Earlier Matthew asked whether Jerry Manuel’s idea to bat Jose Reyes third is a good idea. Here’s a second question: Would it make a difference?
It probably won’t. There have been multiple studies of lineup optimization over the years. For the most part they conclude that the particular lineup doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference. Oh sure, on average the guys near the bottom of the order will get fewer plate appearances than the guys at the top, but as long as you group your better hitters near the top and your worse ones near the bottom, the specific slots don’t much matter.
The upshot: as long as Manuel has Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Bay up near the top it probably doesn’t matter who’s third. The only thing that could change this is something Manuel himself pointed out, and that’s that it might be a bad idea if such a move gives Reyes the heebie jeebies. And like I said this morning, the manager’s primary job is to keep things on an even keel.
So feel free to mess around Jerry. The papers will squawk some, but they’re going to do that no matter what you do, so you may as well do what you want to do.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.