Despite going 7-3 in their last 10 games, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold just a 2.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standing. The Giants have an identical record in the same 10-game stretch, which has prevented the Dodgers from pulling away.
The Dodgers’ strong play has come in spite of Yasiel Puig continuing to slump. Puig’s batting average has dropped to .290 and he’s just 4-for-26 in September after hitting .216 in August. Manager Don Mattingly has given Puig days off and moved him around the batting order in an effort to alleviate any pressure he may be feeling and help jumpstart his offense.
None of Mattingly’s adjustments have seemed to work and acknowledged he’s considered a change in center field, via Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
Yeah, I think about it,” he said. “You’re always hoping a guy catches fire. You don’t know why a guy gets in an extended slump.”
When asked if the time for a change would come, Mattingly said he’s unsure given the sensitive nature of the situation:
I don’t know how to really answer that, honestly,” Mattingly said. “Guys are going to struggle at different times. Do you stay with them? Do you show confidence? Do you not show confidence? It’s a tough question to answer.”
One issue is the Dodgers don’t have a clear-cut option in center field behind Puig. Matt Kemp was of course the starter early in the season only to be benched. Andre Ethier was then handed the job, but didn’t prove to be an adequate option as time wore on.
There’s Joc Pederson, who has been given more playing time than initially believed, but is still an unproven rookie. Mattingly has publicly continued to express confidence in Puig’s ability to put an end to his struggles, however with only 16 regular season games remaining, Puig will need to quickly find himself.
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