One explanation for the drop in production could be a simple regression to the mean, but there’s also an elephant in the room that hasn’t exactly been addressed. Puig suffered a hip flexor injury on an slide while attempting to break up a double play June 7.
Puig was removed from the game in the fifth inning and didn’t play the following day. He returned to the lineup June 9 and hasn’t missed a game since, despite suffering another hip injury — a left hip muscle strain on June 20.
The Dodgers have given little reassurance Puig can continue playing without his hip becoming a severe issue and the right fielder has admitted he’ll likely need to play with the discomfort moving forward. To which, he said he’s willing to do.
Puig’s drive to play is what you want to see from one of the franchise’s cornerstones. However, it can just as easily deliver a crushing blow.
Both the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants lost Monday, which leaves the Dodgers trailing the Giants by four games in the NL West standings. By no means is it an insurmountable deficit to overcome, but without Puig, it might be.
The Giants are 3-7 in their last 10 games, while the Dodgers are 7-3. Unless the Dodgers reach the point of clinching the division with meaningless games to play as the regular season winds down, they likely won’t come across the right time to rest Puig.
Keeping the value Puig brings to the lineup on a daily basis in mind, now is when the Dodgers should rest their gimpy right fielder.
Dating back to the first injury on June 7, Puig is hitting .218 and is 0-for-10 with two strikeouts and two walks in the Dodgers’ last three games. Draw from that what you will.
In an already injury-stricken outfield, losing Puig in the immediate future would leave the Dodgers with just three healthy and experienced outfielders.
While an important factor, that pales in comparison to the amount of productivity that would suddenly be removed from the lineup for a potentially lengthy period of time.
Puig leads the team in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and is second to only Adrian Gonzalez in both home runs and RBIs.
The Dodgers are neither going to win the division in June, nor lose it. However, not having a healthy Puig down the stretch of the season could cost them. Particularly if Gonzalez or Ramirez are unable to replicate last season’s success.
Resting Puig for a handful of games, perhaps a week, comes with the risk that the Dodgers could fall further behind the Giants. But, given the state their rival has been stuck in, the Dodgers may also manage to keep pace and get a rejuvenated Puig for a final push.
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