clear, though a platoon of Derek Dietrich and Kyle Farmer could emerge. Peraza and Josh VanMeter could be in that mix as well.
Raimel Tapia has seized something close to an everyday role, starting seven of the Rockies’ last eight games. He has also settled in at the lower part of the batting order, hitting no higher than sixth in 12 of his last 13 starts. Meanwhile, David Dahl and Ian Desmond have had a strict platoon in center field over the last six games, with each player getting three starts on the basis of handedness.
With A.J. Pollock out, the Dodgers have been going with a platoon of Alex Verdugo and Enrique Hernandez in center field to go along with the Joc Pederson/Chris Taylor platoon in left field. Max Muncy has been playing second base when Hernandez has been in the lineup in center field, which has turned Muncy into an everyday player. In turn, David Freese has been covering first base when Muncy has been playing the keystone.
Curtis Granderson and Peter O’Brien are sharing time in left field, though handedness does not seem to be a factor in determining which one gets the start. The split between Rosell Herrera and Isaac Galloway in center field looks more like a standard platoon, with Herrera getting the last two starts against righties and Galloway getting the last two starts versus lefties.
Jon Berti is now the regular third baseman, as he has started six of the last eight games and 11 of the last 15. Neil Walker and Martin Prado are now ensconced in a first base platoon, with Walker starting the last four games with an opposing right-handed starter and Prado getting the nod against the last two lefties.
As expected, the return of Christian Yelich has meant less playing time for both Eric Thames and Ben Gamel. Both players have started in only two of the five games since Yelich missed time with back problems. Craig Counsell has taken advantage of Mike Moustakas‘ surging production, batting him either third or fourth in his last 13 starts against right-handed starters.
Brandon Nimmo may be losing his grip on an everyday role, as he has been left out of the Mets’ starting lineup in two of the last five games. Once was against a lefty starter (Gio Gonzalez), but the other time was against righty Chris Paddack. Todd Frazier and J.D. Davis have been platooning at third base, and with Jed Lowrie (knee) possibly returning next week, Frazier could see a reduction in his playing time. Mickey Callaway did not specify a plan for getting Lowrie into the lineup, only saying that some regulars may not play as much. With Frazier batting .143, he would seem to be the most likely player to be impacted.
All of the regulars are back, so we are back to seeing the same Phillies lineup, day in and day out.
The easing-in process for Gregory Polanco appears to be over, as he has now started five games in a row. Also, Bryan Reynolds‘ run of semi-regular playing time looks like it’s over, as Melky Cabrera has three of the last four starts in left field.
For the Padres’ eight games played in May, Kinsler has hit leadoff for six of them. He has rewarded Andy Green for the decision by going 9 for 30 with two home runs and two doubles this month. Now Manuel Margot looks like the odd man out of the Padres’ outfield, having started only two of the last six games.
After getting four straight starts in left field, Mike Gerber was abruptly pushed aside with Williamson’s promotion from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. Williamson started on both Tuesday and Thursday at Colorado, and the team will be looking to him to play left field on a regular basis. The Giants also placed Buster Posey on the 7-day concussion IL on Thursday, so Aramis Garcia and Stephen Vogt will split the catching duties in his absence. It may be worth noting that when Vogt started on Monday against the Reds, he batted third.
Juan Soto (back) is expected to return on Saturday, so the recent run of starts by Michael A. Taylor is about to end. With the demotion of Carter Kieboom, Wilmer Difo is back to getting regular play at shortstop, though Trea Turner (finger) could be back as soon as two weeks from now.
With both Matt Adams (shoulder) and Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) out, Howie Kendrick figures to play close to regularly at first base. He has started three of the last five games there. Kendrick has also been hitting regularly in the heart of the order, batting third or fourth in each of his last 13 starts.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.