Pirates @ Dodgers May 29, 2014: Lineup Stability, For A Fleeting Second

dodger_stadium_openingday2013The last time Matt Kemp started in left field, Dee Gordon, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner were in the Dodger lineup, Obama was in the White House, and social networking was extremely popular. Hmm. I guess that joke works a lot better when it’s been eight years since he played the position, and not less than 24 hours. But the upside to this, I suppose, is that between Kemp’s new position and Carl Crawford‘s new home on the disabled list, there’s a whole lot less of a need for lineup games. Other than Tim Federowicz getting behind the plate in place of Drew Butera, this is the same lineup we saw last night. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, even though last night wasn’t particularly full of offense.

Pirates
Dodgers
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
RF
Harrison
2B
Gordon
2B
Walker
CF
Ethier
CF
McCutchen
RF
Puig
1B
Davis
SS
Ramirez
C
Martin
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Alvarez
LF
Kemp
LF
Marte
3B
Turner
SS
Barmes
C
Federowicz
P
Cole (R)
P
Haren (R)

Of course, anything that doesn’t seem so bad can turn that way quickly, since Don Mattingly is already saying that he plans to start Andre Ethier in center tomorrow against lefty Francisco Liriano. Whether that means Scott Van Slyke (or, much more unlikely, Jamie Romak) gets the start in left over Kemp remains uncertain, but what is certain is that Ethier still can’t hit lefties and that this is a terrible, terrible idea. We’ve long established that Kemp is a lousy defensive center fielder, but Ethier isn’t exactly Carlos Gomez, either; the distance between the two with the glove is not nearly the distance between Ethier and any righty bat who isn’t Ethier at the plate against lefty pitching.

But that’s tomorrow, and this is tonight. Dan Haren makes just his second appearance at Dodger Stadium in the last month; four of his five May starts so far have been on the road. With the Reds moving on to Arizona, the Dodgers welcome the Pirates into town, and, well, let’s just say that 2013’s surprise darlings have been 2014’s total disasters. Replacing A.J. Burnett with Edinson Volquez in the rotation has been just as atrocious as you may have thought; there’s actually a pretty compelling case to be made that the Pirates have the worst rotation in baseball.

That’s not so much on Gerrit Cole, tonight’s starter, who is one of the brighter young lights in the game, but it’s certainly on Liriano, doing his usual “lousy year after a good year” routine, and Wandy Rodriguez, DFA’d last week, and yes, Volquez too. That the Pirates are a merely league-average offense isn’t helping matters either, and so the team sits at 23-29, eight games out in the NL Central, as fans desperately await the arrival of outfield prospect Gregory Polanco.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.