Could Game 1 loss lead to lineup changes?
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has held the mantra that he puts out the best lineup for that day, each day. After the Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the National League Division Series in a 3-1 loss to the Mets, speculation began on how that lineup could change for Game 2.
Runs were hard to come by on Friday night as starters Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw dueled at Dodger Stadium with the Mets seizing a 1-0 series lead. Los Angeles was shut out through seven innings while deGrom was on the mound and its lone run came on an RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth.
"Both starting pitchers lived up to advance billing and it was tough to find the barrel for a lot of guys out there today," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Mattingly surprised many by starting the slumping Pederson in center field over utilityman Kiké Hernandez in Game 1. While he provides elite defense in center, Pederson saw his offensive production decline as the season progressed: after hitting .298 in April, the rookie hit no better than .236 in a month and is hitting .178 since the All-Star break.
"It's kind of what we thought was best for today. Same old story. Trying to match up, and thought that was best," Mattingly said.
Pederson was 0-for-3 including the final out of the game, a slow roller back to Mets closer Jeurys Familia. If Hernandez, who is hitting .307 this season, replaced Pederson on Saturday, it could provide flexibility in the lineup, as Hernandez has hit in every spot in the lineup except third this season.
Things don't get any easier for the Dodgers as the Mets roll out another flamethrowing right-hander in Noah Syndergaard for Game 2 (9 p.m. ET/6 PT on TBS). While Mattingly wouldn't commit to lineup changes, he said that Syndergaard presented a different threat than deGrom.
"Each day is individual. Syndergaard's a little different than deGrom," Mattingly said. "He just mixes a little bit different. We'll just look at it and put the best lineup out there for tomorrow."
Another surprise was rookie phenom Corey Seager in the No. 3 spot of the lineup. Seager was the youngest position player to start in a playoff game in Dodgers history and Game 1 was only his third start of the season hitting third. He finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts -- his lone hit was a slicing double in the left-field corner that Michael Cuddyer misplayed for a ground-rule double.
If Hernandez slid into the lineup near the top, it could bump second baseman Howie Kendrick back to No. 3 and slide Seager down the lineup to No. 6 and add more length to the Dodgers' order.
And the wild card, as always, is Yasiel Puig. Puig has looked rusty to Mattingly after playing in just two games in September in a return from a hamstring injury, but he has the ability to provide a spark when healthy.