Yasiel Puig is on fire and the Dodgers won’t stop winning when he’s in the lineup

85 Comments

Yasiel Puig started yesterday hitting .276 with an .835 OPS on the season. He ended yesterday hitting .309 with an .891 OPS. And in between he got on base eight times (six hits, plus two walks) in the Dodgers’ doubleheader sweep over the Twins.

Puig has been ripped apart by the media for much of the season and manager Don Mattingly benched him for showing up late to an April 4 game, but he’s hitting .325 since that benching and his overall numbers are basically identical to his overall rookie numbers. Or, put another way: Puig has again been very, very good and the Dodgers are again winning a whole lot of games with him in the lineup.

In fact: Puig has now played 129 career games, hitting .317 with a .392 on-base percentage and .526 slugging percentage. He’s started 119 of those games and the Dodgers’ record in them is 78-41, which is the equivalent of winning 106 games over the course of a full 162-game schedule. But yeah: What a huge distraction he must be.

Announcement: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

David Maxwell/Getty Images
1 Comment

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
1 Comment

Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.