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Matchup/Preview/Game Thread Game # 19 vs. Dodgers 7:05 CST

Derek Lowe--the Jesus of Cool
Derek Lowe Andy Pettitte
1 - 1, 4.50 1 - 3, 5.25

Talk about kissing your sister, or damning with faint praise; the Dodgers lead the league in singles.

Lead the league in singles. Think about that.

It ain't bad, but it ain't all that good, either. You'd certainly lead with another bragging point if you could.

Certainly, by some metrics, the Dodgers appear to be a pretty good offensive club. They're fourth in OBP, for example. They're second in walks. Hell, they're sixth in team batting average, fifth in fewest strikeouts.

They're sixth in runs scored.

Not bad, right? Ahh, but look at the power. It's not so good-looking there. Trolley Dodgers are (deep breath please), 14th in slugging, 14th in homers, and 13th in extra base hits.

In doing the quick diagnosis, you might point at ex-Astro second baseman Jeff Kent. Intended to be the core of the LA power game, the Dodgers instead find Kent slugging .290, with count 'em, three extra base hits in 62 at bats.

You might also look at first base. Garciaparra finally played a game at first Saturday night, and it was a good game, but go look at the Dodgers' stats at first base until then. Or don't go look, 'cause I got them right here:

.320 OBP and a .373 SLG
Teams usually try to do better than that from the first base position.

I guess most people when talking about the Dodgers these days will talk about how they're doomed 'cause of the injuries to Gagne and Brazoban.

And that may be so, but so far, you can't really tell. So far, the Dodgers' staff looks OK.

Overall the Dodgers are 5th in OPS allowed; and they're 8th in bullpen OPS allowed. They're third in ERA, and fifth in bullpen ERA. They're seventh in WHIP, and 8th in bullpen WHIP.

So it may all come flying apart for the Dodgers pitching soon, but as of right now I'd say that the biggest priority is getting something anything from their infield.

The outfield seems alright, and kind of dogs ours. Need to get Burke in there. . .

Derek Lowe faced the Astros once during his introductory year in the NL, a 2 - 1 loss to Pettitte last August 26. Derek gave up 7 hits on 2 runs over 8 innings in Los Angeles; the difference in the game occurred in the eighth inning: a rare Craig Biggio road homer.

Pettitte went 8 as well, giving up six hits, and the scruffy Bradley closed things down.

It looks like Lowe also pitched against Houston during the team's interleague swing at Fenway in 2003; it's why Biggio and Berkman have 8 at-bats a piece against him. They've both notched three hits. Ausmus faced him some when Brad was a Tiger; he's a ghastly 1 for 15, but the one hit WAS a double. . . .

I'd imagine after getting Sunday off, Garciaparra will play tonight, and if so, it'll be a nominal plus for the Dodgers. Nomar hits .298 off Pettitte in 47 AB's, with 4 doubles two triples and eight RBI's. Former American Leaguers Jose Cruz Jr., and Kenny Lofton have also faced Andy a good deal, with Cruz actually OPSing 1.096 against him.

Picked a nice and obscure stat today. If I get it right, Marginal Lineup Value Rate is sorta like RC27, except instead of making your lineup with nine of the players, you make the lineup with eight average guys, and then the guy you're looking at. These numbers would be the runs added per game by the addition of these guys into a lineup.

Makes sense, I guess. They've got PMLVr for Positional etc etc, but that's what we do here at Crawfish Boxes anyway, so we didn't need that one.

Anyone with any additional insight is of course invited to weigh in, and yes I'm thinking of you, go . . . . :-)

Marginal Lineup Value Rate
MLVr Dodger Pos Astro MLVr
-.270 Dioner Navarro C1 Brad Ausmus .077 x
x .688 Sandy Alomar C2 Eric Munson -.658
.219 Olmedo Saenz 1B Lance Berkman .551 x
-.201 Jeff Kent 2B Craig Biggio .447 x
-.284 Rafael Furcal SS Adam Everett -.046 x
.400 Bill Mueller 3B Morgan Ensberg 1.124 x
x .431 JD Drew OF1 Jason Lane .028
x .391 Jason Repko OF2 Willy Taveras -.137
x -.023 Jose Cruz Jr. OF3 Preston Wilson -.232
x -.180 Kenny Lofton OF4 Orlando Palmeiro -.931
x -.110 Ramon Martinez Util/PH Chris Burke .774 x

If you believe the sound bytes, Preston will be starting again tonight, this despite the three doubles Burke hit yesterday, and the fact that young Chris is OPSing 1.205. This despite the fact that Burke has as many total bases in his last nine innings than Preston has in his last nine games.

Go to, Phil, drop PW in the five slot. It probably won't matter, if Andy pitches good, and Morgan hits well.

Really. It probably won't.