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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL 04/28

National League lineup analysis is back for another week. Lineup analysis will be just National League this week but fear not, American League will return next week. The previous National League lineup analysis can be found on Fantrax at this link here. The five hottest hitters in the National League have been: Travis d’Arnaud, Alec Bohm, Mike Tauchman, Shohei Ohtani, and Will Smith. Keep reading for the latest news and notes from all 15 lineups in the National League.

Please note that this article is finalized during the day on Saturday. I will do my best to update the information as it comes in later that night.

Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL Edition

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

  • No, Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott are not platoon players
    • Yes, both players were on the bench for back-to-back games against a lefty this week, but Rob Thomson made it very clear that this was a possibility before the season
    • Against the toughest lefties, expect both on the bench and that was the case with Andrew Abbott and Nick Lodolo who have extreme splits
    • Marsh has been excellent and Bryson Stott still holds plenty of value. They will remain fixtures in Philadelphia’s lineup
  • Alec Bohm is thriving as the cleanup hitter in Philadelphia’s lineup
    • Bohm has moved up from fifth to fourth recently and is finding plenty of success
    • He is an RBI machine (batting behind Harper and Turner provides plenty of opportunities) and is already up to 22 on the season. He is an easy bet to eclipse 100 this year
    • His contact skills and plate discipline have continued to improve with the only real issue being a lack of game power. His swing is designed more for line drives which likely caps his home run potential at around 20

Miami Marlins

  • Vidal Brujan is getting some time in the Marlins lineup
    • Brujan was a top prospect for a few years with the Rays but never got a chance to overcome some early struggles
    • A versatile defender, Brujan has primarily been playing third base and batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • Brujan has plus speed but has yet to barrel a baseball. He is not somebody worth adding in fantasy
    • Emmanuel Rivera has been seeing his playing time decrease as a result of this shift
  • Christian Bethancourt is back from the IL
    • Bethancourt’s brief stay on the IL came to an end Wednesday and he appears to be taking over as the team’s primary catcher
    • Although he has missed some time, Bethancourt is still somehow hitless on the season and does not hold any fantasy value
    • Nick Fortes is seeing his playing time decline but is likely to work into the lineup close to 50% of the time
  • Josh Bell continues to struggle this season
    • Bell continues to bat in the middle of Miami’s lineup but has yet to get things going at the plate
    • The biggest difference this year has been a sudden drop in barrel rate which is likely leading to many of his struggles
    • He should see his BABIP come back up, but at a deep position like first base Bell is not a must-roster player

Atlanta Braves

  • Ozzie Albies made a speedy recovery
    • Albies was expected to miss an extended period of time, but is already back in Atlanta’s lineup batting second
    • He got off to a fast start to the season and his return is a welcomed site for fantasy managers
    • Luis Guillorme shifts back to the bench and Michael Harris II slides back down in the lineup with Albies returning
  • Travis d’Arnaud has been batting sixth in the lineup
    • d’Arnaud continues to receive the majority of the catcher starts in Atlanta with Sean Murphy still on the IL
    • From April 19-22, d’Arnaud hit five home runs increasing the intrigue surrounding his fantasy value
    • Fantasy managers should proceed with caution as he has not hit any other home runs this season and his playing time is going to decrease once Murphy returns from the IL
  • Ronald Acuna Jr.’s power output continues to disappoint
    • Acuna is up to 11 stolen bases and is still providing fantasy value, but one home run on the season is incredibly disappointing
    • He is still hitting the ball hard (albeit not as hard as last season) but has seen his barrel rate crash down
    • He could possibly still be dealing with a lingering injury but could get hot at any second. I would not be selling low on Acuna in any format

Washington Nationals

  • Lane Thomas suffered a significant knee injury
    • Thomas injured his knee sliding into second base and is expected to miss a significant amount of time
    • If you have IL slots, he should be held as he was off to a strong start, especially in the stolen base department
    • With Thomas out, the Nationals have shifted around their lineup. Ildemaro Vargas or the recently recalled Trey Lipscomb are most likely to see their playing time increase
    • Neither one is worth rostering at this point
  • Keibert Ruiz is back from the IL
    • Ruiz has slotted back into the fifth spot in the lineup since returning and should be a reliable catcher for fantasy managers to lean on in two-catcher leagues
    • Prior to his injury, Ruiz’s numbers were disappointing from a fantasy perspective but he was still making contact at an excellent rate
    • He is unlikely to be a difference-maker but is a solid option that could be on the waiver wire for those who had to drop him
  • Fantasy managers should consider CJ Abrams an elite fantasy asset
    • There was much debate this off-season over Abrams’ value and whether his draft price was too high
    • He has quickly proven that his draft price was actually too low and he is one of the game’s premier shortstops
    • He is hitting for power with a higher barrel rate and launch angle than ever before. He also has elite speed with improving contact skills. He is not a sell-high and should be valued as a top-20 asset

New York Mets

  • JD Martinez has joined the team
    • Martinez has finally made his long-awaited Mets debut and is batting in the middle of the lineup
    • He has hit at least 30 home runs five different times in his career including 33 last season
    • His weakening contact rates and lack of fantasy eligibility are issues, but if you are looking for a source of power, Martinez still appears to have plenty in the tank
    • Tyrone Taylor is most likely to see his playing time decrease with this move
  • Brett Baty is down to eighth in the lineup
    • Baty was batting fifth most nights, but the addition of Martinez has forced him to bat lower
    • He has been struggling at the plate recently but is still posting impressive contact and plate discipline numbers
    • The power Baty showed off in the Minor Leagues has still yet to appear at the Major League level and dynasty managers might need to adjust their expectations for his long-term output. He has still yet to show a consistent ability to get the ball in the air which is the primary issue
  • Harrison Bader has been out of the lineup twice in the past few days
    • Bader still is an elite defender but with Martinez arriving and DJ Stewart needing a place to play in the outfield, he is competing for playing time with Tyrone Taylor
    • Bader has five stolen bases on the year but does not walk much and is well below average offensively
    • Those holding Bader for stolen bases might need to find a replacement if his playing time continues to decrease

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

  • Cody Bellinger is on the IL
    • Bellinger suffered a fractured rib and is expected to miss more than the minimum 10 days
    • With Bellinger out, Pete Crow-Armstrong was recalled from Triple-A
    • PCA is one of the game’s top prospects and is especially adept defensively
    • PCA has been entering the lineup more over Alexander Canario and is batting toward the bottom of the lineup
  • Matt Mervis is also back from Triple-A
    • Mervis struggled in his first taste of Major League action in Triple-A last year but has put up impressive Minor League numbers
    • Mervis is likely to get the majority of playing time against right-handed pitchers batting in the back half of the lineup
    • I have never been a big believer in Mervis in large part due to his high strikeout rate at the Major League level and struggles against lefties. I am not adding him and would rather go after PCA
  • Mike Tauchman is batting second in the lineup
    • Tauchman has slid into an everyday role and his strong offensive performances are keeping him there
    • He has excellent plate discipline and continues to work walks at a high rate. He has sneaky value in OBP leagues where you are searching for a boost in that category
    • The one noticeable difference this season is a higher barrel rate which could lead to an increased home run rate. He is worth a look in deeper leagues where you need an outfield boost

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Jordan Walker was sent to Triple-A
    • Walker was a popular breakout candidate coming into the season and cost a lot of draft capital
    • His season got off to a slow start and the Cardinals decided Triple-A was the best path forward. I am not giving up on him in dynasty making now a good buy low.
    • Michael Siani has been batting at the bottom of the lineup and playing every day in Walker’s place. Siani walks a lot and has plus speed but is not likely to become a consistent fantasy asset
  • Alec Burleson has taken over the DH at-bats
    • The team was working Ivan Herrera into the lineup more frequently for a couple of weeks but his recent struggles have landed him on the bench
    • Burleson is only playing against right-handed pitchers
    • He hits the ball hard but has never produced offensive numbers much above league average. He is not worth rostering at this point
  • Masyn Winn has yet to barrel up a ball
    • Winn is off to a strong start in the average department but is not barreling up the ball enough to hit for any power
    • The launch angle and average exit velocity numbers look solid and I expect Winn to start seeing some better batted-ball luck as the season moves along
    • For now, fantasy managers should expect solid stolen base numbers and a strong batting average

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Joey Ortiz is back in as the regular third baseman
    • Ortiz has been sixth in the lineup against lefties and eighth or ninth against righties
    • He has excellent contact rates and a strong walk rate to at least provide decent OBP value for fantasy managers
    • The Brewers should continue to play him every day
    • Oliver Dunn has moved to the bench
  • Blake Perkins is playing every day and batting in the middle of the lineup
    • With Yelich still on the IL, Perkins is getting an extended period of time to prove himself and is capitalizing on the opportunity
    • He is up to three home runs and two stolen bases while his average sits over .300
    • Nothing in his batted ball data suggests this outburst is sustainable and this is not something fantasy managers should be buying into
  • William Contreras is making a case to be considered the top catcher in fantasy
    • He is up to five home runs on the season making it easy to dream about what his home run outlook could look like if he increased his launch angle
    • Fantasy managers should not expect an average over .300 to be sustainable as his current BABIP sits above .400
    • He is likely to hit around .270 with 20-25 home runs and the stolen bases (2 already) are a bonus

Cincinnati Reds

  • Jake Fraley and Jonathan India have both returned from their illness
    • This illness kept both players out of the lineup for several games leading to additional playing time for Stuart Fairchild and Santiago Espinal
    • India returned to the lineup first and is batting sixth or seventh while Fraley is now back to batting fifth
    • This illness should not impact either moving forward
  • Will Benson is batting leadoff
    • The move to make Benson the leadoff hitter at this time is a bit puzzling as he has struggled offensively for the majority of the past two weeks
    • Benson’s average now sits below .200 and his strikeout rate remains up near 40%
    • He is a candidate to see his playing time start to decrease if he cannot figure out how to keep his strikeout rate in check
  • Elly De La Cruz is up to second in the lineup
    • Elly got off to a slow start but has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball as of late
    • He is now up to an incredible 17 (yes, you read that right) stolen bases putting his 600 plate appearance pace at 97
    • His strikeout rate since April 15 also sits down below 26%. Elly may already be the best player in fantasy

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Joey Bart and Henry Davis are moving into more of a timeshare at catcher
    • Davis entered the season with high expectations but has struggled to get things going at the plate
    • Bart on the other hand has been excellent since being claimed off of waivers from San Francisco
    • Bart is up to three home runs, showing off improved plate discipline, and absolutely crushing the baseball. He could be worth a look in deeper dynasty leagues
  • Andrew McCutchen has moved into the leadoff spot
    • McCutchen has primarily been batting fifth in the lineup this season but is up to the top spot
    • Cutch has solid walk rates although his strikeout rate is higher than it has been at any point in his career
    • He is a fine player to roster in deep OBP leagues but is not relevant outside of that at this point in his career

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Andy Pages is playing every day
    • Pages has been in the lineup on a regular basis since being recalled from Triple-A and is making a case to stay in the lineup even once the Dodgers get healthy
    • The quality of contact from Pages has been excellent so far and he has plus speed which should turn into some stolen bases
    • He is a must-add player anywhere he is still available
  • James Outman now has a wRC+ below 70
    • Outman could be a candidate to lose playing time when everybody is healthy based on his offensive struggles this season
    • He is chasing and whiffing far too often to limit his strikeouts and is not hitting barrels at the same rate he did last year
    • He should still see his BABIP increase, but that is the only silver lining at this point

San Diego Padres

  • Jackson Merrill was battling a hamstring injury
    • Merrill missed two games but returned to the lineup on Saturday
    • If the injury lingers, Jose Azocar would be most likely to see his playing time increase
  • Jurickson Profar has moved up in the lineup
    • Profar is now batting fourth or fifth in most games recently which is surprising for many
    • Most fantasy managers have written Profar off, but the numbers are intriguing. His contact skills remain solid, he is walking at the highest rate of his career, and his average exit velocity is 90 mph
    • Profar is now batting right behind Machado, Tatis Jr, and Cronenworth making him an intriguing fantasy add if you need outfield help
  • Manny Machado played first base for the first time this season on Friday
    • Machado being able to play the field opens up more options for the Padres as they no longer are reliant on Graham Pauley and Tyler Wade to fill in
    • Pauley remains with the team but is unlikely to play consistently unless his offensive numbers improve
    • The team could call up Matthew Batten to get some at-bats at DH if they want to make a switch
    • In terms of third base at-bats while Machado is still the DH, Eguy Rosario appears to have the advantage with the other two options struggling

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Corbin Carroll has slid down in the lineup
    • The disappointing start to the season gets even worse for fantasy managers as the move down in the lineup is likely to lead to less counting stats
    • Carroll’s shoulder injuries continue to be the widely believed cause of his lack of power
    • He should hit for a solid average, provide plenty of walks, and steal bases at a high rate
    • Joc Pederson has moved up in the lineup with Carroll moving down
  • Pavin Smith is getting more playing time against right-handed pitching
    • Smith is batting all over the lineup when playing primarily taking playing time away from Jake McCarthy
    • He has always flashed intriguing power upside but has never turned into a relevant fantasy asset
    • Smith is not worth adding in any league

San Francisco Giants

  • Patrick Bailey is batting sixth in the lineup and playing every day
    • Bailey’s strong defensive skills keep him in the lineup and his offense seems to be developing in the right direction
    • He is up to three home runs already and is posting impressive exit velocities this season
    • Fantasy managers should not expect his average to stay near .300 but playing time is extremely valuable for managers in two-catcher leagues which makes Bailey a strong add
  • The Giants could look to switch up their shortstop
    • Nick Ahmed continues to play every day but is below-average offensively
    • Casey Schmitt is dominating Triple-A with four home runs already although he has primarily been playing third base this season
    • Marco Luciano is another option that the team could call up but he is not showing any improvements to his strikeout rate in Triple-A

Colorado Rockies

  • Brenton Doyle is batting second
    • FINALLY! The Rockies finally moved Doyle up in the lineup after his excellent start
    • Toward the end of draft season, Boyle became one of my favorite sleeper picks, and investing in him is paying off handsomely
    • Doyle is going to see his BABIP come down but the home runs and stolen bases are encouraging for fantasy managers
  • Hunter Goodman is back up from Triple-A
    • Goodman has been playing right field since being recalled and batting eighth in the lineup
    • His power is impressive and should lead to home runs in Coors Field but he has not shown the ability to improve his strikeout rate at all
    • I am not adding him anywhere
    • Sean Bouchard has lost his lineup spot with Goodman back up
  • Nolan Jones is dropping in the lineup
    • Jones continues to struggle to limit the strikeouts despite improvements to both his whiff and chase rate
    • His barrel rate has disappeared as he seems to be pressing offensively at this point
    • I would be intrigued to buy Jones in a dynasty league but he should be put on your bench exclusively until he shows any improvements this season
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