Dodgers Bet On Youth, Keep Jerry Sands, Promote Dee Gordon

Welcome to the show, Dee.

In today's game preview of the opening game with the Phillies, I had planned to list the three Dodgers activations (Juan Uribe, Marcus Thames, Blake Hawksworth) as a footnote, as the corresponding moves seemed obvious: in addition to Ivan DeJesus and John Ely, rookie outfielder Jerry Sands was headed to Albuquerque.

Only that didn't happen.

It's fitting that on the day of the MLB draft, the Dodgers have bet on youth. Not only did the Dodgers keep Sands, a how of faith for someone hitting .210/.301/.345 but at times showing promise, but they brought up shortstop Dee Gordon as well. To make room, both Jay Gibbons and Juan Castro were designated for assignment, in addition to DeJesus getting optioned. This is literally stunning to me.

Anyway, on to the regular preview, as scheduled...

The Dodgers have won three straight series, but now have to face the best team in the National League as they travel to their personal hell, otherwise known as the city of Philadelphia. There has been no brotherly love in the last three years when the Dodgers travel to Citizens Bank Park:

That's three wins and 12 losses in the past three seasons. But don't worry, the Dodgers don't have to face Roy Halladay during this series. They just get Messrs. Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

Today's pitching matchup features a pair of former Expos*, and two of the top five in strikeout-to-walk ratio in the National League. Ted Lilly, with 12 walks and 49 strikeouts (4.08) in 70 1/3 innings this season, ranking fifth. Lee ranks second at 4.74, with 90 strikeouts and 19 walks in 80 innings.

In Lilly's last three starts, he is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA, with two walks and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings. In his career, he has made six starts against the Phillies, and is 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA. Ryan Howard is 4-for-14 in his career against Lilly, but those four hits included a double and two home runs. Lilly has had better success against fellow lefties Raul Ibanez (3-for-14, .695 OPS) and Chase Utley (3-for-11, .697 OPS).

Lee has faced the Dodgers just twice in his career, including the playoffs, and has allowed just one run in 15 1/3 innings. He is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, allowing six runs in 5 1/3 innings against Washington. Lee has done much better at home this season. In six starts at CBP, Lee is 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA with seven walks and 51 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Literally no current Dodger has had career success against Lee. The only one with more than one hit off Lee is Juan Castro, who is 2-for-11, but Castro is now history. Castro is one of two Dodgers (as of this morning!) with a double off Lee, and the other is Dioner Navarro, though that is his only hit in 16 at-bats. Both catchers are a combined 1-for-28 off Lee, with a hit by pitch (by Rod Barajas, his only time on base against Lee).

*Lee never actually pitched for Montreal, as he was drafted in 2000 but was traded to Cleveland in the Bartolo Colon deal in 2002, the year Lee made his MLB debut.

Howard & Counting Stats

It seems with Ryan Howard, much of the talk surrounding the lumbering slugger is about how bad he is. Sure, his contract is atrocious -- the five-year, $125 million deal won't kick in until next season, and pays Howard for ages 32-36 -- but the anti-Howard noise is a little too loud at times. I suppose though that it's the natural reflex when a player is generally overrated by the national media, which Howard has been (overshadowing a better teammate in this case, in Chase Utley).

However, it's easy to see why Howard gets hyped by traditional media: it's all about the traditional stats. Howard has put up ridiculous home runs and RBI totals ever since he came up. In fact, Howard has put those numbers up more than almost everyone at this stage of his career. Here are the top home run and RBI totals through 933 games, which is the number Howard has played so far, since 1939:

Most Home Runs & RBI Through First 933 Career Games, Since 1939
Player HR Player RBI
Ryan Howard 265 Ted Williams 795
Ralph Kiner 259 Ryan Howard 794
Harmon Killebrew 257 Juan Gonzalez 769
Albert Pujols 250 Manny Ramirez 769
Juan Gonzalez 248 Albert Belle 762

Lineups

Look at all those right-handed hitters!

Dodgers Phillies
SS Carroll CF Victorino
2B Miles 3B Polanco
LF Thames 2B Utley
CF Kemp 1B Howard
3B Uribe
LF Francisco
1B Blake C Ruiz
RF Sands
RF Brown
C Barajas SS Valdez
P Lilly P Lee

Game Time: 4:10 p.m.

TV: KCAL

MLB Gameday

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