Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Skip Schumaker, left to right, run to the… (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly saw most everything he tried work Thursday, save for another brain cramp by having Juan Uribe bunt in the fifth to just kill the inning.
Now Game 2 of the Dodgers’ division series comes Friday, and Mattingly had to decide if he wanted to make any lineup changes with Braves starting left-hander Mike Minor.
His answer was no, and I think that’s best.
The obvious move would have been to sit one of his left-handed hitters who struggle against left-handers. In the outfield, that meant Carl Crawford or Skip Schumaker.
Crawford is one of the two Dodgers four prized outfielders still standing, so he was an unlikely candidate to sit. But Schumaker is their third-string center fielder, pressed into duty because of injuries to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
Schumaker has historically struggled against left-handers, though his splits were actually close this year (.265 versus right-handers, .255 verses left-handers).
What Mattingly had to consider was how much he’d gain offensively by adding Scott Van Slyke to the outfield and sliding Yasiel Puig over to center, as opposed to how much he’d lose defensively.
And because the upgrade is not that great offensively, I’d have continued with Schumaker in center.
It’s not that Schumaker is Willie Mays out there, but he’s solid and smart and knows how to play the position. With Puig, it’s an adventure, and with this being his first postseason, why place him in an uncomfortable position?
Managers naturally tend to feel comfortable with what works, and Game 1’s lineup clearly did. For now, this is the best defensive outfield he has. And with Zack Greinke starting and a close game very possible, best to back him with the best defense you can.
Mattingly’s Game 2 lineup: Crawford (left), Mark Ellis (second), Hanley Ramirez (short), Adrian Gonzalez (first), Puig (right), Uribe (third), Schumaker (center), A.J. Ellis (catcher) and Greinke (pitcher).