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National League Lineup Analysis 04/07

National League lineup analysis rolls on for week two. This article series breaks down the most notable news and information from lineup construction around the league. The top five hitters in the National League since the last article have been: Mookie Betts, Michael Conforto, Spencer Steer, Orlando Arcia, and Freddie Freeman. Be sure to head over to Fantrax HQ to check out lineup analysis for the American League this week as well.

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.

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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Takeaways: NL Edition

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Johan Rojas is really struggling
    • Rojas continues to play regularly thanks to his excellent glove, but the team will only be so patient with him
    • If Rojas does not start hitting, a demotion to Triple-A is likely
    • In the event that happens, Brandon Marsh would likely see a bit more playing time with Christian Pache getting a chance to prove if there is anything in his bat
  • Whit Merrifield is being utilized in a super-utility role
    • Although he is not a member of the starting nine, Merrifield is getting plenty of playing time filling in for various members on their off days
    • Like many of the Phillies’ bats, Merrifield has failed to get going early on
    • He is not worth picking up in fantasy leagues

Miami Marlins

  • Jake Burger is red-hot to start the season
    • Burger is batting third in Miami’s lineup and is looking like a potential breakout player
    • While we have always known about Burger’s power, his contact skills have been much improved through the first week and a half of the season
  • The team picked up Emmanuel Rivera off of waivers from Arizona
    • Rivera was a capable option off the bench last year for Arizona and figures to factor into the playing time decisions in Miami
    • He drew his first start in Miami on Saturday hitting eighth against a lefty and playing third base
    • Jesus Sanchez and Nick Gordon both are moving to the bench against lefties

Atlanta Braves

  • Those hoping for an easy Sean Murphy replacement will have to keep searching
    • Last year, if Murphy got hurt, it was the Travis d’Arnaud show but that is not the case anymore
    • d’Arnaud has a slight edge in playing time but is splitting time pretty evenly with Chadwick Tromp
    • Neither player is worth adding in fantasy formats
  • Jarred Kelenic is only playing against righties but looks really good
    • Kelenic is off to a fast start and now might be your last chance to get in at any sort of discount
    • He is making way more contact, showing off more plate discipline, and continuing to barrel up the baseball
    • The home runs should start coming and he could even earn some playing time against lefties if his strong start continues
  • Orlando Arcia is hitting well to start the season
    • Looking under the hood, Arcia’s hot start is primarily a result of an incredibly high BABIP
    • Fantasy managers should not expect his hot start to continue although he will continue to be a member in one of the best lineups in baseball

Washington Nationals

  • Victor Robles landed on the IL
    • Robles was not in a starting spot early on but was getting consistent playing time against left-handed pitchers over Eddie Rosario
    • Rosario still figures to move to the bench against lefties, but now Jacob Young is the most likely player to enter in his place
    • Rosario is off to a slow start to this season and is not worth rostering in fantasy
  • Luis Garcia is hitting more barrels but nothing has really changed
    • Garcia continues to pound the ball into the ground too frequently to ever his for much game power
    • He is also far too aggressive which Major League pitchers can easily exploit
    • I am not buying his fast start
  • CJ Abrams was scratched from the lineup on Saturday
    • Abrams was off to a strong start this season and this is not viewed to be a major injury
    • If Abrams is forced to miss any time, Ildemaro Vargas or Nasim Nunez are candidates to see additional playing time
    • Neither play is worth adding in fantasy formats

New York Mets

  • Brett Baty is moving up in the lineup
    • Baty had a ton of prospect hype this time last season and is starting to get more attention in his second year
    • The most notable improvement from last year is Baty’s ability to get the ball in the air. This should help translate to more game power and improve his fantasy value
    • I am buying into Baty’s breakout potential
  • Brandon Nimmo and Fransico Lindor are ice-cold
    • Both players continue to bat at the top of the lineup but are struggling to start the year
    • Looking under the hood, there is not a real reason to be concerned about either player
    • Both figure to be fine moving forward and the slow start could provide a nice buy-low opportunity
    • Nimmo is battling a bit of a hamstring injury but was the team’s DH on Saturday
  • Tyrone Taylor is getting more playing time
    • In last week’s article, I expressed my displeasure with the team deciding to play DJ Stewart over Taylor, but that has changed
    • Taylor’s playing time is nice to see but the results have been subpar as like many Mets, he has struggled out of the gate
    • With JD Martinez’s arrival looming, Taylor is not worth picking up in fantasy leagues

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

  • Ian Happ is the Cubs’ leadoff hitter
    • Happ batting leadoff could be a nice boost to his counting stats as he has an opportunity to score more runs
    • He is showing off improved plate discipline early on this season although he is yet to hit a home run or steal a base
    • Happ moves down in the lineup to sixth against lefties
  • Christopher Morel looks like a different hitter
    • Morel is batting cleanup for the Cubs and is posting better contact numbers than he has at any point in his professional career
    • The hit tool has been the only thing preventing Morel from entering fantasy stardom and he appears well on his way
    • The season is still young, but it appears those who bought in on Morel this off-season are going to be thrilled with the return

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Brendan Donovan was out of the lineup on Thursday after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday
    • Donovan has been the primary leadoff hitter for St. Louis this season and is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday
    • Notably, early on this season, Donovan has been elevating the ball more than he has in the past which could lead to more game-power production from him
    • He is an intriguing fantasy asset with multi-positional eligibility
  • Victor Scott moved up to bat leadoff against a lefty when Donovan missed the game on Thursday
    • Scott’s early production has been a bit disappointing since being recalled but he is posting high exit velocities which some worried about
    • He only has one stolen base but that has been more a product of his inability to get on base rather than his lack of speed.
    • Scott’s strong defense should keep him in the lineup even if his bat struggles early on. He is not a cornerstone fantasy piece but should provide solid stolen base totals
  • Willson Contreras is battling a hand injury
    • X-rays came back negative so Contreras should return to the lineup on Sunday or Monday
    • Ivan Herrera has stepped into the lineup in Contreras’ place and is batting in the middle of the lineup
    • Herrera put together a strong Spring Training and is off to a fast start now. The team could potentially look to play Contreras at DH more to get Herrera consistent at-bats
    • He is a prime player to target in fantasy leagues where you need help at catcher

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Oliver Dunn is on the strong side of a platoon
    • Dunn was acquired from the Phillies this past off-season and did not generate much attention from the fantasy community
    • He hit 21 home runs and stole 16 bases last season at Double-A and is batting fifth in the lineup against right-handed pitchers
    • There are some hit tool concerns that could cause issues as the sample size gets larger. I do not expect him to become a significant fantasy asset this season
  • Jackson Chourio is rotating between the top and bottom of the lineup
    • Chourio’s stat line looks strong early on this season but there are some red flags
    • So far, he has been extremely aggressive at the plate and is running a high strikeout rate. Chourio is also hitting a ton of ground balls which will prevent him from routinely tapping into his game power
    • Chourio is going to be a star, but fantasy managers should temper expectations
  • Brice Turang is up to six stolen bases on the season
    • Turang is getting consistent playing time against right-handed pitchers batting toward the bottom of Milwaukee’s lineup
    • Turang’s speed has been known, but the question is how much he will continue to hit as the season progresses
    • The biggest issue is Turang’s inability to consistently impact the baseball leading to a lack of power. If you need speed, Turang is a solid option, but do not expect much more than that

Cincinnati Reds

  • Elly De La Cruz is still striking out way too much
    • Elly oozes talent but is far from a finished product and could continue to struggle to produce in real-life
    • His launch angle has prevented him from hitting a home run yet this season and his contact skills seem to be even worse than they were last season
    • If he continues to struggle, the Reds could have no choice but to send him back to Triple-A regardless of his offensive potential and star power
  • Will Benson is staying in the lineup against left-handed pitchers
    • He moves down in the lineup from second to eighth but it is refreshing to see the team give him a chance against lefties
    • While the playing time and quality of contact numbers are great, Benson’s strikeout rate is extremely high so far
    • Benson has plenty of upside but he is likely to always struggle hitting for much average with his contact issues

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Michael A. Taylor is playing well and playing every day
    • Taylor is batting at the bottom of the lineup
    • His glove could keep him in the lineup, but fantasy managers should not expect him to continue performing as well as he has. The strikeout rate is going to spike and his BABIP is bound to come down
    • I am not picking him up anywhere
  • Oneil Cruz is batting leadoff against right-handed pitching
    • Cruz was batting in the bottom third of the lineup against lefties to start the season but fantasy managers have been happy to see him moving up now
    • He is hitting the ball hard, but there are some concerns. For one, he is hitting the ball on the ground a lot. For two, he is striking out a ton which has been a kryptonite for him early in his professional career
    • Cruz could struggle to hit for much batting average this season
  • Jared Triolo is a decent deep-league option
    • Triolo is the team’s primary option at second base batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • Triolo’s value is highest in OBP leagues where he walks plenty and should post decent numbers in that category
    • He has plus speed and profiles around league average in other categories

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Jason Heyward is on the IL with a back injury
    • With Heyward out, Chris Taylor has stepped into a regular role, playing left field against both lefties and righties
    • Taylor has not been fantasy-relevant since 2021 and that does not profile to change now. He is not worth picking up
    • If Heyward’s injury lingers the Dodgers could call upon former top prospect Miguel Vargas who is off to a hot start playing left field in Triple-A
  • Teoscar Hernandez is off to a fast start with his new team
    • Hernandez is just a couple of seasons removed from hitting .296 with 32 home runs and is crushing baseballs early on
    • Joining the Dodgers’ lineup provides excellent counting stats but the strikeout rate early on provides some reason for concern
    • The power and RBIs will be there but I would still be open to seeing if any other fantasy managers are willing to buy high on Hernandez’s fast start

San Diego Padres

  • Graham Pauley has jumped into the strong side of a platoon at third base
    • After sitting the first several games behind Tyler Wade, the Padres are finally giving Pauley significant playing time
    • Pauley is batting toward the bottom of the lineup and some holes in his swing could result in an adjustment period at the Major League level
    • I am not rushing to pick Pauley up even in keeper leagues
  • Jake Cronenworth is interesting from a fantasy perspective
    • Cronenworth is batting third in the Padres’ lineup and is playing well early on
    • Despite not having any home runs yet, Cronenworth is barreling up the ball more than he ever has
    • His contact skills remain excellent and he could be an interesting buy, especially in points formats

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Alek Thomas is on the IL with a hamstring injury
    • The improvements that Thomas had made to unlock more game power were encouraging to see and he could be worth picking up if a team cannot afford to hold him through his IL stint
    • Jake McCarthy is getting Thomas’ playing time against righties batting eighth or ninth in the lineup
    • McCarthy has plenty of speed but lacks any real power to be a fantasy asset. I am not adding him
  • Gabriel Moreno is sliding down in the lineup
    • Moreno has been batting seventh or eighth recently and is off to a slow start to this season
    • He is still showing off excellent contact skills and is hitting more fly balls than he did last season
    • The exit velocities leave something to be desired, but there is actually more that I am encouraged about than discouraged about in Moreno’s stats so far this season
  • Geraldo Perdomo is battling a knee injury
    • Perdomo was playing shortstop every day for Arizona and batting toward the bottom of the lineup
    • While he has not been placed on the IL yet, this sounds like an injury that could result in a trip there
    • With Jordan Lawlar also injured, Blaze Alexander seems most likely to see his playing time increase
    • Alexander is worth picking up if he gets everyday playing time despite his hit tool concerns

San Francisco Giants

  • Michael Conforto finally looks healthy
    • He is already up to three home runs this year and is crushing the baseball
    • Conforto was an attractive fantasy asset for years early on in his career before his shoulder injuries
    • If Conforto is healthy now, he could be in for a massive season. I am buying him everywhere I can
  • Patrick Bailey continues to play well as the primary catcher in San Francisco
    • Bailey is batting toward the bottom of the lineup but is a perfect target for fantasy managers in two-catcher leagues
    • A lot of line drives should lead to relatively high BABIPs and his spot in the lineup looks relatively safe with little competition behind him

Colorado Rockies

  • Nolan Jones is striking out a lot again
    • Strikeouts plagued Jones’ early career and he had seemed to solve the issue last year, but maybe not so fast
    • Jones’ swinging strike rate is actually at a respectable level and he still is not chasing. The issue has been not swinging at strikes which is a better issue to have
    • Now could be a nice buy-low opportunity on a player with plenty of helium heading into 2024
  • Brendan Rodgers is now batting second instead of fourth
    • Rodgers is still failing to do much of anything offensively and is a prime candidate to lose his starting job if his struggles continue
    • Ezequiel Tovar is a prime candidate to move up in the lineup if Rodgers moves down
    • Alan Trejo and Aaron Schunk are two prime candidates to take over if the team benches Rodgers
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