Max Muncy mashing lefties? Alex Verdugo, David Bote, Wilmer Flores and Yangervis Solarte picking up some extra playing time? It’s just part of what’s been going on in National League lineups lately. Here is this week’s rundown.
The only change of note for the Diamondbacks in recent days is that Jarrod Dyson may be falling out of favor against righties. In two of the team’s last five games against right-handed starters, Ketel Marte has gotten the nod in center field, with Flores taking over at second base. Flores is starting to heat up, going 5 or his last 12, so maybe this trend has some lasting power.
Even before Josh Donaldson missed the last three games with a calf injury, Johan Camargo had started four of five games — each at a different position. He is still not hitting particularly well (6 for his last 27 with one triple), but he is just a year removed from slashing .272/.349/.457. He is currently in the top 20 percent in average exit velocity on ground balls, which could bode well for his BABIP and overall batting average going forward. If Camargo continues to start over the weekend, he should be on the radar of owners in 15-team mixed leagues as a possible add.
The falling fortunes and playing time of Ben Zobrist has lifted Bote. Zobrist has been out of the Cubs’ starting lineup for each of their last three games against right-handed starters, and for the first two of those, Kris Bryant moved to right field, opening up third base for Bote. Bryant served as DH for the Cubs’ two-game series in Seattle, so Bote got those starts as well (though he likely would have started on Wednesday against lefty Marco Gonzales no matter what). Bote has actually been hitting better against righties (.365 wOBA) than lefties (.337 wOBA), so he may be transitioning into more of a full-time role.
After sitting out Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks, Zobrist suggested to Joe Maddon that Bote start for him again on Sunday, even with right-handed Luke Weaver set to start for Arizona. This implies that Maddon may have been previously inclined to start Zobrist in that game, so Bote may need to keep hitting in order to remain in the lineup against righties.
The Derek Dietrich experiment at second base appears to be over, as Jose Peraza has started four straight games there against right-handed starters. Could this be the beginning of a new Dietrich-as-superutility-player era? The former Marlin started in left field against the Mets on Wednesday and at first base on Thursday.
If the Rockies don’t have an outfield rotation, they are at least on the verge of having one. Raimel Tapia has started three straight games, and a different outfielder has sat to make way for him in each game. Between April 16 and 27, Ian Desmond had started only half of the Rockies’ 10 games, and only one of the games he sat was due to injury. It was starting to look as if he was going to bear the brunt of Tapia’s increased playing time, but he is 4 for 13 with two home runs and a double over his last four games. Desmond may be in the process of salvaging his playing time.
Verdugo has started two of the three games the Dodgers have played since A.J. Pollock has been out with an infection in his right elbow. With Pollock having surgery to have hardware removed from the elbow, he could be out for several weeks at minimum, so Verdugo has an opportunity to play much more regularly. Muncy started at second base on Tuesday against the Giants, even with lefty Drew Pomeranz on the mound. Then Muncy faced another lefty starter — Madison Bumgarner — on Wednesday. He started at first base, though David Freese was dealing with a bruised ankle. It was the first time since April 5 that Freese did not start at first base against a left-handed starter.
Muncy may still not be an everyday player, but with a .382 wOBA against lefties so far, he could get in more than the occasional start versus southpaws.
Rosell Herrera started in center field against the Indians on Wednesday, but Isaac Galloway could be the main beneficiary in light of Lewis Brinson’s demotion to Triple-A New Orleans. Galloway had made six starts in center field in the 10 games prior to Brinson’s demotion, and he has started three of the last four games.
With six starts in the last eight games, Jon Berti appears to be settling in as the Marlins’ primary third baseman. Martin Prado got the other two starts at third base, but he has also been part of the mix at first base, along with Neil Walker, Miguel Rojas and Garrett Cooper. Walker has been out of the starting lineup for the last five games, as he has been dealing with a sore left hamstring.
Jesus Aguilar is finally finding his power groove, and he had made four straight starts prior to Thursday’s game against the Rockies. He had been losing playing time to Eric Thames, but he appears safe to start in fantasy now. Aguilar’s resurgence has not meant an end to Thames’ playing time, as he has started three straight games, including two in right field in place of the injured Christian Yelich (back). The reigning National League MVP should be back soon, so Thames will probably not play as often, but he could conceivably be part of the mix in left field. Ryan Braun has started only three of the last six games, but Thames will also have to contend with Ben Gamel, who has made four straight starts.
Travis Shaw was left out of the starting lineup on Sunday and Monday with lefties starting for the opposition in both games. Mike Moustakas started at third base for those games, while Hernan Perez took over for Moustakas at second base.
The Mets’ lineup has been largely stable lately, with Todd Frazier starting nearly every game at third base, and Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo settling in at left field and center field, respectively. Juan Lagares did pick up consecutive starts in center field on Monday and Tuesday against the Reds, displacing Nimmo to left field and McNeil to second base in place of an injured Robinson Cano (hand). Nimmo frequently led off earlier this season, but he has batted sixth in five of the last seven games. Meanwhile, McNeil has now led off in eight consecutive contests.
With the return of Jean Segura, order has been restored to the Phillies’ lineup and batting order. The only alteration from the steady lineups of the first two weeks is Andrew McCutchen’s move from left field to center field to fill in for Odubel Herrera (hamstring) and the apparent platoon of Nick Williams and Sean Rodriguez in left field. The Phillies could have their full complement back soon with Herrera possibly returning Sunday.
The return of Starling Marte on Tuesday has not meant a move to the bench or minors for Bryan Reynolds. He started in left field on Tuesday and Wednesday, though both games were in Texas, where the Pirates had the benefit of a DH slot. At least one of Reynolds and Melky Cabrera should be able to stay in the lineup for a while longer, as Corey Dickerson has had a setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is currently shut down from baseball activities.
Colin Moran has now started 11 consecutive games against right-handed starters, and four of his last five starts have been at third base. For now, we can only count on Jung Ho Kang to start against lefties.
Ever since getting activated from the IL on April 21, Elias Diaz has started four of the Pirates’ 10 games behind the plate. That has meant more time off for Francisco Cervelli, but the rest may be helping him. He is 4 for his last 15 (.267) with a .353 OBP over his last five games.
After batting leadoff in his first two major league games, Cole Tucker has led off just once in his last nine games. He has batted no higher than seventh in his other appearances.
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s hamstring injury and subsequent IL stint has created more playing time for Ty France, who has started three straight games at third base, moving Manny Machado to shortstop. Since Tatis went down with his injury, the Padres have employed three different leadoff hitters: Greg Garcia, Wil Myers and Ian Kinsler. It may not be worth the trouble to track the Padres’ leadoff spot, since Tatis could be back as soon as May 10.
Gerardo Parra could be out as a starting outfielder, as he did not start either of the final two games of the Giants’ series with the Dodgers this week. It appears he may be getting replaced by a platoon of Solarte and Tyler Austin in left field. Solarte and Austin have also been hitting in the second spot in the batting order, with Joe Panik hitting leadoff for each of the last three games with a right-handed starter.
After remaining on the bench for four games after getting activated from the IL on April 24, Harrison Bader is back in the Cardinals’ lineup. He has now started four straight games in center field. Tyler O’Neill got the nod in right field for Thursday’s game against the Nationals, but prior to that, Jose Martinez received 14 consecutive starts there.
As expected, Matt Adams has been filling in for Ryan Zimmerman (foot), while Howie Kendrick has received the bulk of the playing time at third base with Anthony Rendon (elbow) out. Adams has also hit in the cleanup spot for the last three games.
Carter Kieboom got the first six starts at shortstop upon his callup, but Wilmer Difo has now made three straight starts, playing one game each at second base, third base and shortstop. Juan Soto has been out of the lineup for the last two games with back spasms, providing a chance for Michael A. Taylor to make a couple of 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.