NL Lineup Analysis (8/2/19)

The trade deadline produced some playing time winners and losers across the National League. While it’s premature to know how some of these situations will play out, the Reds, Cubs and Phillies in particular already have some interesting developments that are worth paying attention to.

Arizona

It appears that Torey Lovullo has at least two platoons in place, with Jake Lamb and Christian Walker splitting time at first base and Jarrod Dyson and Wilmer Flores sharing a spot in the lineup (with Ketel Marte starting at second base versus righties and in center field versus lefties). Neither of these is a strict platoon, but these are the tendencies that Lovullo has shown over the past week. A third platoon may be developing, as David Peralta has received each of the last five starts in left field against a righty, but Tim Locastro has taken two of the last three against a left-handed starter.

Atlanta

The Braves’ lineup has become predictable once again. Brian Snitker has a strict platoon going with Ender Inciarte and Austin Riley, which has meant a severe decrease in playing time for Riley. That trend will continue, as the next four starters projected to face the Braves after Friday night’s game against the Reds are right-handed. Adam Duvall has started all seven games since Nick Markakis fractured his left wrist on July 26, and Johan Camargo has started at shortstop for nine straight games. That string of starts for Camargo will likely end when Dansby Swanson (foot) comes off the IL, possibly as soon as this Saturday.

Chicago

With the recent acquisitions of Nicholas Castellanos and Tony Kemp, the Cubs’ lineup is taking on a slightly different look. Ian Happ, who had started four games in a row in center field, has not started either of the last two games. Instead, Jason Heyward has shifted to center field with Castellanos taking his place in right field. After starting six of eight games at second base, Robel Garcia was sent back to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. David Bote got the first start at the keystone after Garcia was demoted, and since Kemp was acquired, he and Bote have each made one start apiece — both against right-handed starters. It seems safe to presume that right-handed Bote will get the bulk of the starts against lefties.

Heyward has hit in the leadoff spot in each of the three games played since Garcia was sent down. Castellanos has batted second in his two games as a Cub. Javier Báez, who had been frequently hitting second, has now hit in the fifth spot for six straight games.

Cincinnati

It’s too soon to say if the departure of Scooter Gennett could mean more playing time for José Peraza, but he has been in the starting lineup for both games since the trade deadline passed. That includes Friday night’s game against Braves, in which Peraza is listed as the starting shortstop in place of José Iglesias, even with right-handed Kevin Gausman starting against them. Aristides Aquino, who was recalled on Thursday, has also started both games in right field, so he could wind up being a bigger playing time beneficiary in the absence of Yasiel Puig than either Josh VanMeter or Phillip Ervin. At the very least, Aquino could be an integral part of an outfield rotation if his power (.337 ISO at Triple-A Louisville) translates to the major leagues.

As for who will assume Puig’s place in the cleanup spot, David Bell had Ervin hit there against left-handed Max Fried on Thursday night, and he batted VanMeter fourth on Friday night against Gausman.

Colorado

Aside from the three starts that Charlie Blackmon missed due to back spasms, it’s been largely the status quo for the Rockies. The one potential development is a first base platoon, as Daniel Murphy has been out of the starting lineup for two of the last three games against a lefty, with Yonder Alonso getting the nod both times.

Los Angeles

Cody Bellinger has started just one game at first base since May 3, but that’s about to change. Joc Pederson, who has made six errors at first base, will no longer play there, and Bellinger will move back from right field. If Pederson gets all or most of the starts in left field against right-handed starters, that could open up a platoon role for Kristopher Negrón. The 33-year-old was acquired from the Mariners last Sunday and has started the last three games. Bellinger’s shift to first base could also mean steadier playing time for Alex Verdugo, assuming he moves to right field. Tyler White has yet to play a major league game in right field, and Matt Beaty has played there just twice.

Since getting recalled on July 26, Will Smith has started five of six games behind the plate. Over this stretch, he has gone 8 for 17 (.471) with three home runs and four doubles. He is still out there in plenty of leagues.

Miami

Don Mattingly has ended César Puello’s run of everyday starts in center field, which has meant steadier playing time for Harold Ramirez. Over his last six games, Ramirez is 6 for 22 (.273) with two home runs and a triple. Puello has started the last two games, but one of those can be tied to Garrett Cooper being out with a tight hamstring. Neil Walker filled in at first, with Brian Anderson starting at third base and Ramirez starting in right field instead of center field. Cooper is listed as day-to-day.

Milwaukee

Trent Grisham made his major league debut on Thursday against the Athletics, getting the start in center field, while Lorenzo Cain went to the bench. He went 0 for 3 but drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. He was out of the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Cubs, but the best-case scenario for Grisham may be to force a rotation where he could alternate with Cain and Ryan Braun. The fact that Grisham batted ninth on Thursday may be a sign that the organization is looking to ease him in to his initial exposure to the majors.

The Brewers traded Jesús Aguilar to the Rays on Wednesday, and that night, Eric Thames started at first base against lefty Brett Anderson. That would have normally been an assignment for Aguilar, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Thames has inherited an everyday role. On Thursday, he was in the lineup as a designated hitter (with Travis Shaw at first base), and on Friday, Yasmani Grandal started at first base versus lefty José Quintana.

New York

The Mets did not add any bats before the deadline, and with Dominic Smith (foot) out until at least September, we should expect the team to have a stable lineup for the foreseeable future. J.D. Davis has made six straight starts since Smith’s injury (including Friday night’s game at Pittsburgh), and since June 30, he is batting .390 with two home runs.

Philadelphia

As has been the case for much of the season, the Phillies’ lineup has been generally steady, but it is on the verge of seeing some notable changes. With Wednesday’s trade for Corey Dickerson, Adam Haseley can shift from left field to center field, and Scott Kingery will take some playing time away from Maikel Franco at third base. It also means, according to a report from The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, that Jay Bruce will fill a reserve role when he returns, which could happen late next week.

While this account offers the possibility that Kingery may not play as much going forward, it’s conceivable that he could play more of a super-utility role and continue to receive steady starts. Already, though, it appears that Kingery has lost his status as the Phillies’ leadoff hitter. César Hernández has filled that role for three games running, while Kingery has fallen to the sixth spot in the order.

Pittsburgh

The departure of Dickerson should mean regular playing time for Melky Cabrera, and he started on Wednesday and is in the lineup for Friday night’s game against the Mets, with Jason Vargas starting. José Osuna could see occasional starts in the outfield as well, and he is likely to serve as Colin Moran’s platoon partner at third base, now that Jung Ho Kang has been designated for assignment.

San Diego

Wil Myers had started five games in a row before the trade deadline, and now that Franmil Reyes is in Cleveland, that streak is bound to continue. The outfield alignment of Myers, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe that the Padres had on Thursday night against the Dodgers is one we will probably be seeing a lot of.

San Francisco

Gennett will make his Giants debut on Friday night in Colorado, but the question remains whether he will play enough and hit enough to be relevant in mixed leagues. With Alex Dickerson (oblique) on the IL, Austin Slater should get plenty of playing time in the outfield. The Giants called up Steven Duggar on Friday, but he may be providing insurance for Kevin Pillar, who may be hurt after crashing into the outfield wall in Thursday’s game in Philadelphia.

The hot-hitting Mike Yastrzemski (10 for his last 21) is batting second for the fourth consecutive game on Friday night.

St. Louis

Since putting together a string of seven consecutive starts, Yairo Muñoz has started just one of the last four games. Five of the seven straight starts were in the outfield, but Mike Shildt has been favoring an outfield alignment of Tyler O’Neill, Dexter Fowler and José Martínez. That will be disrupted soon, as Marcell Ozuna (finger) is on the verge of returning.

Tommy Edman may get to continue his recent run of starts at third base, as there is currently no timetable for the return of Matt Carpenter (foot). As long as Edman is starting, he is worth a look in deeper leagues. He has started 15 of the last 16 games, and hit leadoff for each of those contests. Since July 17, he is batting .279 with three stolen bases.

Washington

The only intrigue for the Nationals is at first base, where Howie Kendrick has started three of four games since Matt Adams has been out with a foot contusion. Kendrick had also started three of five games there before Adams sustained his injury, so he could continue to have value in deeper formats even when both players are healthy.

We hoped you liked reading NL Lineup Analysis (8/2/19) 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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Jim
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Jim

Hey Al, do you have a wife (or sister or cousin or some relation) who writes for the Wall Street Journal?