For the final time this season, let’s see who’s movin’ and shakin’ in National League lineups.
Wilmer Flores continues to hit and keep his bat in the lineup, starting four of the last six games. Conversely, Jarrod Dyson’s epic slump (3 for 41 prior to Wednesday’s game against the Marlins), has meant a reduction in playing time, as he has started two of the last five games against righties. The most recent of those starts was on Wednesday, when Ketel Marte was out of the lineup. With Marte’s back issues possibly keeping him out for the rest of the season, Dyson could get an opportunity to work his way out of his slump. He did go 2 for 4 on Wednesday, though he was dropped to the eighth spot in the batting order.
Regardless of whether Dyson gets regular starts against righties in center field, Adam Jones figures to get the bulk of the remaining playing time in right field.
Nick Ahmed is day to day with a finger injury, and on Wednesday, Domingo Leyba got the start at shortstop. He could see more time there against right-handed starters if Ahmed misses an extended period of time.
Even though the Braves clinched a postseason berth on Saturday, their lineup has been largely steady. They finally rested some regulars for Thursday’s day game against the Phillies, but with three games against the Giants with right-handed starters coming up this weekend, we should see most, if not all, of their regulars back in the lineup. Next week’s schedule is projected to begin against Royals lefties Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery, so Austin Riley and Adam Duvall should see some playing time.
With Anthony Rizzo out for at least several days with a right ankle sprain, Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini have been swapping off catcher and first base duties. With Ben Zobrist settling in as the larger part of a second base platoon, the Cubs’ lineup has become stable. Zobrist has also been leading off frequently, aside from a four-game run where Rizzo filled that spot.
Update: The Cubs issued a new lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals, and Rizzo was listed as the first baseman and leadoff hitter. Caratini was removed from the lineup.
Injuries to Freddy Galvis (knee) and José Iglesias (back) have created more playing time for Phillip Ervin (with Josh VanMeter shifting to second base) and José Peraza, though with Iglesias’ return on Wednesday night, Peraza was out of the lineup. Brian O’Grady had been filling in for Nick Senzel (shoulder, out for the season) against righties, but Michael Lorenzen has started four of the last five games in center field, including two games that featured opposing right-handed starters. The two-way player has gone 1 for 15 during this stretch, so it’s not clear how long this experiment might last.
Raimel Tapia’s playing time has dwindled considerably, as he has started only twice over the last seven games, both times in left field. Some of that pattern is due to the Rockies having faced three left-handed starters over that stretch, but Ian Desmond and Yonathan Daza supplanted him in two of the games with righty starters. Meanwhile, Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson appear to be platooning, mostly in center field.
Ryan McMahon and Pat Valaika may be platooning as well, McMahon has been out of the starting lineup for three of the last four games against left-handed starters. The infielder known to some as Patty Barrels is 7 for 20 (.350) with four doubles and a triple since rejoining the Rockies as a September callup. However, after next Tuesday night’s game against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants, the Rockies are not projected to face another left-handed starter again this season. Owners can’t count on Hampson or Valaika to play much beyond this weekend’s series with the Dodgers.
Max Muncy was activated from the IL last Friday, and on Tuesday, we saw the first negative impact of his return on the playing time of Gavin Lux. The rookie made way for Muncy as the Dodgers’ second baseman on Tuesday and Wednesday when the team faced a pair of left-handed Rays, Blake Snell and Brendan McKay. As of this writing, the Dodgers are projected to face three more left-handed starters over the remainder of the season.
With Garrett Cooper out with a bruised left knee, first base has been handled strictly by a platoon of Neil Walker and Martín Prado. The outfield has been a jumble over the past week, with Austin Dean and Lewis Brinson being the only players to get more than three starts there. They have received four starts apiece.
With Keston Hiura returning to the starting lineup on Tuesday night, Cory Spangenberg was pushed off second base, where he had started 14 of the preceding 15 games. However, Spangenberg remained in the lineup on Tuesday night versus the Padres, starting at shortstop, and also on Wednesday night, starting in left field. He did not start in Thursday’s series finale, as lefty Joey Lucchesi took the mound.
Trent Grisham was also out of the lineup against Lucchesi, but he had started each of the previous six games, all against right-handed starters. He led off for each of those six games, but Grisham has not registered a hit in his last 16 at-bats.
Of late, Todd Frazier has been losing the most playing time to accommodate the Jeff McNeil super-utility experiment. Beginning on Friday against the Dodgers, Frazier was out of the starting lineup for three out of four games. Then McNeil started in left field on Tuesday and Wednesday in Colorado, as J.D. Davis was sore after crashing into the outfield wall on Monday. One player who has not budged recently to make room for McNeil is Robinson Canó, who has started seven games in row. Canó has at least one hit in 11 of his 12 starts made since returning from the IL, and he is batting .333 with three home runs over that stretch.
After six consecutive starts slotted in the seventh spot in the batting order, Brandon Nimmo has led off for the Mets in three straight games. In the last two of those games, McNeil and Pete Alonso got bumped down a spot from their typical positions in the order to hit second and third, respectively. Michael Conforto, who has frequently batted third or fourth, moved down to the sixth spot for both of those games. He is in the midst of an 0 for 19 slump.
Corey Dickerson’s season-ending foot fracture has opened up playing time for Adam Haseley, who has started four of the Phillies’ last six games. Not long ago, Haseley was getting steady play in center field, but he was bumped by Scott Kingery. That has left third base open for Maikel Franco and Sean Rodríguez, who have been playing in a loose platoon there.
Jean Segura left Thursday’s game against the Braves with a left hamstring cramp. It is not yet known how much time Segura might miss, but in the short term, it could mean more playing time for Rodríguez or Brad Miller.
Starling Marte (wrist) has missed 10 straight starts and Josh Bell has now been out for five games. Bryan Reynolds has shifted to center field to fill in for Marte, while José Osuna has moved to first base to cover for Bell, leaving the outfield corners in an uncertain state. Kevin Kramer (six starts in the last nine games) and Pablo Reyes (three starts in the last six games) have been the biggest playing time beneficiaries. They could continue to get playing time for the next few games at least, as neither Marte nor Bell will return until sometime during next week’s homestand, if they return at all this season.
Hunter Renfroe appears to be getting back into the outfield mix after having missed 12 consecutive starts, at least some of which were due to a sprained ankle. He has now started two of the last three games in right field in place of Josh Naylor. Also, Seth Mejias-Brean has started two games in a row — one at shortstop and one at third base. His only other start came on Sept. 11 against the Cubs, and on Wednesday night, he clubbed his first career homer off the Brewers’ Adrian Houser.
Stephen Vogt has increased his playing time lately, starting seven of the last nine games, though only four of those starts were at catcher. Two of the remaining starts were in left field, and the third was as the designated hitter in Wednesday night’s game in Boston. Mike Yastrzemski and Kevin Pillar continue to get regular starts in the outfield, but in addition to Vogt, Joey Rickard, Alex Dickerson, Mike Gerber and Austin Slater have all made a start in the outfield in the past week. Absent from that list is Jaylin Davis, who had recently made five consecutive starts in right field. He did start as the DH in Thursday’s loss to the Red Sox.
With Matt Adams out with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, Howie Kendrick has been getting more starts at first base, splitting time there with Ryan Zimmerman. Brian Dozier is now on the thinner side of a second base platoon with Asdrúbal Cabrera, resulting in him starting only two of the last 11 games.
Kurt Suzuki is still out with elbow inflammation, and Yan Gomes has started all but one of the Nationals’ last 12 games. He does not seem to be wearing down, though, as he is 7 for 14 with two doubles in his last four games.
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.