Lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS are in: (hat tip Dodger Thoughts)
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, LF
Manny Ramirez, LF
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Ronnie Belliard, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Randy Wolf, P
Wait, Belliard over Orlando Hudson? They had basically shared the job for the month of September, so on the surface that shouldn’t be all that surprising. But what is surprising is that you absolutely have to start Belliard in Game 2 against Adam Wainwright, just based on what I wrote in my “reasons to be happy to face the Cardinals” post a few days ago:
3) The Dodgers have a great history of hitting Adam Wainwright.
Six Dodgers have had eleven or more at-bats in their careers against Wainwright, and five have had great success – and the one who hasn’t is Brad Ausmus, who won’t be facing him anyway.
Look at those OPS numbers! What will be really interesting will be the second base decision in that game; as you can see, Ron Belliard has done very well against Wainwright, but Orlando Hudson, who would have been next on this list, has just one hit in ten at-bats against him.
There’s no way you don’t start Belliard against Wainwright in Game 2; not only has he hit him in the (admittedly small sample size) past, but Hudson has had terrible luck against him. That being the case, are you really going to start Belliard the first two games and relegate Hudson to a full-fledged bench player? Neither one can hit Chris Carpenter a lick (combined 1 single in 14 tries), so there’s no sense in playing the numbers there.
I suppose this also means the Dodgers are confident in Belliard’s hamstring, despite his missing a week and getting just one at-bat in the season finale. Or maybe it was just the fact that Hudson ended the season on a 1-13 tear that caused them to make that call. So I’m okay with this, as long as Belliard starts in Game 2 as well.
In other news, a bit of a surprise comes with Vicente Padilla being named the Game 3 starter over Chad Billingsley, with Billingsley going in Game 4. You’d think I’d be mad about this - the veteran retread picked up for free getting the nod over the talented young star who I’ve advocated for.
But you know what? I’m not. Billingsley still gets a start – this isn’t Padilla and Jon Garland over Billingsley – and Padilla was so dominant against the Rockies on Sunday that it’s hard to not want to see that again. Besides, Padilla’s had great success against these Cardinals, allowing just one homer in 73 plate appearances (and that to Troy Glaus, who might not even play) and has been especially crushing to Mark DeRosa, who’s hitting just .182 in 24 shots against Padilla.
So I get it. And I don’t mind it that much. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that Vicente Padilla is the Game 3 starter in the NLDS. Not Chad Billingsley. Not Hiroki Kuroda. Vicente Padilla. Face=melt.
God, I love the playoffs.