Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Yasiel Puig (Page 1 of 15)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the Dodgers be holding a 2-1 NLCS lead

sunset-overhead

By Jon Weisman

Pitchers paint on the edge of a cliff. They are artists, tending to a tiny canvas that hovers in mid-air, and they are adventurers who might fall at any moment.

Rich Hill took a minor masterpiece into the sixth inning tonight at Dodger Stadium. After walking two of three batters with some tremulous brush work to start the top of the second, Hill was in his element. Twelve of the next 13 batters he faced became dots on his Seuratian landscape.

In the top of the sixth, the ground beneath Hill’s easel began to quiver. With one out, Kris Bryant singled to left center, for the second hit off the Dodger left-hander. With two out, Anthony Rizzo took the first four pitches, and three fell outside the borders of the strike zone. On deck was Javy Baez, whose electric play helped the Cubs win Game 1 of the National League Championship Series and nearly Game 2 as well.

Hill raised his arm and lofted the next pitch, a 74 mile-per-hour curveball that sidled through the California air with the arc of a rainbow, landing into the glove of Yasmani Grandal for strike two.

Then, at 87 mph, Hill dropped down with a master’s flourish.

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Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (Top: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (Top: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Hill pumped his fist, shouted to the heavens and handed his work to the gallery, for 54,269 art-lovers at Dodger Stadium to marvel.

The 36-year-old’s six innings of two-hit shutout ball, his finest performance since he threw seven perfect innings at Miami on September 10, were framed by Grandal, the catcher who also hit a two-run home run off Jake Arrieta in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory.

Taking a 2-1 lead in the NLCS, the Dodgers are as close to the World Series as they have been in 28 years.

Hill struck out six, giving him 19 in 13 postseason innings (13.2 strikeouts per nine innings) with a 3.46 ERA. With Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finishing the game, the Dodgers have thrown consecutive postseason shutouts for the first time in franchise history.

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Several sizzled in September for Dodgers

Dodgers at Giants, 1:05 p.m.
Kershaw CCLXIII: Kershawcadia
Howie Kendrick, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Though the 2016 regular season isn’t officially over, the month of September is, a month in which several Dodger bats delivered.

Joc Pederson led the National League in slugging percentage (.702) last month and finished second in OPS (1.154) and fourth in on-base percentage (.452). Pederson led the Dodgers with seven homers and 15 walks.

Over to Pederson’s left — in right field — were two strong hitters. Josh Reddick rallied from a dismal August to tie for the NL lead in batting average (.400), alongside a .435 OBP and .569 slugging percentage. Reddick was due, to say the least — his batting average on balls in play went from .194 in August to .429 in September.

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Puig, Dodgers grieve over José Fernández

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

A number of Dodgers had personal connections with José Fernández, such as Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher and Kiké Hernández, who all played in the Marlins organization with the All-Star right-hander.

But perhaps no one in Los Angeles was closer to the Miami All-Star, who died overnight in a boating accident, than Yasiel Puig.

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It’s vintage Puig in Dodgers’ romp over Giants

puig-swing

By Jon Weisman

As the catch was made, as the third out was recorded, as the crowd roared, as the legendary announcer uttered one more “¡Que viva Cuba!” at his final Dodgers-Giants game in Los Angeles, the outfielder’s teammates gathered in a handful near the third-base line, unwilling to wait for the prodigal son to return to the dugout.

They needed to see him there, then, on the field, in the moment.

Yasiel Puig, baseball’s living, breathing roller coaster, had done the full loop.

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Go ahead and look: Dodger rally stuns Giants in ninth

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kershaw-verticalBy Jon Weisman

After the Giants’ starter told the Dodger outfielder not to look at him, the Giants’ relievers only made him want to look away.

Trailing 1-0 in the ninth inning, the Dodgers rallied against the beleaguered San Francisco bullpen, parlaying three singles and a walkoff Adrian Gonzalez double into a 2-1 victory that put them a season-high six games up on the Giants with 12 to play. Magic number: seven.

A seventh-inning brouhaha (minus the haha) between Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig on the edge of the first-base line added another layer of intensity to the Dodger-Giant rivalry, a prelude to a victory almost as cathartic as it was important.

San Francisco had one base hit that went past the infield tonight in Los Angeles, and it had nothing to do with the outcome.

Instead, what happened within the infield made the difference for 8 1/2 innings.

Taking the equivalent of a Big Wheel ride around the bases, the Giants motored their only run on an infield single, stolen base, error and wild pitch.

With two out, Eduardo Nunez hit the equivalent of an errant miniature-golf tee shot to Kershaw’s left. Three starts into his return from a disk herniation, Kershaw lunged but couldn’t reach it. Chase Utley charged to glove it, but couldn’t get a desperate throw to first in time, despite Nunez’s head-first, dirt-burst slide.

With two out and two strikes on Angel Pagan, after nearly being picked off by Kershaw, Nunez took off for second. Yasmani Grandal’s throw sliced like a screwball, out of Utley’s reach at second, allowing Nunez to slide in safely and then scamper to third.

One foul ball later, Kershaw bounced a slider in the dirt in front of home plate and through Grandal, and for the low, low investment of that 60-foot single, Nunez had earned 360 feet of bases and the shutout-breaking run.

That unearned run was the only mole on the Kershaw visage in his six innings. With the Dodgers trailing 1-0, he left for a pinch-hitter, having allowed three hits and a walk (his 10th of the season, compared with seven strikeouts on the night and 162 strikeouts in 2016).

But the Dodgers couldn’t make half the dent in Bumgarner that he made in them. Only Yasiel Puig had a hit against the Giants’ lefty, though Grandal and pinch-hitter Rob Segedin were hit by pitches.

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puigThe biggest noise came at the end of the seventh, when Puig hit a cue shot near the first-base line that Bumgarner turned into the final out of the inning. Reflexively, after yelling “Expletive yeah!” when the out was made, Bumgarner was angry at Puig,

“Don’t look at me,” Bumgarner said while looking directly at Puig, winning the approval of the Irony Committee. Benches cleared, but little came of it.

Except Bumgarner didn’t throw another pitch. Though he has crossed 100 pitches in his past four starts, Bruce Bochy decided that 97 of them to 24 batters with 10 strikeouts was enough for Bumgarner tonight, using a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth and turning the game over to what has become a notorious bullpen.

With two out in the bottom of the eighth, pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz got the Dodgers’ second hit, but nothing came of it after Derek Law retired Howie Kendrick on a fly to right.

In the bottom of the ninth, magic pixie dream hitter Andrew Toles came off the bench and singled sharply to right.

Javier Lopez replaced Law. Corey Seager, one strike away from his fourth whiff of the game, drilled a grounder past a diving Joe Panik for another single, pushing Toles within 90 feet of tying the game.

Hunter Strickland replaced Lopez. Justin Turner, also with two strikes against him, shot a third straight Dodger single to right, scoring Toles.

Gonzalez came up, and he rocked a ball to the wall in right center. Tagging up for a potential catch, Seager shifted into forward gear when right fielder Hunter Pence came up empty, and roared around the bases for the winning run and the biggest celebration at Dodger Stadium this year.

A Hill of beans in this crazy world

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Dodgers at Marlins, 10:10 a.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Corey Seager, SS
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Andre Ethier, LF
Howie Kendrick, 3B
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

I guess my wife and I picked the wrong day to take the family to Disneyland.

Exactly 51 years and one day after Sandy Koufax threw the last perfect game by a Dodger pitcher, Rich Hill nearly did the same (in a 5-0 Dodger victory). And in the process, he became the first Dodger pitcher since Hiroki Kuroda in 2008 to throw seven perfect innings — and the first ever to do so without facing another batter.

The controversy arose from the latter fact. In the overnight chatter since Hill was removed, many have had a chance to weigh in, and so with the Dodgers’ next game already about to start, I’m just going to highlight a few points …

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Dodgers sweep Arizona — rook, line and sinker

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By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers are on a little streak of happy starting pitching, at least by 2016 standards. For the 14th time in their past 15 games, their opening hurler reached the five-inning checkpoint — not Koufaxian by any means, but the majority of the game nonetheless.

This is happening while the franchise currently employs 14 relievers — no, that’s no lie — on its active roster. So with an off day beckoning in a close game, Dave Roberts played himself some cards.

The Dodgers used six relievers to handle the sixth through eighth innings, before Kenley Jansen closed the ninth for a 3-1 victory and series sweep over Arizona.

Los Angeles fared far better than San Francisco, which employed eight relievers tonight at Colorado and still blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth, to fall a season-high five games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

Following fellow freshmen Jose De Leon, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling, right-hander Brock Stewart gave the Dodgers four consecutive victories by rookie starting pitchers, unprecedented in Dodger history.

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Debuting De León delights for Dodgers

Jose De Leon

RooksBy Jon Weisman

After his first big-league game, Jose De León has a 6.00 ERA, a number that doesn’t come close to reflecting how good he looked Sunday.

De León, who struck out 33 with no walks in his final three minor-league games this year, became the first Dodger pitcher ever to strike out nine and walk none in his MLB debut, a 7-4 victory over San Diego.

The 24-year-old, who became the first ever to wear No. 87 for the Dodgers, had the most strikeouts in a big-league initiation for the Dodgers since Kaz Ishii in 2002.

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Dodgers recall Puig, Barnes and Fields, activate Coleman and Ravin

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig will be back in the Majors for the Dodgers’ September stretch run, joined by catcher-infielder Austin Barnes and pitchers Louis Coleman, Josh Fields and Josh Ravin.

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Julio Urías, P

Since he was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on August 2, Puig played in 24 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City, with a .422 on-base percentage, .605 slugging percentage, five homers and nine walks against 11 strikeouts.

“For us, Yasiel’s done everything that was asked of him,” Dave Roberts said today in an interview with MLB Network about Puig, who will start tonight. “As we talked through things, we felt ultimately that he makes us better, with him keeping his end of the deal. It’s all about Yasiel becoming a better person, a better teammate, but also helping the Dodgers with baseball games.”

Said Puig to reporters this afternoon: “I earned the demotion to Triple-A. I feel that I’m now a better person, and I’m here to show it.”

Puig has a .320 on-base percentage, .386 slugging percentage and .706 OPS this season for the Dodgers. Between his return from the disabled list and his trip to the minors, he had a .390 OBP while slugging .440.

He joins a Dodger outfield that has Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson, Josh Reddick, Andrew Toles, Kiké Hernandez and (though mainly an infielder) Rob Segedin.

Andre Ethier, who has played three nights in a row in rehab games with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (including seven innings in right field Thursday), might not be far behind.

The 26-year-old Barnes wraps up his second season in Oklahoma City with a .380 on-base percentage, .443 slugging percentage and 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts, along with 43 walks against 53 strikeouts. In brief action with the Dodger this year, Barnes is 3 for 23 with three walks and a double.

Coleman pitched four shutout innings in rehab outings from August 22-30, allowing five hits while walking none and striking out six. With the Dodgers, he has a 3.70 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 37 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings. He had made six straight scoreless appearances before going on the disabled list August 3 with right shoulder fatigue.

Fields has pitched two innings for Oklahoma City since he was optioned August 23. He had allowed five earned runs and 18 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings as a Dodger since his August 1 acquisition from Houston.

Placed on the disabled list August 15 with right triceps inflammation, Ravin pitched in one rehab inning August 30 for Rancho Cucamonga, allowing a hit and a run with a strikeout. He has two shutout innings with the Dodgers this year.

Luis Avilan, a winning pitcher Wednesday thanks to Toles’ grand-slam heroics, was only temporarily on the team as the 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader, and officially returned to Triple-A today. Because he was optioned August 25, he isn’t eligible for a permanent recall until Sunday.

So as they start September, the Dodgers have 15 pitchers and 15 position players on their active roster  — with more to come.

#VinTop20: No. 18, Yasiel Puig’s first slam

18-Puig-1024x576

Between now and Vin Scully Appreciation Day on September 23, the Dodgers are revealing the results of the fan vote ranking Scully’s top 20 Dodger calls of all time, one at each home game. Here’s No. 18: Yasiel Puig’s first career grand slam.

— Jon Weisman

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No, you shouldn’t give up on Josh Reddick

PIRATES VS DODGERS

Dodgers at Reds, 9:35 a.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, LF
Andrew Toles, RF
Rob Segedin, 3B
Scott Kazmir, P

By Jon Weisman

Josh Reddick was a late scratch from today’s early game at Cincinnati, and the reason instantly came across like a taunt to his detractors — a jammed right middle finger.

Reddick is available off the bench, according to Dave Roberts, though it could be until at least Wednesday when he starts next, considering that lefty ace Madison Bumgarner is starting Tuesday for the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

But in the meantime, it’s another setback in what has been anything but a storybook chapter in Los Angeles for Reddick. Three weeks into his Dodger career, Reddick has one extra-base hit and a .211 on-base percentage. Combined with the absence of fellow former Oaklander Rich Hill from the starting rotation, judgment has rained down on the trade that sent Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas to the A’s for the pair.

It’s reasonable to expect more immediate impact from a trade specifically designed to boost the Dodgers’ pennant chances, particularly when the two players are free agents at the end of the year, than the Dodgers have gotten. But consider these counterpoints:

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Farm Fresh: August 16 minors highlights

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By Miranda Perez

Here are a few highlights from Tuesday the Dodger farm system, including one outing where the hits stopped coming:

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The latest turn in Yasiel Puig’s story isn’t the last

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Let’s separate Yasiel Puig’s fate as a baseball player from his fate with the Dodgers for a moment.

It’s certainly a convenient time to do it, with Puig on his way to Triple-A for the first time. He is a Dodger, and yet not a Dodger, and to say the least the baseball world is still processing it.

First comes the blame. Some say Puig had this demotion coming. Some say the Dodgers have mishandled his development. It’s easy to throw stones when there’s a free pile of ’em lining both sides of the Internet. No one’s claiming to be perfect, but no one should think it was easy.

What seems relevant to me is that it has never been in anyone’s interest to see Puig be anything less than the best he can be. That remains the case.

Maybe Puig’s next Major League game will be in another uniform. Maybe it’ll be in familiar, cozy L.A. whites before the next homestand is over. Maybe his next chapter won’t be written until 2017.

Even then, the next chapter will only be a chapter.

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Dodgers send Yasiel Puig, Ross Stripling to minors

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Josh Reddick, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, LF
Brandon McCarthy, P

By Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig has been sent to the minors, along with Ross Stripling, to make room on the 25-man roster for newly acquired outfielder Josh Reddick and reliever Jesse Chavez.

Rich Hill remains on the disabled list, which he is eligible to return from Thursday if he’s ready. (Technically, Hill is now the 23rd Dodger on the disabled list this year, setting a National League record.) Relief pitcher Josh Fields will also report to the minors.

The Dodgers are expected to comment later today about Puig, who is being optioned to the minors (as opposed to going on a rehab assignment) for the first time since March 26, 2013, when the team sent him to Double-A Chattanooga after his first Spring Training.

Puig’s transaction history appears below (click to enlarge):

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Dodgers stamp successful July with 14-3 victory

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Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Throughout July, Dodger bats and relievers had carried Los Angeles through their first full month without Clayton Kershaw. On the final day before August, they summed it up in one rollicking package.

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