One of the major reasons why the Dodgers defeated the Nationals in five games in the NLDS is that everyone on the Dodgers 25 man roster delivered in some way or another.
Andre Ethier hit a clutch single in Game 4, allowing Chase Utley to bat, and drive in Andrew Toles to extend the series. Yasmani Grandal, even though he is being quiet with the bat, has been great as a catcher and threw out Daniel Murphy in a key play for the Dodgers to hold onto game one. Carlos Ruiz and Joc Pederson both hit huge home runs (in Game 3 and Game 5 respectively) in dire moments to keep the Dodgers afloat. Julio Urias came in Game 5 showing no signs of rust (he last played September 29th) and pitched two scoreless innings, and impressively picked off Bryce Harper in the fifth inning.
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Dodgers Bullpen Contribution includes:
- Joe Blanton
- Pedro Baez
- Grant Dayton
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And of course, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen (the Big Four?) are showing the world how much the Dodgers and its fans appreciate them.
Now we are in the NLCS, and the Dodgers are continuing their momentum of team baseball. So far, Adrian Gonzalez is the lead bat this series, hitting an RBI single to tie Game 1 at three apiece, and providing the only run on Sunday night with a solo homerun to help win Game 2.
Everything feels like its coming together (knock on wood) but there is one exception that I’d like to point out. And that is Yasiel Puig, the one Dodger that is still waiting to break out.
There is no doubt that Puig deserves a roster spot. He is an above average fielder with an arm that make opposing base runners think twice. He is also is right handed, which is a premium for the Dodgers left handed dominant roster. Also, Josh Reddick, who has been getting on base this postseason, still struggles against left-handed pitchers. Frankly, Dave Roberts knows this and doesn’t play Reddick against lefties. So, Yasiel Puig has a need for this team. We’re just waiting on him to deliver.
Puig’s postseason career
Puig isn’t a stranger to postseason success. He was great in 2013 against the Braves and Cardinals, batting .471 and .250 respectively. He was ok in 2014 against the Cardinals, batting .250, and did not register a hit in last year’s playoffs. He’s been around the block.
The problem with Puig is simple. He is a different hitter when he is faced with a two-strike count.
When Puig faces 0-2, he averages .094. When he faced 1-2, he averages .109. When he has a 3-2 count, Puig is .185. You get the picture. There isn’t really a solution to this problem except to be aware of it and be vigilant to not swing at bad balls with a two-strike count. To me, Puig seems to get desperate and overreaches on pitches he doesn’t need to go after.
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Maybe this week Puig pinch hits for Reddick and hits a home run just like Ruiz, revitalizing the Dodger crowd and the team. Maybe Puig throws a dart to third base and guns out Javier Baez trying to stretch a double into a triple.
The Cubs have a deep roster but the Dodgers have a deeper one. It’s going to take everything to beat the Cubs, and Yasiel Puig needs to prove the doubters wrong, just like the rest of his teammates are so far doing.