As I said in the initial Puig post, I would’ve benched Puig for being late to the park. It’s a no-brainer. You’re late, you ride the pine. This is not at all controversial. For Don Mattingly to do anything else would be wrong.
But of course, it’s never that simple with Puig. When he does something like this it’s the Worst Thing In The World. If you don’t believe me, read this from the Los Angeles Daily News:
Yes, he’s going to totally unravel the team. What’s more:
Yasiel Puig is the very thing that stands to undo the Dodgers’ World Series championship hopes. Not injuries to Clayton Kershaw or Brian Wilson or any other player . . . Don’t listen to anything he says. He’s not responsible. He’s reckless and selfish and his mistakes are inexcusable . . . He cheated everyone out of watching his antics — both dazzling and disturbing — in the home opener. Shame on him.
Clearly that’s not overstated. Not in the least. Puig being on this team is objectively far worse than not having Clayton Kershaw on it. Indeed, if it meant getting rid of Puig for good, I’m sure Don Mattingly would hold Kershaw’s arm out straight while Ned Colletti broke it with a sledgehammer. It’s that important!
Seriously, folks: this is what I get on about when I defend Puig. I don’t defend his actions when they are legitimately out of line. But I will defend anyone who attacked in such an over-the-top manner, as Puig routinely is. By people who are either unable or unwilling to distinguish between the notion of a player screwing up and a player dooming his team because of his screwups.
Puig has done the former plenty of times. He has done nothing close to the latter, and anyone suggesting otherwise is way more interested in sensationalism than accuracy.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.