In today’s episode of Dan Jennings Makes Some Odd Decisions, the Miami Marlins manager has put together an unusual lineup for Sunday’s finale in New York. Here is the Marlins batting order for today’s contest at Citi Field, where Miami is thinking sweep:
Hm, yes, OK. Jennings has Ichiro Suzuki hitting fifth, perhaps with the lefty-righty matchup in mind as Bartolo Colon is pitching for the Mets today. Ichiro has had some success against Colon in his career from their mutual days in the American League; he is hitting .290 with three home runs and two doubles against the portly 42-year-old hurler.
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Donovan Solano hitting sixth is not all that surprising, with Adeiny Hechavarria still on the mend and no other real quality bats on Jennings’ short bench. The fact that he is hitting in front of Christian Yelich–who has swung a hot bat lately–makes sense, only because you get the lefty-righty-lefty matchups later in the game.
The most peculiar part about this lineup, you will find, is pitcher David Phelps hitting eighth. Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton let us know in the pregame that this is only the fourth game in Marlins history that the pitcher isn’t hitting ninth. The other three times saw Dontrelle Willis hitting eighth–even seventh one time!–in a few of mad man Jack McKeon‘s lineups back in 2005.
With Jhonatan Solano in the lineup as usually seems to be the case on Sundays, you are essentially giving away outs in the nine hole. Batting him ninth is still a head-scratcher though because he’s a slow-running catcher. Typically the prevailing thought in the modern trend of batting pitchers eighth is that you insert a speedy guy in the ninth spot, giving your team the illusion of having two leadoff guys once the lineup turns over. But then Yelich is hitting right in front of the pitcher–basically like hitting him eighth in a normal lineup–and that just doesn’t work.
The Phelps-Solano 8-9 combo is about as dreadful a bottom of the order as you’ll find in baseball. And when Jeff Mathis gets back, it will mean sayonara to the elder Solano hermano.
As I write this, Jennings’ lineup has seen some moderate success in today’s early going. The Marlins have three hits, and a Yelich RBI groundout plated their first run of the afternoon. Colon helped his own cause with a stand-up RBI double in the second, and the Mets lead 3-1 in the bottom of the third.
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