NL Lineup Analysis (5/31/19)

This week’s lineup analysis includes some not-so-great news for Keston Hiura, but some encouraging developments for Matt Carpenter and Kyle Schwarber

Arizona

Christian Walker hasn’t lost much playing time to Kevin Cron, having started five of the seven games since the latter first baseman’s callup. Cron is now out of the picture, having been optioned back to Triple-A Reno after Thursday’s game. During the Cron Era, Walker was just 3 for 22 with six strikeouts, with two of those hits (including a home run) coming on Thursday.

The absence of David Peralta (shoulder) has given Tim Locastro and Blake Swihart more of a chance to play, though neither one is starting enough to raise their fantasy profile. Since Peralta was last in the Diamondbacks’ lineup on May 21, Locastro has made five starts and Swihart has started four times.

With Wilmer Flores on the IL with a fractured foot, Ildemaro Vargas has stepped right into his role, starting at second base against lefties and splitting the starts versus righties with Ketel Marte. Vargas has responded well to the increased playing time, going 10 for 27 (.370) since getting called up on May 21. During that time, Vargas has seen 116 pitches and whiffed on only three of them. He has also been hitting high in the order, batting second four times and leadoff once since his callup.

Atlanta

Nothing to see here. Aside from the batteries, Brian Snitker has rolled out the same lineup five games in a row, and it would have been six straight if not for starting Charlie Culberson over Nick Markakis on May 23.

Chicago

With Kris Bryant out and the Cubs getting a DH for their series in Houston, David Bote has started four games in a row. He responded well, going 7 for 14 with two home runs and a double. In all likelihood, he won’t start much against righties, now that Bryant is back and the DH spot is gone. Then again, if Joe Maddon wants to play the hot hand, he could start Bote over Daniel Descalso (.094 in May) at second base.

Similarly, the loss of the DH spot likely means a sharp decrease in playing time for Addison Russell.

As for Schwarber…he’s not just for righties anymore. He has received four starts over the last five games featuring an opposing lefty starter. Given that Schwarber is 10 for 32 (.313) with two home runs versus left-handed pitchers, that trend could stick. He has also been the Cubs’ leadoff hitter for 14 games in a row.

Cincinnati

Joey Votto has missed three straight games with a tight hamstring, so Derek Dietrich has moved over to first base with Jose Peraza picking up some playing time at second base. Dietrich even started on Wednesday against Pirates lefty Steven Brault, marking his first start against a southpaw this season. With Votto returning to the lineup on Friday, Peraza will likely revert to his prior platoon role.

Colorado

Much to the chagrin of owners who spent copious quantities of FAAB dollars on Brendan Rodgers, he is splitting time with Ryan McMahon at second base. Since making his May 17 debut, Rodgers has started just seven of 13 games at second base. He has also received one start at shortstop.

Even with Charlie Blackmon (calf) out, Ian Desmond is not playing quite every day. In the seven games since Blackmon’s last appearance, Desmond has made five starts — all in center field. Yonathan Daza has made the other two starts. In Blackmon’s absence, Raimel Tapia has moved into the leadoff spot. He had been typically batting either fifth or sixth.

Los Angeles

Enrique Hernandez and Alex Verdugo have gone from being everyday players to splitting time with each other in center field. That has opened up playing time for Matt Beaty, who has started three games at first base and two games in left field over the last seven games. He is not playing or producing enough (10 for 36 with one double) to merit attention in most mixed leagues, but he is putting a dent in Hernandez’s and Verdugo’s value for now.

Miami

Not much has changed in the Marlins’ lineup, though Neil Walker’s quad strain could mean more playing time for Martin Prado in the short term. Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper continue to play steadily in center and right field, while Curtis Granderson and Austin Dean have something close to a straight platoon in left field.

Milwaukee

When I play my catcher too many games in a row in my Dynasty League Baseball Online league, he wears out and is unproductive. When the Brewers start Yasmani Grandal 12 games in a row, he respond with six hits over two games with a pair of home runs.

First base belongs to Eric Thames for the time being. He started eight of the last nine games there, and even with Travis Shaw (wrist) due to return on Tuesday, he figures to remain as the Brewers’ primary first baseman. To make room for Shaw, Hiura will likely be sent back down to Triple-A San Antonio.

Even though Ben Gamel is typically playing only three or four games a week when all of the starting outfielders are healthy, he has scored 23 runs in 148 plate appearances. Gamel rarely bats higher than sixth in the order, and he has led off in only seven games.

New York

Mickey Callaway has settled into a mostly steady pattern with his injury replacements. Adeiny Hechavarria has started every game at second base since Robinson Cano (quad) went on the IL. Carlos Gomez has started 10 of the last 11 games, and J.D. Davis has started seven of the last nine, so they have picked up most of the slack for Brandon Nimmo (neck, whiplash) and Jeff McNeil (hamstring). Amed Rosario is filling in for McNeil as the leadoff hitter, while Davis has batted second in each of his last seven starts.

Philadelphia

Scott Kingery has started each of the Phillies’ three games since Odubel Herrera was placed on administrative leave subsequent to his arrest for simple assault following a domestic violence incident. Two of those starts were in Herrera’s place in center field, but one was at third base. Kingery and Nick Williams (in left field, with Andrew McCutchen shifting to center field) should pick up most of the playing time in Herrera’s absence for the foreseeable future, as Roman Quinn’s recovery from a groin strain has hit a snag.

Pittsburgh

Bryan Reynolds continues to play regularly in left field, while Gregory Polanco is still sitting every third or fourth game. That pattern, combined with a 3 for 22 slump (with 11 strikeouts), makes it difficult to start Polanco, even in 14- and 15-team mixed leagues.

Kevin Newman has been steadily ratcheting up his playing time, and he has now been in the starting lineup for six of the last seven games. Four of those starts have come at the expense of Cole Tucker at shortstop. Newman has also been the leadoff hitter for two of the Pirates’ last three games. If his .398 OBP doesn’t fade much, it’s conceivable he could supplant Adam Fraizer (.299 OBP) in that role on a more permanent basis.

San Diego

Austin Hedges hasn’t been an iron man on the level of Grandal, but he has started eight of the last nine games. That uptick in playing time has coincided with a 9 for 27 hot streak that has included two home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs.

Even with a pair of series in American League parks, Manuel Margot has mustered only two starts in the last six games. He is clearly the odd man out of the Padres’ outfield rotation. Josh Naylor took advantage of the extra spot for a hitter (and a minor shoulder injury for Franmil Reyes), starting five of those contests. Now that the Padres are embarking on a homestand, it’s not clear what Naylor’s role will be, and whether he will cut into the playing time of Reyes, Renfroe and/or Wil Myers.

Greg Garcia is in the midst of his most extended run of regular playing time, starting eight of the last 10 games. He has served as the Padres’ leadoff hitter in each of those starts. Garcia has been taking time away from both Ian Kinsler and Ty France. There will only be room for one of the three to play regularly once Fernando Tatis Jr. (hamstring) returns, but there is no reason to think it can’t be Garcia, who is 10 for his last 32 (.313).

San Francisco

The only development of note this week is the promotion of Mike Yastrzemski and his settling in as the new regular left fielder. It’s been a struggle so far for the 28-year-old rookie, as he is 4 for 18 with seven strikeouts and one walk.

St. Louis

Jose Martinez is seeing the least playing time of the Cardinals’ four outfielders, as he has received three starts in the last eight games. Matt Wieters has started the last two games with Yadier Molina sitting with a tendon strain in his right thumb. Molina was placed on the IL on Friday (retroactive to Wednesday), so Wieters stands to see a large spike in playing time for now.

Carpenter has responded well since being moved from the leadoff spot to the fifth spot in the batting order, going 7 for 20 with two home runs. Dexter Fowler hit leadoff for the first five games after Mike Shildt made the move, but Kolten Wong batted at the top of the lineup on Thursday against the Phillies.

Washington

The lineup has been steady, other than at first base (and, of course, the batteries). Matt Adams has five of the last eight starts there, with Howie Kendrick getting the other three.

We hoped you liked reading NL Lineup Analysis (5/31/19) by Al Melchior!

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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.

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Creamy
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Creamy

thanks for alerting us to these playing time developments . . .