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NLDS, Game 1: Mets vs. Dodgers lineups

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Here are the lineups for the Mets and Cardinals for Game 1 of the NLDS, starting at 9:45 PM EDT at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on Friday night.

METS:

RF Curtis Granderson
3B David Wright
CF Yoenis Cespedes
2B Daniel Murphy
C Travis d'Arnaud
1B Lucas Duda
LF Michael Cuddyer
SS Ruben Tejada
SP Jacob deGrom

Wilmer Flores is battling strep throat, so Ruben Tejada gets the call to start at shortstop for the Mets. Also notable is veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer getting the start in left field over hot-hitting rookie Michael Conforto. Cuddyer mustered a meager .699 OPS during an injury-plagued campaign, while Conforto wowed with an .841 OPS since debuting in the majors shortly after the All-Star break.

DODGERS:

LF Carl Crawford
2B Howie Kendrick
SS Corey Seager
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Justin Turner
RF Andre Ethier
C A.J. Ellis
CF Joc Pederson
SP Clayton Kershaw

Outfielder Yasiel Puig is riding the bench, which is no surprise. Puig spent most of the second half sidelined with a hamstring injury and returned just before the end of the regular season. He’s currently battling back spasms. Ethier performs very well against right-handed pitching — he posted a .900 OPS against them this season — so expect Puig to ride the bench until Game 4 (if necessary), when lefty Steven Matz starts for the Mets. Also noteworthy is rookie Corey Seager hitting third to open the post-season for the Dodgers. Seager, one of baseball’s top prospects entering the season according to most, hit .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances after making his big league debut on September 3.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.