A few lineups are sure to get scrambled when rosters expand on Sunday. Before we get inundated with all of the roster additions, here are some recent lineup and batting order changes we’ve seen in the National League.
Based on the four games the Diamondbacks have played since David Peralta (shoulder) went on the IL, it would seem that Ketel Marte and Josh Rojas can count on regular playing time in outfield, with Jarrod Dyson filling in for both occasionally. When Dyson plays center, Marte tends to shift to second base, whereas Rojas could get the occasional day off, like he had on Tuesday against the Giants. Right field has been a mix of Dyson, Adam Jones and Tim Locastro. Across all three outfield positions, Dyson should play fairly steadily against righties, but Jones and Locastro appear destined to remain in reserve roles.
Since Peralta has been out, Christian Walker has taken the cleanup spot in the batting order. With Peralta set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Walker could remain in that prime run-producing spot for the remainder of the season.
The Braves have continued to stick with a platoon of Rafael Ortega and Adam Duvall in left field, while the presence of a DH slot in the recent two-game series in Toronto afforded the opportunity for both Matt Joyce and Billy Hamilton to be in the lineup against right-handed starters. Nick Markakis‘ return is not imminent, and Hamilton is off to a good start since coming over to the Braves, going 4 for 12 with three stolen bases. Then again, Joyce has been hitting well lately, going 15 for 39 (.385) with two home runs since Aug. 13, so it may be difficult for Hamilton to crack the lineup during the nine-game homestand that begins on Friday night.
With Anthony Rizzo missing the last three games (and probably a fourth and a fifth) due to a tight back, Ian Happ filled in at first base, while Addison Russell will make his fourth start in a row at second base on Thursday night against the Mets. Playing time patterns at second base have been hard to predict, and it won’t get any easier once Rizzo returns. At that point, Russell, Happ and Tony Kemp will all be vying for starts there.
Victor Caratini has been getting the bulk of the starts behind the plate, as Jonathan Lucroy has supplanted him in the starting lineup only three times in the last eight games, including for Thursday night’s game. Lucroy is getting the start at catcher, as Caratini will spell Happ at first base. The playing time for both backstops could be reduced shortly, as Willson Contreras (hamstring) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Friday.
Now that Joey Votto has been activated from the IL and José Peraza has been demoted to Triple-A Louisville, a predictable starting lineup has taken shape. Derek Dietrich has returned to a bench role after a brief run at first base, and Josh VanMeter and Phillip Ervin are platooning in left field. VanMeter also gets the meatier half of a leadoff spot platoon with Nick Senzel.
Ian Desmond has started four of five games since Raimel Tapia sustained a left hand contusion that landed him on the IL, and each start has been in left field. Center field has been shared by Yonathan Daza, Garrett Hampson and Sam Hilliard, who have each made two starts, if we include Hilliard’s anticipated start against the Pirates on Thursday night.
The arrival of Gavin Lux, the 10th-ranked prospect on THE BOARD, would seem to be well-timed, since he could fill in for Max Muncy, who has a right wrist contusion. However, Lux may not be joining the Dodgers to play, but rather to serve in a non-playing “apprenticeship” role.
Should Lux get to play, that would clearly be the biggest impact to the Dodgers’ lineup. In lieu of that, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández both starting seven of nine games after returning from the IL would be the most notable developments. It’s helped that, during this span, the Dodgers have faced four left-handed starters. Taylor and Hernández have also helped themselves by going 9 for 29 (.310) and 9 for 25 (.360), respectively.
Austin Dean has become the starting left fielder, with Harold Ramirez shifting to right field to replace Brian Anderson (hand), who is out for the season. Since getting called up on Saturday, Dean has just two singles in 11 plate appearances. With Magneuris Sierra, Rosell Herrera and recently-acquired Jesús Sánchez as candidates to join the team when rosters expand, Dean’s run of regular play may not last long.
The demotion of Ben Gamel may be helping Trent Grisham to find more playing time. Since Gamel was sent to Triple-A San Antonio, Grisham has started three of the four games in which the Brewers faced a right-handed starter. He filled in twice for Ryan Bruan and once for Lorenzo Cain. Cory Spangenberg, who was promoted from San Antonio in a corresponding move, has started each of the four games against righties, though the last two were in place of Mike Moustakas, who has been out with pain in his left palm and wrist. When Moustakas returns, Spangenberg could still split time at shortstop with Orlando Arcia, providing him with some value for deeper leagues.
In last week’s NL Lineup Analysis column, I suggested that Juan Lagares‘ playing time would probably evaporate once Jeff McNeil was activated from the IL. However, after McNeil returned on Saturday, Mickey Callaway said that he would play multiple positions — second base, third base, left field and right field, to be exact. Callaway has stuck to his plan so far, starting McNeil at second base on Sunday, right field on Tuesday and third base on Wednesday. Lagares only sat on Tuesday.
In his first two starts back from his hamstring injury, McNeil batted second, leaving Amed Rosario in the leadoff spot. On Wednesday, McNeil got to reclaim his old spot in the lineup, but for Thursday night’s game against the Cubs, Callaway moved him back down a spot to hit second behind Rosario.
When Bryce Harper was on the paternity list over the weekend, Scott Kingery moved from third base to center field, while Adam Haseley moved from center to right field to fill in for Harper. Then when Harper returned on Monday, Kingery started at second base, rather than returning to third base. He left that game early with abdominal pain, and he did not return until Wednesday. He was back at what had become his customary spot at third base. So even though Brad Miller logged a couple of extra-base hits in Kingery’s absence from the position, there is no reason to think he is going to become a regular presence at third base.
Since returning from a five-game suspension on Aug. 20, José Osuna has started eight of the Pirates’ nine games. Five of those starts have come in right field, and two have come at third base in place of Colin Moran when the team was facing a left-handed starter. The remaining start was at first base. Osuna is just 5 for 29 (.172) since his return, but for the time being, he appears to be a fixture in the Pirates’ lineup. He is slated to start in right field on Thursday night in Colorado.
Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman had been sharing the leadoff spot on a platoon basis, but that arrangement appears to be over. Newman has led off for each of the last six games, including three games against right-handed starters. Frazier has batted either seventh or eighth in each of his starts during this stretch.
Since last week’s column, incredibly, not much has changed in the Padres’ outfield. Manuel Margot has started six straight games, and Hunter Renfroe missed a start in only one of those contests. Josh Naylor and Wil Myers continue to share left field duties, though Francisco Mejía squeezed in a start there last Sunday against the Red Sox. The second base situation is status quo as well, with Greg Garcia and Ty France continuing to platoon there. Garcia is also platooning with Margot in the leadoff spot.
The Giants waived Scooter Gennett and promoted Mauricio Dubon on Tuesday. The team’s plan is for Dubon to play both second base and shortstop. While that means that Donovan Solano will remain in a part-time role, it also portends a reduction in playing time for Brandon Crawford. Given that Dubon will get starts against both righties and lefties, it sounds as if he will get substantial playing time.
Aside from the three starts Kolten Wong missed due to a toe injury, the Cardinals’ lineup has been Stability Central. For nine games in a row, they have had an outfield alignment of Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler. Tommy Edman, who had been a part of the outfield mix, has started eight of the last nine games. He has essentially taken over third base from Matt Carpenter, though when Edman filled in for Wong at second base, Carpenter returned to make three starts at the hot corner. When Wong came back to start on Wednesday against the Brewers, Edman returned to third base.
Asdrúbal Cabrera made his first career start at first base on Sunday, and then he started there again on Tuesday. That has opened up some playing time for Brian Dozer at second base, but it kept Matt Adams and Howie Kendrick out of the starting lineup for those games.
Adam Eaton exited Wednesday night’s game against the Orioles after getting hit in the knee by a pitch. X-rays came back negative, and he is considered day-to-day. He was replaced by Gerardo Parra, and should he need more time off, Parra would figure to fill in for him.
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.