Monday, October 14, 2013

Dodgers would be wise to sit Ethier

There's still no word on whether or not Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier will be able to give it a go for Game 3 of the NLCS.  There's plenty on the line, obviously, as the Dodgers desperately need to win this one to avoid going down 3-0.

Having Ramirez's bat in the lineup, even at 50%, would be huge for the Dodgers.  Opposing pitchers still have to very much account for him and the impact his swing can make.  He's already had a CT scan, but as of now, those results aren't available.

Ethier is also trying to fight his way back into the lineup, as he sat out most of Game 2 before striking out to end it.  I can certainly admire his desire to play, but I have to ask the question: Is putting him in the starting lineup even a good idea at this point?

The answer, I'm sorry to say, is clearly no.

The Ethier we are seeing now is a shell of his former self, the guy who was the glue in the outfield for nearly the entire season when Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp were hurt, and Yasiel Puig was still in Double-A.  That guy didn't have a big bat power-wise, but had 47 extra-base hit in 142 games while playing some great defense, especially in center when Kemp was out.

Now?  Not so much.  He pinch-hit in all four games against the Braves in the NLDS, and went 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout.  In Game 1 of the NLCS, he found his way back in the starting lineup in center, and responded by going 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts.  There was also the double by Carlos Beltran that scored two runs which wasn't caught at the wall.  Fair or not, it's safe to question whether Skip Schumaker would've caught that ball.  We'll never know.

As if he didn't look bad enough in Game 1, the way he struck out to end Game 2 was especially alarming.  Three fastballs from Trevor Rosenthal, three weak swings and misses by Ethier.  Yikes.

Seeing Schumaker's name etched in center at the start of Game 3 is not going to create all sorts of excitement for Dodger fans.  He's only hitting .176 this October (3-for-17) with two RBIs.  But, it's the right thing to do.  Ethier's ankle is simply not in the shape it needs to be to automatically grant him the starting nod.  Kudos to him for trying, but right now, he looks like an easy 0-for-4 against someone as good as Adam Wainwright.

I certainly hope Ethier can somehow find a way to get healthier before time runs out on the Dodgers in 2013.  Based on his .111 postseason average, Don Mattingly can't afford to go with him again in the biggest game of the year for the Dodgers.  And whether or not Ethier claims he's good to go should be a moot point.  The best players need to be in tonight's lineup who give the Dodgers their best chance to win.

That's Schumaker, not Ethier.

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