Another week, another In Some Depth. There are not many weeks left, so let us quickly take a look at the leagueís depth charts and batting orders.
Without any further ado...
Starter: Mike Moustakas
Next: Cheslor Cuthbert, Ben Zobrist
Cheslor Cuthbert has seen quite a bit of action at third base the past week, starting four consecutive games against the White Sox and Tigers. That stretch was likely attributable to the Royals facing a steady stream of left-handed starting pitchers, in addition to the Royals wanting to rest Mike Moustakasí hamstring. Moustakas was back in the lineup Sunday and Monday, but there is a good chance that Cuthbert gets some additional ABís at third down the stretch, especially if the Royals coast into their playoff berth.
White Sox 3B
In the mix: Mike Olt, Tyler Saladino, Carlos Sanchez, Gordon Beckham
Remember Mike Olt (Mike Olt!)? He has somehow found his way into a window of available playing time after hitting poorly for the Cubsí organization for the past 16 months. Olt was once one of the top power prospects in the minor leagues, but his star has dimmed for the past three seasons. However, the White Sox are without a short- or long-term solution at third base (sorry, Tyler Saladino and Matt Davidson, respectively), and Olt could fill both questions. Olt started his first two games in the White Sox organization, achieving two hits and striking out three times. All signs point to him getting the nod more often than not in Chicago, and one has to be a bit excited about him playing a dozen or so games at U.S. Cellular Field. Carlos Sanchez could also see some time at third base once Micah Johnson clouds the picture at second.
Starter: Taylor Featherston
Next: Grant Green
On the disabled list: Johnny Giavotella
Johnny Giavotella has been on the disabled list since August 25 with fourth nerve palsy, which causes double vision when he looks in certain directions. His long-term prognosis is still pending, but his return this season remains doubtful. Grant Green first stepped into his spot at second base, but Taylor Featherston has been the man since the calendar changed to September and he returned from the disabled list. Featherston put up consecutive multi-hit efforts Sunday and Monday, and there is no reason for him to not play everyday as the Angels make their final push to the postseason.
In the mix: Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella
Next: Chris Coghlan
The Cubsí second base situation used to be simple to dissect. Only one had to consider the out-of-position Addison Russell. Now, Russell is in his proper place at short, while four other Cubs have been thrown at second base. Starlin Castro would probably have a firm hand one role if he were more consistent with his bat and glove. But heís not. So the door is also open for Chris Coghlan, Tommy La Stella, and Javier Baez. Even when Castro is at second base, Coghlan may be found in the outfield, while La Stella and Baez have each started at third base. Third will no longer be an option for the latter two once Kris Bryantís ribs are right, and La Stella and Baez will probably end up in part-time roles. In other words, donít let Baez tempt you in redraft formats.
In the mix: Austin Hedges, Derek Norris
Unlike many top prospects, the Padres recalled Austin Hedges months ago, and then they let him sit on the bench without the possibility of regular playing time. Derek Norris has been perfectly serviceable and perfectly healthy for much of the season, so Hedges was just ďaround.Ē However, Hedges has finally gotten the opportunity to start behind the plate on a regular basis of late, with Norris coping with a shoulder injury and the Padres no longer deluding themselves about their playoff chances. It would not surprise me to see Hedges get half (if not more) of the teamís catching starts for the rest of the month, even if Norris returns to health.
Rays No. 2
There is a saying in many northern cities about the weather - ďif you donít like it, just wait a couple minutes.Ē The same can be said for the Tampa Bay Raysí lineup. The team has used 111 distinct batting orders in 2015, with manager Kevin Cash using the same configuration no more than 5 times. The only consistent force has been Evan Longoria in the No. 3 spot. Ahead of him lately has been Daniel Nava, who had started nine of 11 games there entering Monday. Mikie Mahtook got the nod at 2 Monday, but he gave way to Nava midway through the game. Nava has a .360 OBP in his two-dozen games with the Rays, but he continues to muster a below-average batting average while positing little power or speed.
Astros No. 4
Evan Gattis is back in the cleanup spot for the Astros. He has been the teamís most frequent No. 4 hitter this season, but he fell out of favor for much August, and the team looked to Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus to bat fourth. However, Gattis was back in the cleanup spot on August 31 after slugging .481 in the previous month, and he started the new month with a .381 OBP.
Mets No. 3/No. 4
Welcome to the heart of the Metsí lineup, Michael Conforto. It is a small sample, but Conforto hit fourth for the Mets on September 4, and then third on September 6. Of course, he went back to No. 5 after, but it is encouraging to see manager Terry Collins entrust his young slugger with a key lineup position after hitting him sixth and seventh for the majority of his rookie campaign. the two, three, and four spots of the Metsí lineup remain very much in flux, with Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright cycling through those spots.
Marlins No. 3
Christian Yelich has hit second in every game since returning from a knee injury on September 1. He should not budge from the spot the rest of the way out, with Martin Prado (and perhaps Giancarlo Stanton) in place at No. 3.
Cardinals No. 3
Jhonny Peralta has been the Cardinalsí primary No. 3 batter since Matt Holliday went down in late-July, but Jason Heyward has entered the picture of late. However, Heyward has an OPS below .650 over the past two weeks, so we shall see if he sticks in the spot. Hollidayís return is still very much TBD, if he is able to return at all.