Phillies @ Dodgers July 18, 2012: Lee vs Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw! Cliff Lee! As far as marquee pitching matchups go, it’s hard to top that. And hey, Javy Guerra is back, with Stephen Fife sent back to Albuquerque to make room as expected.

Except… man, things are bad right now. The Dodgers have lost 7 of 8 and 18 of their last 24, and a lineup that has Juan Rivera at cleanup (along with Juan Uribe & Luis Cruz existing) isn’t likely to change that. Interestingly, Tony Gwynn gets the start in right field, which would be his first there since 2009. (Yes, you can argue that Gwynn in center and Matt Kemp in right is a better alignment. No, it’s not worth it for one game.) I don’t mind sitting Andre Ethier against one of the best lefties in baseball, because while it’s not like Gwynn – having the worst offensive season of an already-mediocre offensive career – can hit Lee either, at least you’ll get the defensive boost.

Phillies
Dodgers
SS
Rollins
RF
Gwynn
CF
Victorno
2B
M.Ellis
2B
Utley
CF
Kemp
C
Ruiz
1B
Rivera
RF
Pence
LF
Hairston
1B
Wigginton
3B
Uribe
3B
Polanco
SS
Cruz
LF
Mayberry
C
A.Ellis
P
Lee
P
Kershaw

Back to the bigger picture, ESPN’s Buster Olney noted how aggressive the Dodgers look to be ahead of the trading deadline, and I couldn’t agree more with his assessment:

In my opinion, the Dodgers’ new ownership shouldn’t feel pressure to make the playoffs. The question that should be asked, in the midst of L.A.’s month-long slump, should not be “What the hell is wrong with this team?” Rather, it should be, “How the heck did these guys win so many games early?”

It’s a flawed team, and the new ownership really hasn’t had much time to apply its vision of roster reformation. Overpaying to improve the 2012 Dodgers feels like an overreaction.

I don’t want to act like one July game against a non-division team really has a great deal of importance over a long season, but if the Dodgers lose today with Kershaw on the mound, they’ll have been swept by a team on pace for 90 losses and will have a long, long off-day tomorrow as they travel to New York to face the Mets. Desperation plus the trading deadline never ends well, and make no mistake, things are desperate.

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