The Los Angeles Dodgers head to Arizona for game three of the NLDS up 2-0. One big reason for this lead is right fielder Yasiel Puig.
Two wins, nine to go. The Los Angeles Dodgers have surprised many by outslugging the red-hot Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite being the best team in baseball, many outlets such as USA Today stacked the cards against the Dodgers and went with the Wild Card Arizona Diamondbacks.
Going into Chase Field needing just one more win to advance to the NLCS, the Dodgers could not be proving they anymore wrong.
Leading up to the division round the pitching was expected to carry the Dodgers to success. Despite past playoff demons, the deeper pitching staff led by Clayton Kershaw looked to keep the stagnant offense at bay. Los Angeles did have an 11-game losing streak in early September, creating many questions around their bats and all-around play.
Los Angeles could not have done a better job in proving these doubts otherwise. The Dodgers have outscored the Diamondbacks 17 runs to 10 – never pulling their foot off of the gas. A big component of this offensive surge? Yasiel Puig.
While Justin Turner has been one of the most clutch bats in all of baseball, Puig has quietly become the star of the NLDS. From tongue wags to bat flips on singles, Puig has been producing fireworks in these first two contests. Puig is having fun and it is showing.
Batting in the fifth and eighth slot in the lineup, Puig has been producing runs for the Dodgers. In nine at-bats over the two games, Puig has five hits; two of which are extra base hits. Most importantly, Puig has matched his hit count with his RBI count.
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This is huge for the Los Angeles Dodgers as it makes the lineup much deeper than previously imagined. While fans are familiar with the hot bats of Corey Seager, Turner and Cody Bellinger, adding an entire new dynamic only makes those guys that much dangerous.
Whether he is slotted in the fifth spot or the eighth spot, Puig has proven that he can be reliable at the dish. While Puig’s antics certainly have been entertaining, the maturity is certainly there and you can see it in every at-bat. Puig is hitting the pitches he wants to hit and that is making a huge impact.
While he does not make to match this level of production on a nightly basis, a hot Puig will secure the Dodgers spot in the World Series and will make it very hard for them to lose. That extra at-bat, that extra hit, that extra RBI is all huge in the postseason. Deep rosters win championships.
Whether or not Puig can keep up the high level of play is yet to be seen. As of now, though, manager Dave Roberts and hitting coach Turner Ward must be extremely happy with the performance at the plate for Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers will square off against the Diamondbacks on Monday, October 9 at 7:00 p.m. PDT at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.