Giants @ Dodgers April 5, 2014: Heart You, Don Mattingly

dodger_stadium_openingday2013If you go back through the old MSTI archives, I’m pretty sure that I was begging the Dodgers to bench Andre Ethier against lefties since at least 2009 — maybe 2008. Either way, it’s been at least five years, and it just… never… happened. He was regularly in the lineup against lefties, and year after year he proved that he just could not hit them. In nearly 1,300 plate appearances, his line is .235/.294/.350, which is atrocious. (By comparison, Dee Gordon‘s career total is .260/.307/.318.) He never could hit lefties. He was never going to hit lefties. We probably didn’t need more than a thousand wasted at-bats to know this.

So imagine my reaction this morning when I saw today’s lineup and saw that not only is Ethier on the bench against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner, so is Carl Crawford, who is only mildly less objectionable against southpaws. Yasiel Puig is in after yesterday’s benching, which was expected, and Matt Kemp is in for a second day in a row, but Scott Van Slyke (!) is getting a start over the two highly-paid lefties. It’s wonderful. It’s perfect. It makes for a dangerous bench when Bruce Bochy brings in his righty relievers.

Giants
Dodgers 
1:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
CF
Pagan
RF
Puig
RF
Pence
2B
Turner
3B
Sandoval
SS
Ramirez
C
Posey
1B
Gonzalez
LF
Morse
CF
Kemp
1B
Belt
LF
Van Slyke
2B
Hicks
3B
Uribe
SS
Crawford
C
Ellis
P
Bumgarner (L)
P
Maholm (L)

It’s what should have happened years ago, and, if this becomes a regular thing — which we don’t know for sure, because it’s only one game — just watch Ethier’s overall season line look like a big improvement over 2013 and for everyone to talk about his “career year,” when instead he was just no longer put in a position to fail. I’m enjoying this. A lot.

Don Mattingly goes with the full platoon by going with Justin Turner over Dee Gordon at second base, and even though the platoon splits with that duo don’t really call for it, it’s fine, because you’ve got to let Turner start sometime — and I don’t hate the idea of having Gordon available as a late-game pinch-runner, either. (Yes, even if as a second baseman, Turner is legally obligated to bat second.)

Paul Maholm makes his Dodger starting debut, and for most of us, it’ll be the first time we’ll get a chance to see him, as he faced one batter (striking out Miguel Montero) in Australia back on March 23 and hasn’t been seen since. Josh Beckett, meanwhile, hurt his ankle fielding a bunt in his rehab start yesterday for Rancho.