Chase Utley has been suspended for two games by MLB, but that doesn’t mean he won’t see the field in Game 3 of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. The veteran second baseman will appeal his suspension, leaving open the possibility of him playing on Monday night at Citi Field.
Utley’s hard slide into second base in Game 2 was ruled legal on Saturday night, but MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre decided the play that left Ruben Tejada with a fractured right fibula warranted discipline. Utley’s appeal reportedly won’t be heard on Monday, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has the option of putting Utley in the Game 3 lineup.
Second source saying Utley appeal unlikely to be heard today. Sounds like he indeed will be available for #Dodgers tonight.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 12, 2015
Utley didn’t start in either of the first two contests of the series, coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter in both Game 1 and Game 2. But he could get the nod over Howie Kendrick, who started at second base in both contests in Los Angeles.
The left-handed Utley has had success against Mets starter Matt Harvey, who will start in Game 3. He’s six-for-18 with a home run against Harvey, while Kendrick has just one hit in six at-bats. Harvey has been much tougher against right-handers this season, surrendering a .544 OPS to players that bat on the same side of the plate as Kendrick. Left-handers have a .676 OPS against Harvey in 2015.
@Morello24 He has much better numbers v. Harvey than Kendrick and Mattingly left it opened yesterday that he would start Utley.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 12, 2015
Since the Mets and Dodgers split the first two games of the series in Los Angeles, the winner of Game 3 will have a decided advantage in trying to reach the NL Championship Series. But Utley’s involvement in the game will draw even more attention to the contest, considering the amount of controversy that surrounded Game 2, Utley’s slide, and his subsequent suspension.
There’s been a lot of debate surrounding the play, and whether or not the slide was “dirty.” MLB has seemingly admitted that the play was out of bounds with their decision to suspend Utley. But there is no precedent for such a suspension, which provides Utley a chance to win the appeal and not miss any time at all.
It is not wrong in admonishing Utley’s slide. Where MLB erred is meting out discipline on something with no past precedence. That is wrong.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 12, 2015
If Utley does step into the batter’s box on Monday, he could be the victim of retaliation, which Harvey seemed to indicate at a press conference on Sunday.