Rejuvenated Yasiel Puig Could Be Key for the Dodgers in Rest of NLCS
Puig was struggling in the series prior to Monday's game, going 0-for-10 with six strikeouts. He then struck out again in his first at-bat before ripping an RBI triple in the fourth off of St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Puig would tack on another single before the night's end, leaving him 2-for-3 with that big RBI on the night.
The key to Puig's success on Monday was a focus on keeping things simple.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles that the reason for Puig's struggles against the St. Louis Cardinals in Games 1 and 2 stemmed from him trying to do too much:
I think [letting his emotions get the better of him] is always the case with Yasiel with any kind of mistakes or his at-bats and stuff.
It is emotional. But the one thing I think we all know with Yasiel is it’s always from trying too hard. It’s never from not trying.
It looks like Puig got the message, and the Dodgers benefited immensely from their revitalized star's big game.
Puig is back! Very calm at the plate and kept it simple as Mattingly adviced.— Mario Epino (@vepino) October 15, 2013
The Dodgers should be ecstatic to see Puig finding his rhythm again, as he has the potential to completely change the series.
After getting the news earlier on Monday that Hanley Ramirez's rib injury was one that will probably not be healed until after the culmination of the series, some other L.A. player has to step up in case Ramirez's ailment causes a drop in his production.
Mattingly: It could take a week or 2 for Hanley's rib fracture to heal.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 14, 2013
This comes on the heels of Andre Ethier's battle with nagging injuries that's only allowed him to start two games this postseason.
The Dodgers need offense, and having Puig get back to his old ways could be huge.
Puig dominated the NLDS, going 8-for-17 in the series and helping the Dodgers top the Atlanta Braves. The Cuban sensation sparked the L.A. offense, scoring in each of the Dodgers' wins in the series.
Mattingly praises Puig for decision-making in NLDS: throwing to the right base, plate discipline, running bases smartly #Dodgers— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 9, 2013
The Dodgers had been shut down by a dominant Cardinals pitching staff in St. Louis, scoring just two runs in the first two games of the series.
Even though L.A. won on Monday, a major reason why they came out on top was because Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a gem, allowing just three hits over seven innings.
The Dodgers are still averaging just 1.7 runs per game this series. The team's offense has been pitiful, but if Puig can continue to hit, and maybe get hot like he did in June when he made his MLB debut, that could be enough for the Dodgers to come back from their deficit in the series.
Puig hit .420 in his first 30 MLB games. During that span he scored 24 runs and smacked seven home runs. If he can get hot again, that type of production might be enough to take the Dodgers to the World Series.
Puig is the X-factor for the Dodgers right now, and having him break out of his slump on Monday could decide who advances to the Fall Classic.
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