Lineup Takeaways: Breaking down the Chicago Cubs lineup trends, Jorge Mateo gaining eligibility, and more

Mike Kurland discusses the early lineup trends, production, and other key information of the Chicago Cubs 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.

Chicago Cubs

  • Before yesterday it had been a platoon at the top of the order. Clint Frazier would typically lead off vs LHP and Rafael Ortega led off against every RHP. Then an LHP throws and Frazier is not in the lineup at all. 
  • Clint Frazier so far on the season batting .158/.238/.263. The plate discipline has been solid – 19% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate – but the production otherwise has not been there.
  • Rafael Ortega does have an OBP of .333. Leading off will sustain as long as he remains getting on base at a solid clip but batting .158 and little production otherwise leaves much to be desired. He is currently nothing more than a deep league option to stream vs RHP. He is pulling the ball 70% of the time and has a 62.5% ground ball rate. This will not help his BABIP improve and the batting average issues might not go away anytime soon if this approach sustains. 
  • Nick Madrigal has hit inside the top two in the order in seven of eight of his starts. He is continuing to do Madrigal things. He does not strike out much (8.6%) or walks much (5.7%). The contact rates and Z-Contact (93.9%) are elite and his strength. The .281 batting average and .343 OBP are sustainable but the lack of power and unknown expectations of speed leaves little to be desired from a fantasy point of view. 
  • Ian Happ plays about every day but moves down to 8th vs LHP and 4th vs RHP. The production has been good but no home runs or stolen bases but with 6 RBI so far and hitting .345 – 2 extra-base hits – the power will come as the weather warms. 
  • Seiya Suzuki has been an absolute stud. We saw him bat 4th for the first time. He was batting 5th and 6th previously. Of his 12 hits, this season six have been extra-base hits (four home runs). A 1.493 OPS is about as good as it gets to start a career. 
  • Jonathan Villar is off to a strong start and after four straight starts, he was “rewarded” with two days off. This lineup is increasingly frustrating to monitor. It is difficult to get an idea of what they are doing and to pick up on trends they are utilizing as they change it up a bit early on. 
  • Jason Heyward starts against every RHP and bats 7th. Production has been surprising so far. Hitting .333/.400/.444. No power or speed yet but still serviceable in the deepest of formats.

We’re Going Streaking

Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Detroit Tigers

After a slow start, Tork has been hot over the last seven games. Correcting the strikeout rate over this span (just 16.7%) while finding his powerful strike. He has two home runs with five RBI with a .467 ISO. Let’s see how he can carry over the recent success.

Luke Voit, 1B, San Diego Padres

Over the last seven games, Voit has been striking out over 40% of the time and this has led to a 34% strikeout rate overall to start the year. He has more stolen bases (1) than home runs. Voit only has one extra-base hit this season overall.

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.

Jorge Mateo, SS/OF, Baltimore Orioles

Welcome to eligibility day. Jorge Mateo officially gains eligibility today at shortstop and middle infield. This is for deeper leagues. The appeal here is the three stolen bases of the year. He is hitting .273 on the year and has a .351 OBP. Unfortunately, he bats at the bottom of the order. He plays every day and will run so if you are desperate for speed that won’t bury your batting average (at least for now), Mateo is worthy of a look.

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.

Jose Altuve was lifted from the game last night. Considered DTD with a strained hamstring. 

We should get more information throughout the day today. We could see an IL stint but we need to wait and see. Aledmys Diaz is my guess as to who grabs the paying time in the interim at shortstop. Diaz is who replaced him last night.

Extra Innings

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

Michael Wacha, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Making it to 5 IP this start was a step in the right direction. The walks have been a bit much (4.82 BB/9) and he has been lucky on the strand rate as well. He is inducing the most groundballs since 2019 so far but yet to let up a home run. His below-average O-Swing% and SwStr% suggest the K’s are not likely to come anytime soon either. Overall he is getting by but there is a path for it to get ugly for him. Something new so far is the increased usage in the curve. 10.6% compared to just 6.3% from last season. This gives him 4 pitches above 10% usage.

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 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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