Chad Billingsley needs to have a good sinker tonight

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That’s because Andre Ethier is making his first career start in center field for the Dodgers against the Diamondbacks and southpaw Wade Miley.

Manager Don Mattingly indicated last night that Ethier would make a limited number of starts in center with Matt Kemp out. Tony Gwynn Jr. will play there against righties, but shifting Ethier to center against lefties allows the Dodgers to get Scott Van Slyke’s bat in the lineup.

Unfortunately, it also makes for a pretty dreadful outfield defense. The Dodgers have Jerry Sands starting in left field alongside Ethier and Van Slyke tonight.

Now, I could live with all of that except for one thing… James Loney is starting at first base tonight. The James Loney who is hitting .152/.200/.212 in 33 at-bats against left-handers this year. The James Loney who is a career .248/.304/.361 hitter in 743 at-bats versus southpaws.

I just don’t see how the Dodgers could possibly be better off with Loney at first base tonight than with Gwynn in center and Sands at first base. Gwynn can’t hit lefties either (career .237/.291/.294 in 262 AB), but at least he’s a superior defensive center fielder. He’d make three positions better by being in the starting lineup.

Clayton Kershaw shut down with “an arm kind of thing”

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Spring training is just underway but Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is already being shut down indefinitely.

Kershaw threw two bullpen sessions this week and, as the Los Angeles Times reports, he “didn’t feel right” afterward. Manager Dave Roberts said it was “arm kind of thing,” which, viva specificity. Roberts did allow that it might be so-called “dead arm” but it’s too soon to know. For now he’ll be working out as usual but not throwing.

Kershaw has had an increasing number of nagging injuries and ailments over the past several seasons, limiting him to 26 starts last year, 27 the year before and 21 in 2016. Whether this is something serious or not is unknown, but at least he’s experiencing it now instead of the middle of the season.