Dodgers @ Reds August 25, 2015: When Is A Benching A Benching?

The last time Joc Pederson was in Cincinnati, just about six weeks ago, he was flying high on the national stage after a thrilling second-place finish at the Home Run Derby. His offensive collapse was already well underway — I know that doesn’t fit within the narrative of the Derby “ruining his swing” — but at the time, he was just the exciting young All-Star center fielder on a first-place team.

Dodgers
Reds
4:05 p.m. PT
Cincinnati, Ohio
SS
Rollins
CF
Bourgeois
RF
Puig
SS
Suarez
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Votto
3B
Turner
2B
Phillips
LF
Van Slyke
3B
Frazier
2B
Utley
RF
Bruce
C
Ellis
LF
De Jesus
CF
Hernandez
C
Barnhart
P
Wood (L)
P
Lamb (L)

Back then, I’m not sure we could have contemplated a scenario where Pederson would have struggled so badly that he’d have lost his job to Enrique Hernandez by the time the Dodgers returned to Cincinnati, but that’s what’s happened — sort of. It’s true that by the end of the day tomorrow, it’s more than likely that Pederson’s name will have appeared in the starting lineup once in the previous seven days, Friday night’s no-hitter at the hands of Mike Fiers. If you look at it from that perspective, well, sure, that’s a benching.

Of course, like most things, it’s not that simple. Two of those days have been team travel days where no game was scheduled. Three of them, including tonight against John Lamb and (presumably) tomorrow against David Holmberg are lefties, which present obvious platoon situations for both Pederson and Hernandez. Only once, on Sunday against Lance McCullers, did Pederson sit against a righty.

So is that a benching? Sure. Nah. Maybe. Depends on how you want to perceive it. We won’t really know for sure until the Dodgers start facing righties regularly again.

* * *

Speaking of platoons: A.J. Ellis starts against the lefty, because he almost always does. He will tomorrow too, though that’s being attributed to Yasmani Grandal‘s sore shoulder. Shoulder or not, this is going to end up with Ellis against a lefty, Ellis against a lefty, and Grandal against a righty and with Zack Greinke. Funny how those things work out.

* * *

As everyone expected, Juan Nicasio was activated from the disabled list and is available tonight. He’s good, and you should want him around.

* * *
Finally, yes, that is former Dodger farmhand Ivan De Jesus starting in left for the Reds. Three years ago today, De Jesus left the Dodgers in the “Nick Punto trade,” the massive deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Punto to Los Angeles. Looking back, the deal seems like a win/win; the Red Sox cleared enough salary and bad feelings to help propel themselves to a 2013 World Series win, all four Dodger acquisitions provided some sort of value, and none of the six players that went to Boston were ever really missed.

As for De Jesus, he went 0-8 (with six whiffs) in a brief look with Boston in 2012, was traded to Pittsburgh in the Mark Melancon deal that winter, spent 2013 in Triple-A with the Pirates, and split 2014 in the minors for Baltimore and Boston. This year, he’s been a reasonably acceptable utility player for the Reds, starting at five positions.

About Mike Petriello

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