I said before that another soul crushing playoff failure, that it would be my last straw with manager Don Mattingly. I meant what I said. I am finished with him now more than ever. That final straw was an indefensible decision he made before game 4. No it wasn’t leaving Clayton Kershaw in too long in game 1, or poor bullpen management in the other games. It wasn’t bunting, or anything else. It was the decision to bench Yasiel Puig in game 4 of the Dodger’s NLDS against the Cardinals. Andre Ethier was penciled in center field for game 4, and batted sixth.
There is just no defense for this choice. In my opinion Mattingly should have been immediately fired after the Dodger’s 3-2 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Don’t even wait for the players to change into their street clothes.
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Don Mattingly decided to bench Puig citing the reason for this because he wanted to give his club the best chance of winning. Not starting your best offensive weapon does not do this. Puig has been one of the Dodger’s best offensive players all season long.
Puig finished with a .296/.382/.480 slash line with an OPS of .863 during the regular season. He hit 16 home runs and had 69 Runs batted in during 148 games and 640 plate appearances. Puig doubled his walk total from 2013 with 67 free passes, taking advantage of a more patient plate approach.
Puig finished with 165 hits, 37 doubles, and 9 triples to go along with his 16 long balls. Puig had a very good season, and has been a viable offensive threat from the number two spot in the lineup for most of the season.
But public pressure seems to always weigh down on Mattingly’s decisions. There has been a ton of public pressure in the last several days to not play Puig because he went through a stretch of seven consecutive strikeouts during the NLDS. And four of them were in one game.
During the regular season that kind of mini-slump is barely a blurb on the front page. But since it’s the postseason it’s a major headline. Of course anything involving Puig is always a headline.
So Puig struck out seven consecutive times during the series. So what? Does that constitute a benching during the Dodger’s most important game of the season? Small sample sizes guys.
Let’s check out how Puig did in the four game playoff series against the Cardinals.
Puig overall batted .250 (3 for 12) with a .350 OBP, and one triple four runs scored, one walk and eight strikeouts in 14 plate appearances. Not great, but definitely not horrible. It certainly doesn’t constitute a benching in a must win game.
Let’s not forget that Puig reached base four times in game 1. Here’s how he did in all four games.
Game 1- 2 for 4 3 runs scored. 2 singles, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Game 2- 0 for 4 with four strikeouts
Game 3 – 1 for 4 with three strikeouts, 1 triple, 1 Run scored
Game 4 – DNP, (appeared as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning)
Ok so game two was a brutal performance, but if you take away that game, then he has three hits in eight at-bats. Was he great? No, but he didn’t deserve to be benched. By depriving the Dodgers of their most potent offensive weapon, Don Mattingly doomed the club offensively before the start of game 4. The Dodgers scored just two runs on eight singles in their 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals. And who knows, maybe if Puig plays he hits a home run? Or another triple? They would have had a better chance of winning with Puig in the lineup, then without.
Don Mattingly consistently has showed that he is unable to manage the big games on the big stage in the postseason.
How did Andre Ethier do in game 4? He was 0 for 2 with two walks, and a costly pick-off Tootblan at third base. No offense to Ethier, but it sure would have been nice to see what Puig could have done in that game. Dodger fans were deprived of seeing one of the most exciting players play in the final game of the season. What a joke.