Padres @ Dodgers Oct. 3, 2015: Welcome back, Yasiel Puig

If you had asked me last week if I thought Yasiel Puig would play for the Dodgers during the rest of the regular season, I would have answered with a resounding “No!” But here we are on the penultimate day of the season (for the Dodgers), and Puig is starting in right field. It has been deemed a “legendary” and “miraculous” recovery. Now, we just have to see if he’s legitimately healthy.

Padres
Dodgers
6:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
2B
Spangenberg
CF
Hernandez
CF
Upton
2B
Kendrick
3B
Solarte
3B
Turner
SS
Gyorko
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Wallace
LF
Ruggiano
LF
Amarista
RF
Puig
C
Hedges
C
Grandal
RF
Jankowski
SS
Rollins
P
Erlin (L)
P
Greinke (R)

One or two games isn’t going to fully determine that, and now the Dodgers’ front office has a tough decision to make regarding the postseason roster. Do they go with the elite talent in Puig despite missing almost half the season with a series of injuries or do they go with a guy like Scott Van Slyke (who might not make the roster due to an injured wrist), Justin Ruggiano or Scott Schebler? On the surface, it’s an easy decision, but if the Dodgers go with Puig and he re-aggravates his injury, then the Dodgers would have to replace him. He’s still not a sure thing to be ready physically, so it’s a risk to include him. Also, the Mets’ Top 3 starters average 96 MPH on their fastballs. Puig has just three hits on pitches of that speed all season. Last year, he had three and the year before he had seven. If Puig had been healthy for a majority of the season and wasn’t coming back two days before the end of the regular season, I’d be less concerned about him facing such velocity.

Honestly, I’d almost rather take a kid like Schebler, who hits the ball hard and is a better matchup against the Mets’ hard-throwing righties. Van Slyke or Ruggiano is the Dodgers’ counter to a left-handed pitcher (but not Steven Matz, who will miss the NLDS).

There’s no denying the defensive value Puig brings to the team. His arm is second to none in the majors and despite what some may say, he’s a borderline plus-defender in right field. I have missed Puig this season. He hasn’t been anywhere near the player he was in his first two seasons (he still owns a 112 wRC+, though). I don’t know if including him on the postseason roster — with everything he has dealt with this season — is the wisest move. Then again, my track record on this stuff of late hasn’t been great, so he’ll probably win the World Series MVP.

This makes me feel a little better …

… but I’m still concerned with rust being an issue.

In other news …

The Mets lost the first game of their doubleheader against the Nationals, with Game 2 in progress. At press time, the Dodgers hold a 1-game lead on them for home field advantage in the NLDS.

Zack Greinke gets the start. He is nine points ahead of Jake Arrieta in ERA. Arrieta made his final regular-season start on Friday, so as long as Greinke doesn’t get bombed by the Padres, he should finish with a league-best ERA. That should go a long way toward giving him some Cy Young votes. I still think (hope) Clayton Kershaw should win it.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.