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Yasiel Puig has come up small for the Dodgers in the NLCS

Oct 12, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two Getty Images

Cuban superstar Yasiel Puig is the reason why the Dodgers are in the NLCS. The day before he made his Major League debut on June 3, the Dodgers were 23-32 in last place in the NL West. From Puig’s debut through the end of the regular season, they went 69-38 (.645) to win the NL West by a cool 11 games. Puig finished with a .925 OPS.

To criticize Puig when he has already done so much for the Dodgers and when he is surrounded by so many other capable players would normally be unfair, but such is life when you create such lofty expectations for yourself. Puig has shown himself to be the catalyst of the Dodgers, but he has been anything but thus far in the NLCS. In Game 1, he went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts, leaving a boatload of runners on base:

  • First inning: With runners on second and third and two outs, Puig struck out to end the inning. (2 runners left on base)
  • Third inning: With the bases loaded and one out, Puig hit a ground ball back to the pitcher, who got the force out at home. (3 LOB)
  • Fifth inning: With a runner on first base and two outs, Puig popped out weakly to third base to end the inning. (1 LOB)
  • Eighth inning: With a runner on first base and no outs, Puig grounded out to shortstop for a fielder’s choice. (1 LOB)
  • Eleventh inning: Puig struck out looking to lead off the inning.
  • Thirteenth inning: Puig flied out to right field to lead off the inning.

Game 2:

  • First inning: With a runner on second base and two outs, Puig struck out swinging to end the inning. (1 LOB)
  • Fourth inning: With the bases empty and two outs, Puig struck out swinging to end the inning.
  • Sixth inning: With the bases loaded and one out, Puig struck out swinging. (3 LOB)
  • Ninth inning: Puig struck out looking to lead off the inning.

For those of you counting, Puig is 0-for-10 with six strikeouts and 11 runners left on base. He is certainly not the only culprit for the Dodgers’ NLCS woes, but he has been a big part of it by coming up small in every situation he has been placed into thus far. If the Dodgers are to stage a comeback within the next five games against the Cardinals, they will need Puig to pick up the slack, and fast.

  1. paperlions - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Today, the Dodger’s 3-5 hitters were 0-11 with nine Ks and an intentional walk. Combined, they put the ball in play twice today.

    • alexo0 - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      Agreed. This isn’t Puig’s fault. The entire terrible Dodgers offense is choking and coming up small. You can pick on all their hitters. Why Bill Bear has a hardon against Puig is anyone’s guess.

      And I love that the story is not St. Louis winning, but the Dodgers losing, because that is exactly how it is. If the Dodgers could hit at all, this series would be 2-0 going the other way.

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        So….you think when the Cardinals don’t hit is because the Dodgers’ pitchers are great, but when the Dodgers’ don’t hit it is because they suck?

      • alexo0 - Oct 13, 2013 at 3:47 AM

        If the Cards were capable of winning a game vs the Dodgers aces by more than one run, I’d agree with you. But the story of the series so far is the Dodger’s anemic offense and/or the Cards awesome pitching. The Cards offense simply does enough to get by.

      • blacksables - Oct 13, 2013 at 6:50 AM

        The Cardinals lead the league in runs, by almost half a run per game.

        If that’s getting by, you obviously don’t know anything about baseball.

        Seriously, there needs to be a baseball knowledge test for people before they can comment.

      • alexo0 - Oct 13, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        Yes, they were awesome during the season. I’m talking this particular series.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        “And I love that the story is not St. Louis winning, but the Dodgers losing, because that is exactly how it is.”

        That’s choice stuff right there Alex. I am talking Grade ‘A’ stuff.
        What happened (is happening)…is you are running into a buzz saw of Cardinals pitchers.
        And your comment about the Cardinals offense says it best. Good teams find a way.
        They. Find. A. Way.

        And for what’s it’s worth…I expect the Dodgers to ultimately find a way to pick up a couple wins. But your comment is a slap in the face. You can do better.

    • mkprz - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      It’s poor coaching.
      Poor decision making.
      Talent improperly directed is bad coaching.
      It’s like bad generals lead good soldiers into doom.

  2. thebadguyswon - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    They struck out 13 times in 30 at bats. That is horrible. And Puig is clearly pressing.

    • 78mu - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      Puig is only 22. But explain how an experienced Adrian G. is so horrible? Between Young and Gonzo you have tons of experience and zero production.

      • moogro - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:40 PM

        Don’t even bring The Professional Hitter into this.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        What are you talking about? Michael Young is doing exactly what we expected him to do; hit into double plays.

  3. skerney - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Puig was stepping out of the box and hopping up and down. WTF?

  4. moogro - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Wow, he looks lost. He clearly knows he has to change his approach but he just can’t do it. He needs to do try an at-bat forcing a closed stance and a lower bat, if not a choke up. If he continues to stand tall and wide, he’s doomed.

    • blacksables - Oct 13, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      No, he needs to keep the same batting stance that made him successful this year. His stance has nothing to do with it.

      What he needs to do is calm down and stop trying to hit every pitch in the gap, and not be afraid to take a walk.

      • moogro - Oct 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Successful against lesser pitching and way less gameplan scrutiny. They’ve got his number.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Nailed in Sables. I would add…dude needs to quit swinging out of cleats every damn AB as well. This isn’t the HR derby.

  5. apkyletexas - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    These Cards pitchers destroyed the top of the Pittsburgh lineup. Walker and Marte went a combined 1-31 for the series. The Cards figure out what pitches you can’t hit, and demolish you with them.

    If I were Mattingly, I would grab all my hitters and tell them to shorten their swings and play some small-ball for a game or two. You can hold these Cards to 2 or 3 runs per game, and if you are patient and willing to foul off a few pitches, you can draw walks. Use some singles, walks, bunts, sac flies, and stolen bases to squeak out a few runs, and you might be able to turn this series upside down.

    • 78mu - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      Kind of late now to turn Gonzalez, Puig, Uribe or Ramirez into Juan Pierres. If they have to turn into butcher boys the Dodgers are really in trouble.

      • apkyletexas - Oct 12, 2013 at 9:51 PM

        What choices do they have? They didn’t beat Kelly, who they absolutely had to beat. They didn’t win Kershaw’s start, which they absolutely had to do. Now they are going to have to face Wainright twice and Wacha one more time probably. Looking pretty freaking bleak from where I’m sitting. Better change something or it will be over fast.

  6. spyder9669 - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Good pitching beats good hitting Every. Single. Time. Barry Bonds would be the only exception i’ve ever seen.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      You never saw the 1976 Big Red Machine, either,

    • mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      Good hitting hits good pitching.
      Problem is, there’s no good hitting.
      Good scouting helps good pitching.
      Predictable, batting coach loses to good scouting/pitching.
      Even my 16 year-old daughter caught it.
      Dodgers script:
      Take first pitch. Opposing team knows this, so they throw a strike, always!
      Foul off second pitch. Dodgers batters always start 0-2.
      Then use three pitches to work around the batter, by pitching low or outside to bait the batter.
      Never fails.
      Taking the first pitch is a superstition founded in Little League.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        “Taking the first pitch is a superstition founded in Little League.”

        Yes…and Ted Williams. And a slew of other wonderful hitters throughout the game of baseball.

  7. sgtr0c - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Teams that are great in the regular season cannot just switch to a different type of game (powerhouse to smallball). They are what they are. The Card’s are set up ( from management) to muck and grind, it is their game. I do not like St Louis, but they will always win in the playoffs until other teams realize that the farm system is what builds team continuity. Hopefully the Bucco’s beat them next year ( haveing playoff exp), the rest of the teams better catch up! Go Phillies! (please RAJ, read this post).

  8. wizard16 - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    AlexoO,
    You’re in denial. The story is about the Dodgers chocking against ROOKIE pitchers. If the Cardinals were hitting it would be 2-0…Oh sorry it is 2-0 and we didn’t hit either.

    • alexo0 - Oct 13, 2013 at 3:50 AM

      Ha, I know, both teams have become useless with a bat.

    • mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      I love my Dodgers, but wizard16 is right on the nose.
      Better luck next year…with a different batting coach.

      • mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        The Cardinals are hungry and you see it.
        Ramirez out because his ribs hurt?
        Dude, this is the end of your season.
        Play through it.
        Take Tylenol. Aspirin. Man up brother!
        Somebody get this Ramirez guy a one of the veterans they salute every game at Dodger Stadium and teach him about fighting through it.

  9. txnative61 - Oct 12, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Carlos Beltran and David Freeze are the only hitters making a mark in the series so far. Rookie hitters like Puig with limited experience against the top pitchers in the league will usually struggle more than veteran elite hitters, who might catch a rare mistake now and then, or work a favorable count. Cards rookie pitchers might later get rattled a bit easier if they get knocked around a bit. I’d expect more from the Dodger vets than Puig.

    • blacksables - Oct 13, 2013 at 6:57 AM

      Willie McGee disagrees with you.

  10. kingscourt25 - Oct 12, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Let’s be real, the Cardinals aren’t really hitting either. They produced 3 runs in two games compared to 2 runs by the Dodgers.

    • emykk - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:28 PM

      Yeah, but the story here is that the Dodgers aren’t hitting against our rookies. The Cards didn’t hit well against the Dodgers aces. There is a difference, and the fact is that the Cards at least hit well enough to win the first two games against the Dodgers’ best pitchers. Everyone is pretty much just butthurt that their predictions about the Cards losing it because of the pitching match ups were wrong. I don’t understand why everyone thought this was going to be an easy win for the Dodgers, anyway. The Cardinals finished first in the NL, tied for first in the entire MLB, and all of that with being in the toughest division in the Central. The Pirates were a better team than the Dodgers, and we managed to beat them, so why all the doubt?

      • kingscourt25 - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:51 PM

        Joe Kelly was pretty lucky the 1st game. Got in and out of james, but I guess that’s his game. Wacha was a different story, I’ll give you that.

        I wouldn’t call this series over. The Dodgers definitely have the pitching to turn things around. The series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      Absolutely King. I couldn’t agree more. However, those three runs are enough to have the Cardinals up 2 – 0. It’s been a nail-biter the whole time. I fully expect more of the same.

  11. thevauntedchris - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    lol at people reacting to a sample size of a whole series…much less the first 2 games. This is baseball. See the Yankees with Detroit last year. It happens. And that’s why, in my own personal opinion, winning the regular season in your league should hold more weight then winning the playoffs. I understand that may not be the popular opinion…since alot of people need to believe in being “clutch”…. And apparently luck plays very little part in one game playoffs and 5/7 game series.

    So the Dodgers just went from being awesome in most of the regular season and the first round to being what….unable to hit? not a Dodgers fan by the way

    • louhudson23 - Oct 13, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      I think the regular season has been devalued by the steady addition of more teams to the “playoffs” ,(and they certainly aren’t done adding them)…..but I do love a seven game series because the spreadsheet jockey/junkies are silent and the game and game play become the “thing” as it is who comes through in the “clutch”…love to see all the great pitching and the hitters struggling as they should….only makes those who succeed all the more noteworthy…as well as defense and proper game play playing key roles in these tight”no tomorrow”games….( I love quotation marks almost as much as I love parentheses)Puig is a talented rookie overwhelmed by the strength of good pitching and excellent scouting….a club which has many members this time of year…..

  12. thebestfaninbaseball - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    They should have just put Justin Bieber on the roster. This is your world, Dodger fans.

    • moogro - Oct 13, 2013 at 12:55 AM

      You made mu dummer. I hate you.

  13. yahmule - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    When I saw Hanley was sitting today, I thought a shutout was a distinct possibility.

  14. MyTeamsAllStink - Oct 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Sammy Sosa 2.0 all or nothing slugger who chases the high fastball.

  15. mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Ellis opens with a triple.
    If you can’t score that, how do you expect to win?
    Mattingly is out coached.
    When the announcers question your move and predicts what will happen, right off the bat, there is a problem.
    Gonzalez is taken out for a pinch runner.
    Runner is sacrificed to second.
    Ramirez batting next is an automatic walk.
    The next guy is an auto out.
    Who do the Dodgers bring in, Young?

  16. mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Piug woud have caught the fly ball that Either missed.
    He may be a ball hog, but her would have got it.
    Ethier has been out of baseball for a month and his first game back, his first play almost, is that deep fly to right-center.
    Puig should have taken that fly.
    Ethier has no place in the game.
    He’s hurt. Get him out!

  17. mkprz - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    First thing Puig need is humility.
    The Dodgers need to lose to learn that.

  18. mkprz - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    Adrian Gonzalez 22,000,000
    Zack Greinke 21,000,000
    Carl Crawford 21,000,000 Show me some talent, besides the homers against Atlanta.
    Michael Young 18,000,000 Serious?
    Hanley Ramirez 15,000,000 Man-up. It’s the playoffs and our money
    Andre Ethier 13,500,000 Always hurt. Time to go.
    Clayton Kershaw 11,700,000
    Ricky Nolasco 11,500,000 Who?
    Juan Uribe 7,300,000
    Chorus Capuano 6,300,000
    Mark Ellis 5,250,000
    Hyun-Jin Ryu 3,333,333 Refund
    JP Howell 2,850,000

  19. mkprz - Oct 20, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Puig blew the game?
    Thar’s funny, I thought nine guys couldn’t score?
    I never knew Puig batted 27 times…hmm?

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