Lingering Issues Addressed by Dodgers
The field of Dodger Stadium painted for the NLDS. LAist/Jimmy Bramlett
When we last left the Dodgers they had a lot of things to address for the playoffs. Manager Joe Torre had no idea who would start in St. Louis for game three of the National League Divisional Series nor who would start at second base.
These two questions finally had some sort of closure today.
The starter for game three will be Vicente Padilla while Chad Billingsley will start if there’s a game four in St. Louis.
“Padilla to me has been throwing the ball really well,” Torre said. “I was probably a little more comfortable with where Padilla is right now. I know Billingsley is getting there otherwise he wouldn’t even be considered for number four.”
Billingsley pitched a simulated game on Monday making 82 pitches.
“I’m a feeling a lot better on the mound,” Billingsley said. “The past two outings have went well. I’m getting better. That’s what you want to see.”
“The simulated game was fine,” Torre assessed. “He seemed to throw all his pitches. He seemed to have all his command.”
The other big announcement was the lineup for tomorrow’s game which has Ronnie Belliard getting the start in second base over Orlando Hudson.
“I think offensively he’s fresher right now,” Torre said. “We asked O-Dawg to do a lot of stuff early in the year, and he played his tail off and continues to do that. But it’s just a decision I decided to make.”
However this won’t preclude Hudson from getting the start further on down the road.
“We’ll go day-to-day right now,” Torre explained. “Against [Chris Carpenter] we’ll go with Belli. And we’ll see what we have.”
“I’m happy he felt well enough to do this,” Torre said referring to the strained groin muscle Belliard suffered during the final week of the season.
Hudson himself will be cheering Belliard on in the dugout.
“As long as he’s in there, I’ll be cheering for him just as if it’s anybody else,” Hudson said. “It’s no problem at all. He’s a great guy, a great teammate.”
This unselfishness is one of the reasons to Dodger fans should be optimistic about the team’s chances this postseason. They play as a team, cheer each other on and contribute as much as they can when called to duty.
A good way to illustrate this contribution is to look at what the pinch hitters did for the team. While the league average for pinch hitters was .230, Dodger pinch hitters notched a .253 average. Only the Colorado Rockies have a higher pinch hit average of all NL playoff contenders at .287. The Cardinals hit .221 while the Philadelphia Phillies hit a meager .184.
And the camaraderie they have developed in the clubhouse shows on the field. They scrap away until the final out is made as highlighted by their 42 come-from-behind wins and 23 wins in their final at-bat.
Despite the tragic death in the press box this afternoon and the line formed around the stadium by media folk who are picking the Cardinals to win, I am sticking with the Dodgers like I have all season long.
The Dodgers will defeat the Cardinals in five games.