The Diamondbacks’ promotion of Josh Rojas has created some unexpected fallout, while the Rockies, Phillies and Cardinals have given their outfields a new look. Here are the most noteworthy lineup changes for each National League team.
The Diamondbacks have used a number of different platoons throughout the season, but a brand new one may be emerging between David Peralta and Adam Jones. Peralta has been out of the lineup for four of the last six games featuring a lefty starter, while Jones has started only once over the last seven games with a righty starter, including Friday night’s game against Jeff Samardzija and the Giants. The apparent beneficiary of Peralta’s and Jones’ reduced playing time is Rojas, who has started four of the team’s five games since he was called up to make his major league debut on Monday. For the one game he didn’t start, Tim Locastro got the nod in left field over Peralta versus lefty Kyle Freeland. Locastro has since been demoted to Triple-A Reno.
Things escalated quickly for Adam Duvall. As recently as last Saturday, he was established as the Braves’ regular left fielder. Then he was out of the lineup for three of the next four games, starting only against lefty Steven Matz. On Friday, the Braves demoted him, along with Johan Camargo, to Triple-A Gwinnett, while signing Adeiny Hechavarría. Charlie Culberson should see an uptick in playing time, getting starts at shortstop and in the outfield (along with Matt Joyce), while Hechavarria could share some of the load at shortstop.
Aside from Jason Heyward missing a pair of starts due to knee inflammation, the only other lineup development of note is the emergence of Ian Happ as the primary second baseman. Happ has now started six of the last eight games at the keystone, and he also filled in for Heyward in center field on Wednesday against the Phillies. With the demotion of Albert Almora Jr. and promotion of Addison Russell on Friday, it’s conceivable that Happ will start playing more center field, while Russell could see time at second base.
Just when it looked as if Josh VanMeter was going to play steadily as the left-handed half of a second base platoon, the Reds went out and claimed Freddy Galvis on waivers from the Blue Jays. Galvis has started the last two games at second base and is in the lineup there again for Friday night’s game against the Cardinals. All three games have been against a right-handed starter, and David Bell has said Galvis is “going to play a lot at second base,” perhaps hinting that he will start against lefties, too.
VanMeter is versatile enough that he could still get a reasonable amount of playing time in a utility role. He has been the starter on both Thursday and Friday nights as the replacement at first base for Joey Votto, who has been sitting with a tight back. Further good news for VanMeter is that he has been splitting time between the second and fourth spots in the batting order in most of his recent starts. Aristides Aquino has also been frequently batting as the cleanup hitter, and he has batted fifth when VanMeter has filled that role.
The Rockies apparently want to get more of a look at Yonathan Diaz, who has started three of the last four games against righties in place of Ian Desmond. He will do so again on Friday night against the Marlins. Since David Dahl went on the IL on Aug. 3 with a high ankle sprain, Raimel Tapia has been in the starting lineup for 10 of 12 games. In both of the games for which he was out of the starting lineup. the Rockies were opposed by a left-handed starter.
Alex Verdugo (oblique) and Chris Taylor (forearm) are not on the verge of returning, so the Dodgers’ lineup should be fairly stable for awhile. Regulars are pretty well settled in at most positions, except for the outfield corners. Matt Beaty and Kyle Garlick figure to keep splitting time in left field, and Joc Pederson and Kristopher Negrón will ostensibly take care of right field.
The Marlins’ lineup has been as stable as it has been all season, but that may change now that Neil Walker has returned from an IL stint for a sprained finger. On Friday night against the Rockies, he is starting at first base in place of Garrett Cooper, who had recorded a base hit in seven straight games. However, Cooper has only one extra-base hit over his last 69 plate appearances, and he has not homered since July 16. He could be a stronger candidate to lose playing time, at least against righties, than Jon Berti (.924 OPS since July 31), though Cooper could take away some starts from Harold Ramirez, who has a .616 OPS since the beginning of July.
Now that Christian Yelich is back from his four-game hiatus due to back issues, it’s hard to get a handle on what Trent Grisham’s playing time might look like. Over the last three games since Yelich returned to the starting lineup, Grisham has started the lone game against a righty while sitting for Ryan Braun in the two games with an opposing lefty starter. It’s too soon to assume that Craig Counsell is going with a straight platoon, but if the pattern persists, that gives Grisham some appeal in 12-team leagues. This is especially the case since he has hit leadoff in his last five games against a right-handed starter.
With Jeff McNeil on the IL with a strained hamstring, Juan Lagares is getting regular play in center field with Michael Conforto shifting to right field. McNeil had also served as Joe Panik’s platoon partner at second base, but now that job falls to Rubén Tejada. Amed Rosario has moved up a spot in the batting order to fill in for McNeil as the Mets’ leadoff hitter.
Left field and center field are the only positions that don’t feature an everyday starter, but they are starting to look more like rotations than platoons. Corey Dickerson started on Tuesday against Cubs lefty José Quintana, Adam Haseley was in the lineup on Wednesday versus southpaw Cole Hamels, and then he sat for Roman Quinn on Friday night against righty Chris Paddack. None of the three figure to play regularly, but it may be harder to predict when each will start than we anticipated.
Just-promoted Logan Morrison is starting in place of Rhys Hoskins (hand) on Friday night against the Padres, but he will be available off the bench. Gabe Kapler anticipates that Hoskins will be back in the starting lineup on Saturday.
On Wednesday, José Osuna began serving his five-game suspension for his role in the July 30 brawl between the Pirates and Reds. The team recalled Cole Tucker from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, but he was not in starting lineup for Friday night’s series opener against the Cubs. Tucker reportedly is up to provide depth temporarily while Osuna is out. Over the remaining four games in Osuna’s suspension, Pablo Reyes figures to get a brief bump in playing time, both as Colin Moran’s platoon partner at third base and in right field.
The Padres placed Fernando Tatis Jr. on the IL on Friday, and he is probably out for the rest of the season with a stress reaction in his lower back. They called Ty France up from Triple-A El Paso, and he will take over second base duties with Luis Urías moving to shortstop. Since July 13, France had batted .451 with eight home runs for El Paso.
Wil Myers and Josh Naylor have been splitting starts in left field, while Margot and Hunter Renfroe have been playing regularly. With Friday’s recall of Travis Jankowski, there is a chance that playing time in the outfield could get shuffled yet again.
The most notable lineup changes for the Giants have come in the outfield and behind the plate. Austin Slater has made six straight starts in right field, while Mike Yastrzemski’s role has been reduced to a platoon in left field with Joey Rickard. It now appears that the playing time split between Buster Posey and Stephen Vogt at catcher is becoming more even. They had alternated starts over the last nine games, but Posey is in the starting lineup for Friday night’s contest in Arizona, giving him back-to-back starts.
Marcell Ozuna and Dexter Fowler have been fixtures in the outfield, but the third spot appears to be up for grabs. José Martínez (shoulder) went on the IL on Monday, leaving Tommy Edman, Lane Thomas and Randy Arozarena to battle for playing time. Over the last four games, Thomas and Arozarena made two starts apiece, but Edman supplanted them on Friday night against the Reds.
Brian Dozier missed starts last Sunday and Monday due to salmonella, but he has sat to make way for Asdrúbal Cabrera on three other occasions over the last seven games. Though Dozier is in the lineup for Friday night’s game against the Brewers, he may no longer be the Nationals’ primary second baseman.
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.