Dodgers Dugout: Chase Utley should not have been suspended; Game 3 preview

Chase Utley

Chase Utley will be the center of attention in Game 3.

(David Zalubowski / AP)

Hi and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, wondering which Dodger Matt Harvey will hit with a pitch.

The suspension

Major League Baseball announced Sunday night that Chase Utley has been suspended for two games for his late slide that broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in Game 2.

Joe Torre, when announcing the suspension, said: "I know Chase plays very hard. From my angle it looked like a hard slide. It really wasn't until I looked at video later on that I saw how late the slide was and how he sort of followed Tejada, sliding into him. It was based on the fact that he slid very late and it appeared to me he hit Tejada and the ground about the same time. He was more targeting the player as opposed to the base. He certainly didn't want to hurt him. He was just breaking up the double play, but I just thought it was a little bit much."

I have a handful of problems with this:

  •  If Tejada hadn’t been injured, there’s no way Utley is suspended. In fact, if Tejada hadn’t been injured, everyone (except Mets fans) would be congratulating Utley for playing hard-nosed baseball.
  • The hypocrisy of some Mets fans. If the situation had been reversed, and David Wright had bowled over Corey Seager, breaking his leg, Mets fans and the New York media would be talking about what a gamer Wright is and how unfortunate it is that Seager got injured. By the way, there are plenty of examples out there of Mets doing the same type of slide (late and out of the baseline) to pivot men. I’m sure you were just as outraged then. Here’s one example.
  • And I’m not letting every Dodgers fan off the hook. If the situation were reversed, there would be a lot of outrage in Dodgerland today.
  • If Utley deserved to be suspended, shouldn’t the umpiring crew get some sort of punishment for blowing the call? Seems to me that when you blow a call of this magnitude (and going by the rulebook, Utley should have been called out for interference), then the umpiring crew should get some sort of punishment.

I could go on, but I think if you take the emotion out of it and just look at the play, you will pretty much come to the same conclusions I did in Sunday’s newsletter. And yes, I would be saying the same thing if a Met had done that to a Dodger. Illegal slide? Yes. Dirty play? No. Intent to injure? No.

Utley is appealing the suspension, so he might play tonight if MLB doesn’t hear his appeal before then. Looking at this from a cold, analytical perspective, even if Utley is suspended, all it means is the Mets lost their starting shortstop for the rest of the postseason while the Dodgers lost a pinch-hitter for two games.

Adding to the intrigue of Game 3: Utley has a .333 average against Mets starter Matt Harvey. Would Don Mattingly dare start Utley at second base, if Utley is eligible to play?

The most important thing though, is to hope for a speedy and full recovery for Tejada. Dodgers fans should give him a standing ovation next time he plays at Dodger Stadium because he showed a lot of courage trying to turn two instead of just bailing when he had to know he was going to get knocked down.

Game 3 preview

The Dodgers play at New York tonight in Game 3, which starts at 5:30 Pacific time and will be televised on TBS. A look at how Mets batters have done against Brett Anderson, and how Dodgers batters have done against Matt Harvey:

Dodgers vs. Harvey (minimum five plate appearances)

Yasiel Puig, .600, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs

Joc Pederson, .400, 1, 1

Chase Utley, .333, 1, 2

Adrian Gonzalez, .273, 1, 1

Jimmy Rollins, .263, 2, 4

Andre Ethier, .250, 0, 0

A.J. Ellis, .250, 0, 2

Carl Crawford, .200, 0, 0

Yasmani Grandal, .200, 0, 0

Howie Kendrick, .167, 0, 0

In his career against the Dodgers, Harvey is 1-2 with a 4.50 earned-run average in four starts.

Mets vs. Anderson

Only three Mets have ever faced Anderson, who has never faced the Mets:

Curtis Granderson, .417, 1, 4

Michael Cuddyer, .083, 0, 0

Kelly Johnson, .000, 0, 0

The rest of the schedule

Game 4: Tuesday at New York, 5 p.m., TBA vs. Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27)

Game 5*: Thursday at Dodger Stadium, 5 p.m., TBA vs. Jacob deGrom

* if necessary. All times Pacific. All games on TBS.

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on to him. Here is his latest response:

Pastor W. Davis asks: I am a Yasiel Puig fan, and hope the Dodgers keep him next year. I feel he’s going to be an awesome player.

Ross, what do you think about Puig being with the Dodgers next season?

Ross: At this time last year, I proposed a trade sending Puig to the Marlins in exchange for Giancarlo Stanton. Puig would be extremely popular in Florida, where nearly 70% of all Cuban Americans in the U.S. live — nearly 1 1/2 million. Stanton grew up in Southern California and would become an instant favorite among Dodgers fans. But last November the Miami franchise signed Stanton to a 13-year, $325-million contract. That took care of my fantasy deal.

Puig has tremendous talent, Pastor Davis, as you know. He will be 25 in December. The Dodgers owe him nearly $25 million over the next three seasons. Puig missed more than half of the games this year because of injuries and doesn’t recover quickly. His numbers were down this season as he hit .255 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. His defense was good as he didn’t make many errors, and he has a strong arm. Yasiel struck out just over 20% of the time and walked 8%. Maybe it was because of his leg injury, but he didn’t steal many bases.

To me, Yasiel Puig is not an untouchable when it comes to a trade. The Dodgers would have to receive an outstanding player in return, perhaps a highly effective starting pitcher or a reliever who could be dependable in the eighth inning, setting it up for Kenley Jansen.

My feeling is the Dodgers cannot go into next season with the same players.

And finally

Zach Helfand takes a look at whether Saturday’s start could have been Zack Greinke’s final start as a Dodger. You can read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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