Lineup Takeaways: Breaking down the Washington Nationals lineup trends, Owen Miller’s hot start, and more

Mike Kurland discusses the early lineup trends, production, and other key information of the Washington Nationals that we should keep an eye on.

Welcome to the daily Monday through Friday article where we discuss all things lineups playing time, platoons, and production trends.

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Lineup Takeaways

I had to call an audible here. I decided the only way for this section to remain relevant daily is better to break down a full team’s lineup trends instead of picking separate individual trends. This article is a new concept so of course, there are growing pains. Let’s get to it. We will start in the NL East.

Washington Nationals

  • So far this season it has been a consistent top five of Cesar Hernandez, Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, Josh Bell, and Kiebert Ruiz. 
  • Juan Soto – two home runs, batting .280/.400/.520 and more walks (16.7%) than strikeouts (10%) – and Josh Bell – two home runs batting .346/.433/.615 with a 10% walk rate and 13.3% strikeout rate – have picked up where they left off.
  • Cesar Hernadez has hit for a good batting average to begin the season (.276) but the on-base skills (just a 3.3% walk rate and .300 OBP) and the power have been lacking to say the very least.
  • Victor Robles has started five of eight games and Lane Thomas has started six of eight games. Unfortunately, Victor Robles and Lane Thomas are both off to rough starts. Robles has yet to record a hit in 17 PA and Thomas is batting .136. Both are striking out at least 32% of the time. This explains why Yadiel Hernandez is getting a look.
  • Yadiel Hernandez has now started five of eight games as well including four of the last five. He is earning the playing time as he is hitting .412/.421/.471 on the season in just 19 plate appearances. Has also hit five RBI. Was caught stealing but at least he is attempting to steal bases. There is deeper league appeal here.
  • Alcides Escobar has been horrendous at the plate and it makes you wonder how long the leas is. A 47.8% strikeout rate early on and hitting .087/.087/.087. No, that is not a typo. He has 11 strikeouts and just two hits in his 23 plate appearances.

We’re Going Streaking

Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves
  • Picking up where he left off, Austin Riley is hitting .308/.455/.615 with two home runs, five runs, and 5 RBI early on. He has walked (18.2%) more than he has struck out so far (15.2%). If the plate discipline continues trending in a positive direction and he sustains a similar line drive rate as the last season (so far 21.1%) then a repeat of the success can take place.
Josh Lowe, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
  • He has not been off to the best of starts to an MLB career. He is showing us a patient approach to the plate. With a 19.2% walk rate and 34.6% strikeout rate (19.8% called strike rate) it shows right there alone. So although he is hitting just .143, his OBP is still .308. Early on he is making below average contact but has an elite O-Swing% of 17.2%. The plate discipline is there. There will be growing pains but an advanced eye should lead to success more times than not.
Jurickson Profar, OF, San Diego Padres
  • Profar is having a great start to the season. He is walking more than he is striking out. What is more impressive is the early power he is showing. He has two home runs in just 26 plate appearances. His barrel rate early on is 11.5%. This would be a huge increase if it held anywhere near this. He is pulling the ball 64.7% of the time while hitting an elite amount of line drives (29.4%). This change in approach could help the power play up but it is too early to tell if there is more to this than expected.

On The Peripheral

This is simply a spot to drop a name that could provide value or be relevant in general in deeper formats. This will have an emphasis on playing time.

Owen Miller, 1B, Cleveland Guardians

After the first couple of games, Owen Miller took over starting duties at first base over Bobby Bradley. Miller has two home runs and is hitting .524/.545/1.048. This comes with a sub-10% strikeout rate but walking just 4.5%. There is a lot of swinging and not a lot of miss happening here. Early on he has a 52.6% hard-hit rate (78th percentile). Everything is clicking to start the season. It is worth mentioning he has faced the Royals and the Reds to this point and that could have helped contribute to the fast start.

Notable Injuries and Lineup Fallout

We will break down the most notable injuries from the day prior and discuss those who gain from the increased opportunity.

Jonathan India pulled from last night’s game with tightness in his right hamstring.

Brandon Drury entered the game for India and hit a home run. Not much interest in the replacement here outside of NL-Only formats. Another option to fill in could be Mike Moustakas moves to second base and Colin Moran in at third base. Just a situation to monitor for you NL-Only players.

Extra Innings

Just a final section of added tidbits I want to throw in about anything I think is interesting or of note.

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Perfection through 7. The pitch count was only 80 pitches but Kershaw himself was fine with the decision. He had only built up to 75 pitches before this start from something I saw. Not to mention not throwing much before spring training either. His velocity was notably down with the slider down 1.8 MPH and curve down 1.9 MPH. He just may not need velocity to remain effective. He utilized the slider 51% of the time and it had a 63% whiff rate and the curve was utilized 14% and had a 50% whiff rate. If the stuff can remain this good, he should continue to succeed regardless of the velocity. 

Josiah Gray, SP, Washington Nationals

Velocity is down 1 MPH on the 4-seam and 2 MPH on the curve so far this season. Strikeouts are up early (26.3% from 24.8% last season) but the 30% O-Swing% and 11.1% SwStr% suggest the strikeouts might begin to dip if this doesn’t improve. 

We hope you enjoy this new daily concept. If you have questions please follow and reach out on Twitter. You can reach me @Mike_Kurland.

If you want a daily write up of the lineup trends in a team-by-team format, a weekly schedule trends chart, a daily position eligibility watch chart, and more check us out on Patreon. We offer a few options but the $3 Tier is where you can gain access to all this. Hope to see you there

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