Dodgers @ Cardinals Oct. 7, 2014: NLDS Game 4, Also DOOM

You know, some fans wait decades for even a token playoff appearance. They cheer, and they celebrate. I’m not sure if I’ve been excited for any of these games. I don’t know if this has been fun or not. I’m not sure if that says more about me or this team.

Dodgers
Cardinals
2:00 P.M.
St. Louis
2B
Gordon
3B
Carpenter
LF
Crawford
RF
Grichuk
1B
Gonzalez
LF
Holliday
RF
Kemp
SS
Peralta
SS
Ramirez
1B
Adams
CF
Ethier
C
Molina
3B
Uribe
CF
Jay
C
Ellis
2B
Wong
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Miller (R)

Anyway, you know the big news by now, and you thought it was going to be about Clayton Kershaw pitching on three days rest, didn’t you? (My take, as though anyone needs it: I’m definitely uncomfortable with the idea, but in a do-or-die scenario, I’d rather a maybe-not-full-strength Kershaw over any amount of Dan Haren. I’m just worried, mostly, that Kershaw doesn’t do well for whatever reason, and then it’s a winter’s worth — a lifetime’s worth, maybe — of “the Cardinals are in his head, derp!”)

Obviously, the news of the day is… Yasiel Puig isn’t starting in center field. Andre Ethier is. I can’t even. It’s the single most important game of the year, and the team’s best player is on the bench.

Why?

If I’ve learned anything from years of listening to Mattingly quotes, it’s that what he says is rarely to be taken at face value. In this case, “best chance to win” pretty clearly has absolutely nothing to do with Ethier, and everything to do with Puig. I will say this, at least: Puig has looked really, really bad the last two games. I didn’t spend so much time writing words and making GIFs about his whiff streak over at FanGraphs for my own health.

But man, do I hate overreacting to a tiny sample size of “two games,” don’t you? Especially when Puig tripled and scored the only run yesterday? If we were really making calls based on that, then Justin Turner would be in the lineup in place of Dee Gordon or Juan Uribe, neither of whom has done much. That hasn’t happened, because changing your opinion of a player based on three games (other than due to injury) is absolutely insane. It appears that’s what has happened with Puig, and it’s more than a little frustrating. Maybe they really do think that Yadier Molina is “in his head,” I don’t know.

I really can’t say I’m that excited to see Ethier, honestly, because this isn’t just a questionable decision on offense, it’s definitely a downgrade on defense. Have you forgotten this, already?

And, since Carl Crawford moves up to the two spot, that makes for three consecutive lefties, and four if you count Kershaw. When Shelby Miller comes out, you imagine that the Cards would want a lefty in that situation, and maybe that’s the plan — get Ethier two plate appearances against the righty, then get him out to get Puig’s superior defense and (presumably) make sure Ethier doesn’t face a lefty. (There is NO scenario here where Ethier facing a lefty is acceptable.) Either way, Puig, Turner and Van Slyke on the bench sounds like a pretty fun group.

Ultimately this choice may not matter so much, because I imagine in a few hours we’ll either be bemoaning Kershaw on three days rest or mainlining black tar heroin over another bullpen implosion. (*Spins wheel of death*… oh, no. Your number is up, Brian Wilson. So sorry.) I don’t love this decision by Mattingly, but the ones I’ve defended haven’t worked, so maybe this one will.

Thanks, baseball. You suck.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Mike Petriello

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