Giants keep Gillaspie at third for NLDS opener

Hernandez gets nod for Span in center field against Cubs

Giants keep Gillaspie at third for NLDS opener

CHICAGO -- Conor Gillaspie remained at third base in the Giants' starting lineup for Friday's National League Division Series opener against the Cubs.

This might not seem like monumental news, particularly given Gillaspie's homer that accounted for all of the scoring in Wednesday's Wild Card Game at New York.

Except that, somewhere in the infield, manager Bruce Bochy knew he would be forced to abandon the time-honored platooning strategy, since he had only one right-handed-hitting middle infielder available -- Kelby Tomlinson -- to use against Chicago lefty Jon Lester.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 CHC 1, SF 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 8 CHC 5, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 SF 6, CHC, 5 (13) video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 CHC 6, SF 5 video

Bochy decided to start Gillaspie while benching lefty-hitting second baseman Joe Panik in favor of Tomlinson. Another option would have been to sit Gillaspie, while starting Panik at second base and Tomlinson at third.

Panik (.226) and Gillaspie (.227) compiled virtually similar regular-season batting averages against lefties. Tomlinson, by contrast, hit .306 off lefties.

Bochy acknowledged that Lester was equally effective against right-handers, who hit .214 off him, and lefties, who batted an even .200 against him.

Bochy did opt for the percentages in starting right-handed-hitting Gorkys Hernandez in center field, despite left-handed Denard Span's .286 career average (8-for-28) against Lester. Bochy pointed out that Hernandez started last weekend against Dodgers lefties Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw. The Giants won both games on their way to sweeping the three-game series.

"'D' and Joe will both be ready coming off the bench," Bochy said. "I didn't want to stack the lineup with lefties; not that there's a significant split between lefties and righties against Lester. So I'm just sticking with what's worked here recently."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.