Dodgers @ Marlins September 10, 2016: Andre Ethier Finally Returns

The Dodgers look to even up the series and notch their 80th win in Miami on Saturday after dropping the opener. With 22 games remaining in the regular season, LA is four games ahead of the San Francisco Giants.

Rich Hill (11-3, 1.94 ERA, 2.45 FIP) is set to make his third start for the Dodgers since he was acquired from the Athletics at the trade deadline. Although he is seemingly always battling a blister, Hill has impressed in his first two games with the Dodgers. He has yet to allow a run in 12 innings, and has struck out 11 batters while walking only two. Hill won his first two decisions in Blue, and last time out against the Padres he threw a dominating six innings only allowing one hit in the 5-1 win.

4:10 p.m. PT
 Puig  C  Mathis
Hill (L)
Koehler (R)

Doug Padilla of wrote of the potential top three starters for the Dodgers in the playoffs.

“The Marlins series is the key. The heart of the rotation will be pitching in that series as Kershaw, Hill and Maeda represent the Dodgers’ three probably lead dogs in an upcoming playoff rotation, assuming the Dodgers advance.”

This is assuming that Hill remains healthy and blister-free. The Dodgers have a number of starting pitchers they could go to if needed, but Hill’s talent and experience would be a invaluable postseason asset as the number two starter behind Kershaw.

Dustin wrote more about the potential postseason pitching rotation this week, bringing up the possibility of pitching rookie Jose De Leon. If Hill’s blister pops back up, De Leon’s likelihood of pitching in October goes way up. This series in Miami is looking like an important litmus test for the rotation.

It will be Hill’s first time facing the Marlins in his career. Ichiro Suzuki, out of the starting lineup, has three hits in 11 at-bats including two doubles against Hill in the past.

Tom Koehler (9-10, 3.87 ERA, 4.14 FIP) is 3-2 with a 2.94 ERA in six career games against the Dodgers. His last start against LA was back on April 26 at Dodger Stadium. He picked up the win, going five innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts and four walks. If you remember, Giancarlo Stanton smashed a home run against Kershaw during a five-run sixth-inning rally by Don Mattingly‘s Marlins.

Koehler has improved in the second half and has become one of the better Miami pitchers. He has increased his SO/W from 1.53 in the first half of the season to 3.06 so far in the second half. His WHIP has gone down from 1.563 to 1.167 thanks to a big decrease in walks. The right-hander has allowed only 17 free passes in his last 10 starts since the All-Star break.

It was great to see Clayton Kershaw back on the mound for the Dodgers on Friday even if he was a little rusty, and it seems like we’ll be seeing him again soon.

That’s good.

Andre Ethier, another long-tenured Dodger coming back from injury, was finally activated on Saturday after missing nearly the entire season after suffering a broken right leg during Spring Training on March 16. Ethier may get an occasional start in the outfield (like tomorrow), but he will mostly be used as a pinch-hitter.

After a lengthy rehab stint with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, going 9-for-31 (.290) with four doubles, Ethier rejoined his team just in time for what looks to be an exciting final stretch. Even if Ethier is not the same player from his Captain Clutch years, his left-handed bat off the bench will be a valuable option in late innings for Dave Roberts.

In a corresponding move, Casey Fien was designated for assignment to make room for Ethier.

The lineup has an interesting twist to it with Yasiel Puig penciled in at left field. It’s only the third game (second start) Puig has played in left field in his career, both games in 2013. The Puig-Joc PedersonJosh Reddick configuration is the outfield I envisioned when they acquired Reddick before Puig’s demotion.

Here’s to keeping that center field monstrosity frozen tonight.

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About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.