Don Mattingly talks about decision to drop Dee Gordon into the ninth spot in lineup
Don Mattingly has turned his lineup upside down. Well, not entirely.
But the Miami manager dropped Dee Gordon from the leadoff position to the bottom spot in an effort to kick-start the Marlins’ offense.
Starting pitcher Dan Straily will hit 8th on Tuesday, one spot ahead of Gordon. Straily will join Dontrelle Willis and David Phelps as the only pitchers in Marlins history to bat in any spot other than 9th.
“We’ve been thinking about it for five or six days,” Mattingly said. “I haven’t been a huge advocate of the pitcher at 8th.”
Mattingly moved J.T. Realmuto into the leadoff spot with Christian Yelich batting second and Marcell Ozuna third.
But Mattingly said the lineup change made sense on a variety of fronts. With Realmuto moving into the leadoff spot, he brings a higher on-base percentage (.360) than Gordon (.316).
“It gets you J.T. the extra at bat,” Mattingly said of the catcher, who is hitting .317. “If the game’s on the line or it’s a 1-run game, I’ve got a guy up there who can hit a ball in the seats, and the guy’s been swinging the bat good, for the most part, all year long.”
Mattingly said having Gordon bat ninth is like having an extra leadoff hitter when the lineup turns around.
“We just felt like this gives us a little bit more of an American League lineup,” Mattingly said. “A lot of times you’ll see a leadoff guy hitting ninth over there. (So) with Yelich at No. 2, it really puts Dee back into a leadoff role and Yeli ends up really being a No. 3 guy, where I like him. And it also pushes Marcell up and gives him extra at bats.”
Ozuna is hitting .325 with 11 homers after hitting two out Monday.
Gordon said he was fine with the lineup drop.
“I want W’s and me hitting leadoff isn’t doing it,” said Gordon, who was the National League batting champion in 2015 but has been slow to return to that production level offensively. “Whatever it takes for us to get wins, I’m down for it. That’s all I care about is winning. I’m one of the leaders, so that’s what I’ve got to do as a leader.”
Former Marlins manager Jack McKeon had Willis batting in the No. 8 spot four times during the 2005 season. But Willis was a good-hitting pitcher.
And former Marlins manager Dan Jennings once had Phelps bat at No. 8, one spot ahead of Jhonatan Solano.
Tonight’s Marlins lineup
1. J.T. Realmuto
2. Christian Yelich
3. Marcell Ozuna
4. Giancarlo Stanton
5. Derek Dietrich
6. Justin Bour
7. Adeiny Hechavarria
8. Dan Straily
9. Dee Gordon