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Kiké Hernandez, Yasmani Grandal inserted into Dodgers Game 2 lineup

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Yasmani Grandal and Kiké Hernandez, presumably when told they would start in Game 2.
Yasmani Grandal and Kiké Hernandez, presumably when told they would start in Game 2.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers made a few changes to their lineup for Game 2 of the NLDS against the Mets, starting Kiké Hernandez in center field and Yasmani Grandal at catcher.

Hernandez started six of seven games at center field in August before straining his left hamstring, an injury that sidelined him for a month, then started four of the final six games of the season at the position after returning, including four starts against right-handed pitchers.

That's why it was a little surprising to see Joc Pederson start in Game 1, even with a right-handed pitcher on the mound in Jacob deGrom. a Against another righty in Game 2, Noah Syndergaard, Hernandez starts on Saturday.

Hernandez hit .307/.346/.490 for the Dodgers in 218 plate appearances, and started at six different positions. Though he did the bulk of his damage against left-handed pitchers, hitting just .234/.262/.311 against righties.

Manager Don Mattingly wouldn't elaborate much on why Hernandez starts in Game 2 but didn't in Game 1.

"We thought he'd give us a better chance to win today," Mattingly said, then added, "Kiké with the match-up with Syndergaard think the way he matches up is a better chance."

Looking at the great Brooks Baseball, both deGrom (62.5 percent) and Syndergaard (58.5 percent) rely on a mix of four-seam fastballs against right-handed pitchers in 2015. Against those pitches from right-handed pitchers this year, Hernandez is 20-for-55 (.364) with three doubles and two home runs.

Against righties, deGrom throws the slider 20.3 percent of the time, and Hernandez has a 47-percent whiff rate and is 1-for-34 (.029) with two walks against sliders from righties. So if there was someone specifically against whom Hernandez might sit, deGrom seems to fit the bill.

Syndergaard throws 27.9 percent curves against righties. Against those pitches, Hernandez isn't much better, with a 41.7-percent whiff rate and 2-for-13 (.154). But it's not as dire as against sliders.

Grandal gets the start at catcher in Game 2, which isn't much of a surprise since he caught 26 of Zack Greinke's 32 starts during the regular season.

Grandal has also been dealing with inflammation in his left shoulder for two months, which caused him to end his season in a 4-for-84 slump, though with 19 walks during that span.

"When I talked to the doctor, he said there will be days you will feel it, and it's just a matter of whether you can go or not, or there will be days you think nothing happened until you make a certain movement," Grandal said. "I've been taking it day by day and seeing how it feels."

The other switch made by the Dodgers was moving Carl Crawford from leadoff to sixth in the batting order, moving everyone up one slot. Howie Kendrick bats leadoff, something he has done 25 times during his career in the regular season, with the last time coming June 11, 2014 with the Angels.

The Mets made one change, starting left-handed Michael Conforto in left field with Greinke on the mound. Michael Cuddyer, a right-handed hitter, started in left field in Game 1, and played two outs into doubles.