An element to the too-great debate over Yasiel Puig is this idea that his flaws – such as missing the cutoff man – will cost the Dodgers a victory.
Putting aside the phony idea that occasional on-field mistakes should negate all the positive Puig brings to Los Angeles, there’s also this:
Hitting or missing the cutoff man is usually presented as a black-and-white tale of good vs. evil, ignoring the fact that sometimes, to throw out a baserunner at home, you are absolutely going to miss the cutoff man.
Saturday, the Dodgers won by one run, a margin arguably carved out by nothing less than Puig missing the cutoff man to nail Rene Rivera trying to score on Andrew Cashner’s two-out, fourth-inning single.
Puig could have easily hit the cutoff man on this play – and the Padres would just as easily taken a two-run lead with their leadoff hitter coming up to bat. Which outcome would you prefer?
Vin Scully sure didn’t seem to mind: “Puig does it again,” he exclaimed. “He just airmails it, a hopper, just to Federowicz, who just plants and makes the tag. Oh, to be 22 and a Dodger – wow!”
The key, obviously, is to know when to go for the play at home and to know when to focus on the trailing baserunner. Guess what: three months into his major-league career, it’s okay that Puig is still learning about how to make this choice with major-league baserunners. It really is.
If his decision-making on throws home is the worst thing you can say about his game between the lines, that is really extraordinary.
On Saturday, Puig went hitless (three times with runners on base) and was caught stealing with a 2-1 count on Adrian Gonzalez, yet made one of the biggest plays of the game. Something to remember the next time he knocks three hits and all anyone wants to talk about is hitting the cutoff man.
* * *
Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
With rosters expanding today, the Dodgers have kicked things off by officially recalling Drew Butera, Stephen Fife, Dee Gordon, Peter Moylan and Scott Van Slyke.
The Dodgers’ 2.07 ERA in August was their lowest in a month since April 1981. The top five:
1.59 September 1965
1.93 April 1981
1.93 September 1976
2.03 September 1966
2.07 August 2013
Los Angeles also had its second-best month by winning percentage.
.850 April 1977
.793 August 2013
.792 July 2013