For the third night in a row, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton are sitting on the bench when there are big implications on not only the NL East chase, but more importantly, home field advantage in the playoffs.
Dan and B.J. are the two highest paid players on the roster. They have also been two of the worst players in baseball this season, according to Baseball-Reference's WAR numbers. They've been awful lately, even with B.J. showing a few signs of life since coming off the disabled list.
As Mark Bowman wrote yesterday, the Braves cannot afford to keep Jordan Schafer out of the lineup right now with Jason Heyward still recovering from a broken jaw. Schafer has cooled down since the All-Star Break, but he's still the club's best option at leadoff right now.
Fredi Gonzalez tried to slot B.J. into the leadoff spot against the Phillies and went 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts and no walks. And with Evan Gattis looking a lot more like Evan Gattis from April and May lately, it's really tough to keep him out of the lineup.
Uggla, on the other hand, is hitting .085/.290/.085 in his last 93 plate appearances and continues to be a liability in the field. Elliot Johnson hasn't been a world-changer since coming over last month, but given the upgrade he provides with his glove, his excellent work on the base paths and the ability to have his bat make contact with the baseball every once in a while, it only makes sense to play him.
All of this leads to the bigger debate of who plays in the playoffs. If the NLDS started tomorrow and Jason Heyward was healthy, I'd have to think it would be J-Hey in center field and Gattis in left, with Johnson starting at second.
In a perfect world, B.J. and Dan hit like they have over the past five seasons and the Braves have the best lineup in baseball. That's not the case, though, and if the last six months are any kind of indication, hoping for them to suddenly turn it around seems improbable.
Here's tonight's lineup:
J. Upton 9
C. Johnson 5
E. Johnson 4