If you take a look at tonight’s lineup, you’ll notice a few things that are different.
Looking to close out the first homestand of the season with a W.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 6, 2020
Nick Markakis is getting his first start since being reactivated from the restricted list. Expect to see a lot more of that, especially after the injury to Matt Adams. Also, Adeiny Hechavarria will start in place of Ozzie Albies at second base. We will see if that is the norm going forward. Charlie Culberson received the start last night, but Johan Camargo is another option Snitker could utilize. However, the most noticeable absence from this lineup is Ender Inciarte.
To this point in the season, Inciarte has appeared in every game for the Braves, starting in all ten games against right-handed pitchers. Snitker has talked about giving his guys more rest early in this 60-game season, and he showed that just yesterday by giving Freddie Freeman a night off. But this appears to be more than that. When asked if he might continue to bench Inciarte against right-handed pitching, Snitker responded, “I might just roll with this for a while.”
Snitker said, "I might just roll with this for a while" when asked if he will continue sitting Inciarte against other RHPs.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 6, 2020
Frankly, this decision is long overdue. Inciarte has been a liability offensively for years, and the start to this season has been no different. He’s only hitting .188, and his advanced metrics suggest that it’s not going to get much better. Inciarte is in the bottom 1% in hard-hit percentage, bottom 11% in xSLG, bottom 27% in xwOBA, and bottom 17% in xBA. You may not know what most of those mean, but I’m here to say… it’s not good.
On the flip side, Adam Duvall has been red-hot to start this season. He has 7 hits in 17 at-bats (.412 average) with 2 homers and 7 RBIs, continuing his stellar work from 2019. In fact, dating back to last season, Duvall has a whopping 44 home runs in his past 154 games between AAA and the majors.
#Braves' Adam Duvall has 44 homers in a combined 154 games in majors and Triple-A since the beginning of the 2019 season, including 12 homers in 53 MLB games (149 PAs).
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) August 6, 2020
Duvall’s put in his dues and is more than deserving of starting every day in the outfield. But the question is, what does this mean for Inciarte? If he’s not playing defense for nine innings, he doesn’t offer much worth as a bat off the bench. Perhaps this is a sign that the Braves are finally considering moving on from him permanently, which could mean another acquisition is coming, or maybe the promotion of Cristian Pache.