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Combined Lineup Analysis 09/16

The season is winding down and this is where you find out if your team has what it takes to win! This is the point that you have been working hard to get to all season! Just because the season is almost over, does not mean that there are not still opportunities to improve your team. Prospects are being called up left and right and this article dives into the important notes from each lineup around the league! The fiver hottest hitters in baseball over the past week have been Julio Rodriguez, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, Adolis Garcia, and Freddie Freeman. Check out the rest of the article to learn more about the latest lineup trends!

NL East

New York Mets

The Mets have lost all room to spend time messing around. The Braves are hot on their tail for the division lead causing a level of panic in New York. One move they made to try and help their offense was calling up top prospect Mark Vientos. Vientos was dominating AAA batting .280 with 24 home runs. However, Vientos is only worth adding in keeper and dynasty leagues. Vientos has only started two games since being recalled, both against left-handed starters. Vientos will likely remain out of the lineup against righties while Daniel Vogelbach gets the starts.

Luis Guillorme is back from the IL. He appears to be on the strong side of the platoon with Vientos as he is drawing starts against righties. Even though the Mets seem insistent on getting Guillorme into the lineup on a regular basis, he is not worth picking up in fantasy. With Starling Marte out, Mark Canha has moved up to second in the lineup against lefties while Jeff McNeil has moved up against righties. This helps boost each of their fantasy values slightly by allowing them to score more runs.

Philadelphia Phillies

When Bryce Harper originally returned, Rob Thompson decided to leave Alec Bohm in the three spot, while batting Bryce Harper fourth in the lineup. This is no longer the case, as Harper is back to batting third and Bohm is hitting fifth. Bohm’s fantasy value does not change much with this shift. Rhys Hoskins left the game on Wednesday after being hit by a pitch. The X-Rays came back negative, but if Hoskins is forced to miss any time, Bohm could shift back up in the lineup and possibly gain 1B eligibility. Edmundo Sosa is most likely to see his playing time increase in place of Hoskins.

With Nick Castellanos on the IL, I assumed that Matt Vierling would get most of the playing time in RF. This is not the case, as Nick Maton has been the beneficiary of Castellanos being out. He is batting at the bottom of the lineup, but in just 23 games he is hitting .280/.403/.660. This is good enough for a 187 wRC+. So far, Maton is carrying a 31.3 HR/FB%. This is unsustainable, but the underlying metrics are encouraging. He has posted strong exit velocity, barrel, and launch angle numbers while also pulling the ball and posting high walk rates. The red flags are his whiff rate and inability to hit anything except the fastball. Maton will be relegated to bench duties when Castellanos returns but could be an intriguing flyer in deep dynasty leagues.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins are letting the youth play. This week, they promoted prospect Jordan Groshans. Groshans was acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline this year. Currently, Groshans ranks in the back of my Top 115 prospect list. He has elite plate discipline and has shown a solid ability to make consistent contact. The issue is his lack of power. Since making his debut in 2018, Groshans has only hit 17 home runs throughout the minor leagues. In a small minor league sample size since the trade, Groshans saw his ground ball percentage decrease while increasing his pull percentage. He hit two home runs with Miami’s AAA team in 31 games compared to one in 67 with Toronto’s affiliate. There is a possibility the Marlins found a way to unlock some power in his swing. He should be in the Miami lineup every day moving forward and is worth monitoring in fantasy.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have been dealing with some injuries recently. Both middle infielders for Chicago have been banged up. Nick Madrigal is currently on the IL which has opened the door for Zach McKinstry to get consistent playing time. McKinstry has a strikeout rate of 28% on the season, but looking at his plate discipline numbers, this should be much lower. He has a whiff rate under 20% while only chasing 25.4% of the time. McKinstry is a player who has always posted strong walk rates in the minor leagues but has not seen it translate at the big-league level. This should change. Even though he is batting at the top of the Cubs’ lineup, McKinstry is nothing more than a deep league dart throw at this point.

The Cubs’ other middle infielder Nico Hoerner is also dealing with an injury. He has not yet been placed on the IL but has been out of the lineup for the last three games. With the Cubs out of playoff contention, they will likely be careful with their young infielder. There is a chance Hoerner is held out of the lineup as a precaution and if you are relying on him to help your late-season push, you should look at other options.

St. Louis Cardinals

With Dylan Carlson on the IL, the Cardinals have added prospect Alec Burleson to the outfield mix. Burleson is still the fourth outfielder currently behind O’Neil, Nootbaar, and Dickerson. Burleson was dominating AAA this year and is somebody that could see more playing time down the stretch. Although he has just two hits in 13 plate appearances, he has yet to strike out. Meanwhile, after his hot stretch, Nootbaar is batting just .120 over his last 60 plate appearances. He could find himself on the bench more often for either Burleson or Carlson when he returns from the IL. Carlson should be back with the Cardinals at some point next week. Dickerson has been batting toward the top of the lineup lately and could be worth adding if you need outfield help. He has a hit in ten of his last eleven games, batting .398 since August 17th.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Corbin Carroll has been living up to the hype since joining the big-league team. He has three home runs and is batting .279 in 48 plate appearances. Despite his success, he is still not in the lineup every day. This is likely Arizona manipulating his service time and is not something to read into beyond 2022. Carroll will be a part of the lineup every day in 2023 and has all the looks of a future star. The one disappointment so far in 2022 is that he is yet to steal a base. Carroll’s dynasty value remains very high, but his impact in 2022 will continue to be limited by his playing time.

Josh Rojas was on the bench both games against lefties this past week and is not somebody worth rostering right now. His playing time has grown inconsistent, and he is batting just .192 since August 21st. As Arizona’s team gets better, Rojas projects more as a utility player than an everyday lineup member. I would be selling Rojas in any dynasty league and moving on from him in redraft leagues.

Colorado Rockies

There have not been too many notable changes to the Rockies lineup, but I did want to point out a couple of quick facts. First, since August 25 Ryan McMahon has posted an average exit velocity of 95.3mph. Over that same time frame, he has a barrel rate of just under 20%. If you have been following my articles since the off-season, McMahon was one of my main targets this season. He has been a disappointment, but hopefully, this late stretch is a sign of things to come in 2023. The Rockies have even been batting him at the top of the lineup against righties which could boost his fantasy value in 2023 if this continues.

From July 14th to August 10th, Brendan Rodgers hit .398 while posting a BABIP of .446. Since then, Rodgers has hit .167/.254/.265. The true talent level for Rodgers is likely somewhere in the middle, but with a suboptimal launch angle, I am skeptical he will ever hit for real power. Rodgers is not somebody I am targeting in dynasty leagues.

AL East

New York Yankees

There is plenty to dive into with the Yankees. Starting with the injuries, the Yankees expect Anthony Rizzo to rejoin the club either this weekend or early next week. Rizzo has been dealing with headaches, but he seems to be getting healthy again. Rizzo figures to slot back into the middle of the lineup. The timeline for D.J. LeMahieu is a little bit less clear. He is not expected to remain out of the lineup for too much longer though. He will likely return at some point next week.

In terms of their lineup over the past week, Miguel Andujar is back and playing every day. The Yankees seem to be prioritizing his bat over Oswald Peraza currently. Peraza has been on the bench every day this week. The team seems to be prioritizing defense as Oswaldo Cabrera continues to draw every day starts. Cabrera is even batting in the middle of the lineup despite batting just .198 with one home run on the season. He has been mostly playing the outfield over Aaron Hicks with Andrew Benintendi on the IL. Cabrera still is not worth picking up and I do not like his dynasty outlook.

Tampa Bay Rays

As quickly as Brandon Lowe returned, he was gone again. As somebody who has owned Brandon Lowe this season, it has been a nightmare. He has been unable to stay healthy while struggling early and losing playing time against lefties to Yu Chang and Taylor Walls. Lowe is an obvious drop at this point in redraft leagues and has plummeted down second-base rankings for 2023 and beyond. Part of me is willing to chalk this season up to injuries and be willing to buy back in for 2023, but I am unsure that the Rays will let him play every day moving forward. With Lowe out, Jonathan Aranda has been seeing more playing time and playing well. He is worth a look if you need infield help. Through 38 plate appearances, Aranda is slashing .343/.395/.514.

Positive news on the injury front is that Wander Franco is back and playing well. He has been batting second in the Rays lineup and should have plenty of run-scoring chances hitting ahead of Randy Arozarena. Arozarena has been excellent for Tampa this season, especially since the start of July. His 153 wRC+ since the start of July ranks sixth amongst qualified outfielders.

AL West

Houston Astros

Aledmys Diaz is back with the team after spending time on the IL. Diaz was getting everyday lineup time before his injury, but I am not sure if this will continue now. Trey Mancini has taken over the everyday spot but is batting just .182/.308/.364 since August 20th. This battle is worth watching closely to see if either player is worth rostering. Over the past couple weeks, Jeremy Pena and Yuli Gurriel have flip-flopped in the lineup again. This has been a recurring theme throughout the season as the Astros have prioritized getting at bats for whichever player is swinging it better.

Seattle Mariners

The only thing to note with the Mariners is Mitch Haniger’s healthy. Haniger is battling a back injury that has kept him out of the lineup for multiple games this week. He is expected to return this weekend and the injury is not thought to be significant. With Haniger out of the lineup, Sam Haggerty has been seeing more consistent playing time. Haggerty quietly has twelve stolen bases in just 157 plate appearances. If Haggerty were to ever get 500 plate appearances, that is a 36-steal pace. This is just something to keep an eye on in the event Haggerty is projected to be a long-term starter. Also, after I talked down on Carlos Santana last week, he has hit three home runs. Santana has six hits since August 27th and four of them have been home runs.

Los Angeles Angels

The mad mouse is back! Sorry for that, as a Phillies fan my friends and I tried to brainstorm good nicknames for Mickey Moniak before the season and the best we were able to come up with was the mad mouse. Anyway, Moniak is back for the Angels. He is getting a chance to bat leadoff in their lineup ahead of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. In just eleven games in an Angels’ uniform, Moniak has three home runs. He flashed this power in Spring Training and is an excellent deep league dart throw. The former number one overall pick is worth taking a shot on, especially if he continues batting ahead of two of the best hitters on the planet.

Moniak’s return officially removes all hope Jo Adell truthers have left. Adell was struggling to see everyday lineup time even with Moniak out and has received just two starts since Moniak has returned. In addition, Andrew Velazquez is now on the IL. David Fletcher should get most of the starts at SS with Velazquez out but is not worth rostering in fantasy.

Texas Rangers

I mentioned in last week’s article that the Rangers were promoting Josh Jung. Since being promoted Jung has been in the lineup every day. The sample size is small, but so far Jung has struck out in 13 of his first 28 plate appearances. I did not anticipate Jung striking out this often. His whiff and chase rates are extremely high. So far, he is whiffing on over 60% of breaking balls and 40% of off-speed pitches. I still believe in Jung’s talent, but this shows there might be an adjustment period for Jung before he figures things out. The encouraging part is the three barrels in just 15 batted balls. Jung is going to hit; he just must limit the strikeouts. Being promoted with Jung was Josh Smith. Smith has already been up this year and I do not think he is worth adding at this point.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Luis Robert has returned to Chicago’s lineup this week. He has continued to bat toward the bottom of the lineup. Yoan Moncada appears to be the preferred option to bat second with Andrew Vaughn and A.J. Pollock typically batting fifth and sixth. With Robert healthy, Gavin Sheets is the most likely candidate to lose playing time. Moncada has hit three home runs since returning from the IL on September 6th. This could be something to keep in mind when considering his value for 2023 and beyond. There is a chance Moncada is finally healthy and finding his swing again after a terrible start to the season.

Minnesota Twins

Although there have not been any changes to the Twins’ lineup over the past week, I felt like it was important to get a couple of injury updates out there. Starting with Byron Buxton, he remains without a firm timetable for a return. The Twins have come out and said that they expect him to return before the end of the regular season but have not been specific. You have to wonder if their positioning in the standings could change that. They currently sit five games behind the Guardians for the AL Central lead. Reports indicate that Jorge Polanco could return to the Twins at some point this weekend. Polanco has been battling a knee injury and is not going to need a rehab stint.

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