Dodgers @ Rockies August 2, 2016: New Friends

There wasn’t a Dodger game on Monday, but there was no shortage of news. Not only were a few trades made on deadline day, but there was also a whirlwind storm of absurdity and uncertainty surrounding Yasiel Puig‘s place with the team. After Ken Rosenthal’s initial report regarding the team’s decision to trade or demote Puig and his supposed subsequent reaction, he corrected the mistake where he cited a source who said the outfielder “stormed off.” Puig later reached out to Rosenthal via Twitter with no hard feelings.

5:40 p.m. PT
 Pederson  SS  Descalso
McCarthy (R)
Gray (R)

Speaking of feelings, it was not easy to understand exactly why the Dodgers would demote Puig after they failed to trade him on Monday. Certainly the multiple hamstring injuries have hampered his production since he burst on to the scene in that epic summer of 2013, but he had been improving offensively since returning from the disabled list this season. Other players on the roster, namely Scott Van Slyke, Howie Kendrick, Carl Crawford, Enrique Hernandez, Will Venable, Trayce Thompson and even Joc Pederson have slumped at different points this year, shrinking potential offensive production from the outfield. A Puig demotion seems more to do with his polarizing persona than his trouble connecting with sliders outside of the zone.

Even if you don’t like Puig, a team without him in favor of Andrew Toles, Chris Taylor and even Van Slyke is a weaker team. If the thought process is to actually have Puig work on his swing down in Triple-A and eventually return him to the big club, then it could be accepted as a warranted decision. For now it looks as though the front office flat out doesn’t want him anymore.

According to Farhan Zaidi, it was a combination of factors. 

The situation is a major distraction to the team who is only two games out of first place in the NL West coming into their three-game series in Colorado on Tuesday night. Both the Dodgers and Giants made trades on Monday to bolster their respective teams down the stretch. New friends Josh Reddick, Rich Hill, Jesse Chavez and Josh Fields join the Dodgers. Some may argue that they didn’t do enough, and some may say they gave up too much. Despite the Puig drama and the fact they didn’t give up the entire farm system to land Chris Sale, the team is stronger with the new reinforcements.

The Dodgers are banking on Brandon McCarthy (2-1, 2.39 ERA, 2.64 FIP) who has pitched well since returning from Tommy John surgery. Although he is coming off his roughest start of the season, a four-inning loss to Tampa Bay, his return to the mound has been a success thus far. He’s struck out 33 batters in 26 1/3 innings (11.3 K/9).

The Dodgers secured a series sweep against the Rockies in early July at Dodger Stadium behind a stellar season debut by McCarthy. This time the right-hander will have to face the Rockies in the devil’s arena. Coors Field is always a menace to pitchers, and McCarthy is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in two career starts there. Overall against the Rockies, he is 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA in six starts. Nolan Arenado has hit two home runs against him.

The Rockies send rookie right-hander Jon Gray (7-4, 3.94 ERA) to the mound. He is 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez and Corey Seager have hit him well with nine hits and two home runs between them. Gray’s effectiveness of his four pitch repertoire has continued to develop successfully, and he has only allowed five runs over his last four starts. He has struck out 114 batters in 109 2/3 innings of work (9.4 K/9).

Colorado (52-53) is in third place, nine games behind the Giants. They are 4 1/2 games back in the Wild Card standings and certainly are not out of the race just yet. They remained inactive at the trade deadline on Monday, holding on to potential trade baits Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Jorge De La Rosa and Boone Logan. They are 12-5 since the All-Star break, the best in baseball.

Unfortunately Trevor Story is lost for the season with a torn thumb ligament.

Reddick gets his first start as a Dodger in right field, batting fourth. To make room for Reddick and Josh Fields who were both activated, Puig and Ross Stripling were optioned to the minors. Puig is on option waivers for 48 hours before his assigment to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Hill was placed on the 15-day DL (blister), making him the 23rd player (a NL record) to land on the disabled list this year for the Dodgers. His blister is reportedly healing, and he will throw a bullpen session tomorrow.

Brock Stewart is also with the team in Denver.

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact the Puig may never play for the Dodgers again, but I’ll leave you with his spectacular throw to nab Trevor Story at third base at Coors Field from April. His talent still shines bright despite the constant negativity-some justified and some fabricated-that has plagued his career.

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About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.