The Los Angeles Dodgers are 6-4 in their last 10 games, have lost three of the last four and as a result, are in a tight battle for the National League West title.
Collectively, the offense has struggled to produce consistently and in the heart of its troubles is Yasiel Puig. Puig was mired in an 0-for-22 slump and is just 1-for-8 in two games since snapping the streak against the San Diego Padres.
On Monday, manager Don Mattingly dropped Puig to sixth in the batting order in an effort to take pressure off the young outfielder. With the arrival of top prospect Joc Pederson, some may believe it places Puig under additional pressure.
However, Mattingly refuted the notion and said a player is constantly under stress to perform well, via JP Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group:
Honestly, when you play at this level, somebody’s always coming, so you’ve got to fight ‘em all off,” the manager said. “If you’re not doing the job, if there’s not somebody coming from the minor leagues, they’ll be looking for somebody from somewhere else. You’re at the major-league level. It’s performance-oriented. If you’re not getting the job done, they’re looking for somebody.”
Pederson and Puig were teammates at Double-A Chattanooga in 2013 before Puig was promoted and quickly rose to stardom with the Dodgers. Given Mattingly’s comments as to how he plans on utilizing Pederson, it’s unlikely Puig will be unseated as the team’s every day center fielder.
Last season, Puig had his worst batting average in September and into the postseason as he hit just .214. Compounding matters for the Dodgers is Hanley Ramirez has yet to hit well on a consistent basis. With their six-game lead in the NL West standings now down to just two games, the Dodgers will need both sluggers to improve.
After completing a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers will host the Arizona Diamondbacks and pesky San Diego Padres for three-game sets before traveling north to face the San Francisco Giants.
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