The sensational summers delivered by teammates Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Justin Turner have attracted most of the attention, but Puig is quietly putting together one of his most impressive campaigns heading into the series finale Sunday against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Puig is hitting .255 with a career-high 21 home runs to go along with 55 RBIs and 53 runs, but it was his nine-pitch walk Saturday night that earned considerable praise and attention, as it loaded the bases to set up Seager’s bases-clearing double that gave Los Angeles the lead for good in the 6-3 victory.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Puig’s season has really picked up ever since he slammed a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to beat the Miami Marlins, 6-4, on July 14.
“There have been some big spots that Yasiel has been in, and the at-bat quality, with regards to result, has been very good,” Roberts said. “Yasiel is really growing as a player, and especially in those spots.”
San Diego manager Andy Green would like to see more of those types of at-bats from his players. The Padres went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night.
“Those are the kinds of empty at-bats that get us down,” he said.
San Diego will try to improve Sunday against Los Angeles right-hander Kenta Maeda (10-4, 3.69 ERA), who will be looking to win his fifth consecutive decision.
Maeda will make his fourth start of the season against the Padres. He’s 0-2 against them with a 5.93 ERA in 2017, the only team that’s handed him multiple losses this season. Maeda had the shortest start of this season in a 5-3 loss in San Diego on July 2, allowing five earned runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.
He did not earn a decision in an 8-2 victory at San Diego on May 5 and took the loss in a 4-0 defeat on April 4, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings.
Maeda has struggled overall against the NL West this season, owning a 1-3 record in seven starts with a 6.89 ERA.
Maeda will be opposed by right-hander Luis Perdomo (6-6, 4.81 ERA), who will be making his first appearance against the Dodgers this season. He faced them six times in 2016, the last three as a starter. His only win in four decisions against Los Angeles came in the last week of the regular season, when the Dodgers had already clinched the NL West.
Among the active players for the Dodgers, Seager has had the most success, collecting six hits in 15 at-bats against Perdomo, though none were for extra bases.
“I was pleased with him,” Green told the San Diego Union-Tribune after Perdomo’s last start, when he allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-3 win Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. “Because he pitched himself into trouble a couple times and pitched himself out of it. I think we were excited to see him take those steps forward.”