Yasiel Puig is back in the starting lineup tonight against the Padres after getting a bit of a breather yesterday. It was the second game he has missed in the past week. Puig isn’t injured, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he’s worried that the outfielder’s frustration level is getting the best of him right now.
“The season is long, and it wears you down,” Mattingly said. “It’s part of learning to regulate yourself here, as far as rest or anything else. We’ve seen Dee Gordon and how much more consistent his approach is day in and day out now, staying at a certain level. I think Yasiel’s really emotional, and it’s hard to be really emotional and play 162.”
Puig has really scuffled this month, hitting .218/.306/.241 with two extra-base hits (both doubles) over 24 games. The 23-year-old outfielder has quietly had a pretty lengthy power outage, with just one home run since the All-Star break and two over his last 75 games dating back to late May. He still has a .271/.349/.408 batting line during that time, which isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but a return to form would be a welcome sight for the Dodgers down the stretch.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.