Already, the excitement over the recent callups of Trent Grisham, Josh Rojas and Ty France has started to fade. These are just some of the fantasy implications resulting from changes in National League lineups and batting orders this week.
The Diamondbacks continue to employ a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones, but with the demotion of Tim Locastro to Triple-A Reno on Aug. 15, David Peralta is back to playing everyday in left field. He has made seven straight starts and is in the lineup once again for Friday night’s game in Milwaukee.
After beginning his major league career with a string of four starts over a five-game period, playing time has dried up for Rojas. He has started only two of the last five games, and in one of those, he filled an outfield vacancy left by an injured Ketel Marte.
After a season of largely steady lineups, the Braves’ offense has taken on a different look in the past week. Brian McCann was placed on the IL on Wednesday with a sprained left knee, and now Alex Jackson will split the catching duties with Tyler Flowers. With the Braves’ anticipated signing of Francisco Cervelli, who was released by the Pirates, it’s possible that Jackson’s time with the big-league club could be short-lived. Adeiny Hechavarría has settled in as the replacement for the demoted Johan Camargo at shortstop. Dansby Swanson (foot) started a rehab assignment with Class A Rome on Thursday, and he could return to reclaim the shortstop job in a matter of days.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is the only outfielder left who isn’t filling in for someone else. Brian Snitker has been going with a platoon of Rafael Ortega and Adam Duvall in left field since Ender Inciarte (hamstring) went on the IL on Saturday. Matt Joyce and Charlie Culberson have been platooning in right field. Both Inciarte and Nick Markakis (wrist) are weeks away from returning, but Austin Riley will start a rehab assignment at Rome on Friday and could soon enter the outfield mix.
With Albert Almora Jr. getting optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 16, Ian Happ has apparently taken over as Kyle Schwarber’s platoon partner. The Cubs have faced only one left-handed starter since Almora was sent down, but Happ started in left field in place of Schwarber for that game. Meanwhile, Happ’s playing time at second base has dwindled, as he has started two of the last seven games there. Addison Russell got the lone start there against a lefty, and Tony Kemp has taken the remainder of the starts. Happ is likely sitting due to a 5 for 30 (.167) slump, but Kemp had been batting only .194 as a Cub prior to Friday’s game against the Nationals.
Joey Votto’s stay on the IL for a lower back strain has given Josh Van Meter a place to play regularly, but that situation could end soon. Votto could return when eligible on Sunday, and with Freddy Galvis playing regularly at second base, VanMeter’s best option for playing time could be in left field. Even with Jesse Winker out with a cervical strain, it’s a crowded situation, with Phillip Ervin, Brian O’Grady and José Peraza each getting a start over the last three games. On Friday night against the Pirates, VanMeter will make it four left fielders in four games, as Derek Dietrich gets a start at first base.
The biggest development in the Rockies’ lineup is the re-emergence of Raimel Tapia as an everyday outfielder, as Friday night’s game against the Cardinals will be his 14th straight one in the starting lineup. That’s two games shy of his longest streak of the season, which was back in late May and early June. He is also getting a chance to lead off, as he will top the batting order for the third time in four games on Friday night. Charlie Blackmon was out of the lineup for the first of those games, and then batted third on Wednesday and second on Friday.
Tapia has been hitting more grounders in the second half, resulting in little power (.092), but he has struck out at a 13.5 percent rate, nearly halving his 25.1 percent rate from the first half. Since the break, he has been batting .345 with a .381 OBP. With Tapia playing every day, Ian Desmond and Yonathan Daza have been getting most of the playing time in the third outfield spot, with the former playing left field and the latter playing center field.
Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández were activated from the IL on Tuesday, and both figure to get semi-regular playing time in super-utility roles. Overall, it may hard to predict when they will play, but Taylor should slot in against lefties as the starting left fielder, platooning with Matt Beaty. It’s not a given that Beaty will always be in the lineup against right-handed starters, and in fact, he was on the bench on Thursday night against Jacob Waguespack and the Blue Jays, making room in the lineup for Hernández.
When opposing hitters reach first base against the Marlins, they may not be hangin’ with Garrett Cooper when they get there. Cooper was out of the lineup for the last two games, giving way to Neil Walker, though he will be back at first base on Friday night against the Phillies. Since coming off the IL on Aug. 16, Walker has started four of the five games against right-handed starters, with three starts at first base and one at third base, and he will be at third base again on Friday night.
Grisham did not start either of the Brewers’ games since Lorenzo Cain came back from an oblique injury on Tuesday, and he will also be out of the lineup on Friday night against the Diamondbacks. It seems that the only way Grisham is going to play is if there is an injury or if Craig Counsell employs an outfield rotation. If such a rotation is in place, it is moving awfully slowly. Of course, it is going to be unlikely to see Christian Yelich out of the lineup when he is healthy, and Ben Gamel is already getting occasional starts in left and center field.
The Mets’ lineup has been steady, with Juan Lagares getting regular play in center field and Michael Conforto shifting over the right field in Jeff McNeil’s (hamstring) absence. That arrangement could end soon, as McNeil moved his rehab assignment to Class A Brooklyn on Friday. He is eligible to be activated on Saturday, though the Mets want to ensure he is sufficiently mobile in the outfield before returning.
Amed Rosario and Joe Panik have settled in as the 1-2 hitters in the batting order, and as a Met, Panik is batting .342 with 10 runs scored in 12 games. It remains to be seen where both hitters will bat when McNeil returns.
Friday night’s series opener in Miami will be Corey Dickerson’s seventh straight start in left field, and two of the games in this stretch have featured left-handed starters. Since Roman Quinn (groin) went on the IL on Saturday, Adam Haseley has started four games out of five. That includes Friday night’s contest, for which he will start in right field in place of Bryce Harper, who was placed on paternity leave on Friday.
Gabe Kapler continues to tinker with the batting order. Rhys Hoskins had started six of the last seven games as the leadoff hitter, though he moved down to the second spot for Friday night’s game with César Hernández leading off. Friday also marks the fifth straight game with a right-handed starter where Dickerson will bat cleanup.
Prior to his recent eight-game suspension, José Osuna had been playing regularly, splitting his time around the infield and outfield corners. Upon returning on Tuesday, Osuna has fallen back into his prior role. Including Friday night’s game against the Reds, he has three starts in four games, including two in right field and one at third base.
Friday night’s game against the Red Sox will end of a string of six consecutive starts for Josh Naylor. While Manuel Margot had sat two of the last three games, Wil Myers has lost a bigger chunk of playing time lately, starting only two of the last five games.
The rest-of-season loss of Fernando Tatis Jr. to a stress reaction in his lower back has not opened up everyday playing time for France, at least not yet. He started only one of the three games the Padres played against the Reds earlier this week, and that was on Wednesday, when he gave Manny Machado a day off at third base. On Friday night, France will make his first start at second base since Sunday, supplanting Greg Garcia, who had made the last three starts.
With Joey Rickard’s demotion to Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, Mike Yastrzemski is back to being an everyday outfielder. Kevin Pillar continues to get regular starts in center field, and Alex Dickerson and Austin Slater are splitting the final outfield spot.
Yastrzemski has also knocked Brandon Belt out of the leadoff spot against righties, filling that place in the batting order for each of the last five games with an opposing righty. Belt has batted fourth, fifth and seventh since being displaced.
Harrison Bader has started each of the three games the Cardinals have played since he was recalled on Tuesday, and on Friday night against Colorado, he will make it four straight starts. So far, that has had a greater impact on Matt Carpenter‘s playing time than on Tommy Edman’s, as Edman will make his third start in four games at third base on Friday night.
That game will also give Kolten Wong his third straight appearance in the second spot in the batting order. Heading into Friday’s game, Wong has compiled a .364/.445/.475 slash line over his last 40 games.
Matt Adams and Asdrúbal Cabrera have been solidifying their holds on playing time at first base and second base, respectively. Prior to Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates, Adams had started seven straight games, and Cabrera had started five of those seven contests. However, Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier started in their places both on Thursday and in Friday’s series opener against the Cubs.
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.