The Mets have a host of players to worry about in the NLDS against the Dodgers beginning on Friday, but Yasiel Puig should not be one of them.
As the Dodgers gear up for their October run, many questions have surrounded Puig. The outfielder, who just came off the 15-day disabled list (right hamstring), should be ready to go for Los Angeles. However, manager Don Mattingly said, via the Associated Press via USAToday.com, Puig looked “rusty” at practice and “looks like someone who hasn’t played in a while.”
Scott Van Slyke would likely play should Puig not be ready. At this point, Van Slyke is far more scary a bat than Puig.
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In 2014, Puig posted a slash-line of .296/.382/.480 and was selected to his make his first All-Star appearance while playing a key role in helping lead the Dodgers to back-to-back NL West crowns.
Although he has struggled in 2015, Puig has spent a good amount of the season on the DL. His numbers dropped significantly to .255/.322/.436 in less than half the at-bats he had last year.
Puig has the potential to hurt opponents at the plate and in the field, as he can go get it in the outfield and taunts baserunners with a cannon of an arm. Sure, he has struggled from the plate this year and is probably due for a breakthrough moment.
So how exactly does Puig being in the lineup help the Mets?
Well at first glance, it’s pretty obvious that Puig hasn’t been the same player or at the level that the Dodgers would like him to be at since April 25th, when he strained his left hamstring. It also didn’t do him much good when he found himself (day-to-day) on June 24th with a left-hand callus. As if he wasn’t plagued enough, Puig was put back on the DL on Aug. 28th when he strained his right hamstring.
It also doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Puig isn’t exactly the brightest of players on the basepaths, as he was part of two triple plays last year, countless attempts to steal home plate, and many other bone-headed plays.
We know Puig is a solid defender and is capable of hurting the Mets with his speed on the bases, that is of course if he keeps his head in the game. But, some may still don’t see exactly how the Mets have an advantage here. Well, lets keep searching.
Puig is a career .190/.246/.397 hitter against Mets pitching. This year alone Puig is batting .087/.120/.261 in 23 at-bats against the Mets. The only teams that Puig has struggled more against are the Marlins and the Brewers, in which he has a .000 batting average in 14 combined at-bats.
It gets better. Puig is hitting .083/.077/.333 at Citi Field this year, the only other ballpark in which he struggles more is Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, home of the Rangers.
Although it won’t be until game time when we know whether or not he’s truly back to 100 percent, if Puig is not using his maximum talent, then that’s something the Mets can use toward their advantage.
Puig’s woes against New York might just be exposed and magnified that much more if he’s not healthy, as it would condemn a solid bat from the middle of the Dodgers lineup. It would also limit a powerful bat in Van Slyke and force Mattingly to use him off the bench.
With the Mets’ young arms, they should be able to neutralize most of the Dodgers offense, and with a bat in the middle of the lineup that’s not producing, the Mets might just have what it takes to pull this thing off.