The Dodgers lost to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants 2-1 on Saturday evening. The day after the Dodgers clinched their fifth consecutive NL West title meant that the game wasn’t going to have any kind of bearing on the division race. Ultimately it was a meaningless game for the Dodgers in that regard.
The game ended on a bizarre play. In the bottom of the ninth inning and chase Utley at the plate, the Dodgers had Yasiel Puig standing at first base. With two outs Puig attempted to steal second base. As he approached the bag he awkwardly went in standing up and was tagged out to end the game. Somehow Puig tweaked his ankle a bit but was ok.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated that he didn’t miss a sign but made the decision to swipe the bag on his own. No doubt it was a risky stupid play. You never want to make the last out of the game on the basepaths when you represent the tying run with your team down by a run. That’s just common sense. Baseball common sense.
Roberts apparently tried to send a message by benching Puig in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants. Puig did not appear in the game as the Dodgers won 3-1. Puig was supposed to be in the lineup on Monday evening in the series opener against the Padres, but when the lineups were released he was once again not in it. According to reports he was late to some kind of team activity and because of that Roberts scratched him from the lineup.
I can certainly understand giving Puig a breather during these last few games of the regular season with the NL West already clinched. However it doesn’t make much sense to go any further with this. Puig is undoubtedly having an all-around solid season. He’s slashing .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 runs batted in and an .814 OPS in 554 plate appearances. Puig has been a rock for the Dodgers this season and has played gold glove caliber defense in right field with his usual cannon throwing arm. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been good. The Dodgers are going to need Puig if they are going to get through the postseason and get into the World Series.
I don’t know what kind of activity he was late to. Maybe it was batting practice, or perhaps it was pre-game stretching. I don’t know if Puig has had an attitude or maybe Roberts is still frustrated with him for trying to steal second base without permission in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday night. I’m not in the clubhouse so I can’t say. What I do know is that he among the other regulars needs to get reps in before the playoffs begin and benching him does nothing good for the team.
The Dodgers are still in a tight race for home field advantage so there is still something to play for during these final six games of the regular season. At this point the needs of the team are more important that the needs of the few, or the one. Benching Puig only hurts the team and also hurts Puig’s ability to prepare for the postseason.
I can understand Roberts wants to send a message to Puig who has been one of the most polarizing Dodgers over the last few years. Puig has definitely had his clubhouse and off the field issues to fill a book. This year he’s been quiet and good. I just don’t see the reason to continue this “punishment” any further. When Puig sits, the Dodgers are the ones who are punished. Just put Puig back in the lineup and get on with it.
Or should I say, get over it.