Brantley batted fourth Wednesday in a lineup manager AJ Hinch said was a "pretty good example" of the batting order against right-handed starters, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Brantley could knock in 100 runs hitting fourth with on-base machines Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman hitting in front of him. Hitting behind Brantley will be Carlos Correa, which is pretty good protection. This could be a big year for the 32-year-old outfielder.
Brantley went hitless in two at-bats Wednesday against the Marlins. Manager AJ Hinch deployed what looked like an Opening Day lineup, which had Brantley, a left-handed batter, hitting fourth behind George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman (back) and ahead of Carlos Correa. "I do want him in the middle of all those righthanded hitters somewhere," Hinch told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. "And whether that falls ahead or behind of any of these guys, that's what I'm looking at this spring. I just want him up to bat with some traffic and somebody behind him that's a threat that can keep the line moving." A left-handed presence was missing from the middle of Houston's order last season, which is a main reason the Astros signed Brantley during the offseason. His excellent contact rate (9.5 K%) is a bonus, though it should also enable him to pile up a lot of RBI if he sticks in the heart of the order.
The Indians are not expected to extend a $17.9 million qualifying offer to Brantley before Friday's deadline, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as the Indians are light in the outfield and Brantley hit an impressive .309/.364/.468 with 17 homers and 12 stolen bases across 143 games in 2018. The 31-year-old missed extended time in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries, however, which could have influenced Cleveland's decision to let him hit the open market. He should draw plenty of interest around the league given his .295 career average across parts of 10 seasons.
Brantley is not in the lineup versus Kansas City on Thursday, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Brandon Guyer will give Brantley a spell in left field for the series finale as manager Terry Francona allows a few of his regulars the night off with the postseason right around the corner. In 19 games this month, Brantley is hitting .351 with a .923 OPS.
Brantley (calf) is starting in left field and hitting second Wednesday against the White Sox, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Brantley won't be forced to miss any additional time after exiting Tuesday's game in the sixth inning with a right calf contusion. The outfielder will look to stay hot over the final week of the season as he's slashing .352/.410/.521 with three homers and three stolen bases in 18 games this month.