Andre Ethier has apparently done enough to convince Don Mattingly and the Dodgers' management to return to the starting lineup. He'll get the nod in center and hit seventh behind Juan Uribe in Game 1 of the NLCS.
This is great news, at least if he's truly healthy. You get the feeling that it's one of those things where Ethier is feeling better, but both sides are trying to convince themselves that he really will be OK to start. Perhaps it will be one of those issues where they'll let him go until he shows signs of not being able to execute the way he should.
With that in mind, expect Skip Schumaker to have his glove ready and be stretched during every inning.
The Cardinals feature an all right-handed rotation (Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn), so Ethier's bat from the left side is essential. Schumaker also hits left, and while he did fairly well in the NLDS against the Braves, his bat doesn't have the game-changing impact that Ethier's does.
Of course, neither one of them has the impact that Matt Kemp's bat does, and this is the type of series where he will be sorely missed, but I digress.
Hopefully Ethier can provide some thump at the bottom of the order, as the Dodgers will look to steal back home field advantage with a win in any of the first couple of games. Some improved health plus Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw taking the ball means that is a good possibility of happening.