World Series Bound

Growing up the fan of a storied franchise, I learned to appreciate the past. The success, the legends, the history, and every bit of drama that led up to those historic moments people love to talk about. The “Wait ’til next year” mentality of Brooklyn teams, the tough losses in the late 70s that set up ’81 World Series. Every detail about the 9th inning in Game 1 of the World Series in 1988. But those moments don’t belong to me. Not really, anyway. I don’t recall where I was, what I was doing, or what I felt when it happened. I’ve seen some great dodger moments. I remember Finely’s walk of grand slam that clinched the 2004 division title. I remember jumping up and down in the living room during the 4+1 game, and I remember going crazy and snapping the hell out of Culbertson’s walk off home run last year that clinched the division on Vin Scully day. But, as great as those moments were, they weren’t quite as big as those moments that came before I was born. I was -3 years old the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series. And all I’ve done since the Dodgers clinched (6 hours ago now) is watch the same highlights over and over, read reactions on twitter, read articles about a series I watched, about players I followed all year. The team has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even before I understood the game, I remember turning to my father as we were going home to find out whether the Dodgers had won or lost. This is the farthest I’ve ever seen the team go, this is the closest I’ve ever seen them get to a championship. This is by far the best team I’ve ever seen. And this is the closest I’ve felt to being a part of it all, because for once I’m not missing out on history – these moments will belong to me.

NLCS In Review:

G1      5-2      W       CHC

G2       4-1      W      CHC

G3       6-1      W      @CHC

G4       2-3       L      @CHC

G5       11-1       W      @CHC

Dodgers win series 4-1

The Dodgers looked every bit like the team that was on pace to win 116 games this summer. Dave Roberts talked all year about the quality of the at bats, and you can see that in the way they took boarder line pitches and swung aggressively in the strike zone. Puig’s at bats come to mind because he made the biggest jump to become that player. It’s not just his journey, but the joy of finally seeing him live up to the potential that we all saw when he burst on the scene in 2013. Puig wasn’t the only one that stepped up though. Justin Turner has become the Babe Ruth of postseason and Chris Taylor was right along side him. Remember Corey Seager? Last years rookie of the year spent this series on the bench and the offense held up anyway, which speaks volumes to this teams depth. Charlie Culberson (who spent a majority of the year in AAA hit .455 with two doubles in a triple #DEPTH) came up huge in Corey’s absence. Speaking of #DEPTH. Who would have thought that Kike Hernandez would have been the one to slug the Dodgers into the World Series? (which was great to see everything he and his family have been through) Who knew Andre Ethier would come back from the dead to hit a big home run against Hendricks? (which was great to see considering who frustrating it must’ve been to miss most of two seasons) Then there’s Turner’s walk off home run that happened to be on the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s homer. The only two walk off home runs in franchise history. The pitching was excellent all across the board. It was great to see Kershaw pitch like Kershaw in the postseason. Yu Darvish is back to pitching like his Cy Young caliber self. Rich Hill and Wood were both solid and the bullpen was lights out. It was even nice to see Cody Bellinger pick it up toward the end of the series after being quiet for the first 3 games. (We’ll need you for the WS, Cody) All this is to say, the Dodgers have all the ingredients to win it all, and I couldn’t be more excited. I could have waited to write a whole big long emotional post but this was a big moment that needed to be written about, and it doesn’t matter if the Dodgers win or lose in the next round because either way my reaction will just involve a lot of tears, and that tends to mess up my keyboard. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go sell my soul for World Series tickets.

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Week In 25 Review:

After bouncing back from a horrid stretch of mediocre baseball, the Dodgers headed to Philadelphia to prey on a struggling Phillies team, plow through the rest of the season and dive into the postseason as the hottest team in baseball…OR drop the first three games to the Phillies because, baseball. The team would bounce back against San Francisco and clinch the division for the fifth consecutive year, the first NL West team to do so.

9/18 3-4 L
9/19 2-6 L
9/20 5-7 L
9/21 5-4 W
9/22 4-2 W
9/23 1-2 L
9/24 3-1 W

Record For The Week: 3-4

Key Moments
Chris Taylor hits inside-the-park home run
Dodgers have six players with at least 20 home runs for the first time.
Dodgers clinch NL West for fifth consecutive year
Dickson’s first career hit
Dodgers win their 99th game.

Player Of The Week: Logan Forsythe
After struggling offensively through his first year with the Dodgers, Forsythe has begun to show signs of life, having more aggressive at bats and hiting the ball harder.

Week Twenty-Five Puig

You got, “Benched Puig”

Puig took it upon himself to get thrown out at second, standing up, in a one run game, and then twisted his ankle. Good job. It’s worth noting he didn’t hit much this week anyway so, this is probably for the best.

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Week 24 In Review: They Got Good Again

By the time the game ended at Tuesday morning, the Dodgers had lost 11 straight games, 16 out of 17 they saw their lead in the west drop by 12 games. The team had won their 92nd game on September 1st and wouldn’t win their 93rd game until September 12th. Clayton Kershaw would hold the Giants to only two runs over six innings and Kenley Jansen would hold onto the lead to get the save. Kershaw would go on to set the tone for the rest of the starters. Dervish, Wood and Hill would each find their for. After taking the rest of the series in San Francisco the Dodgers faed a potential playoff matchup in the Washington Nationals. It should be worth noting that the Dodgers didn’t exactly face the best the Nationals had to offer, however, the Dodgers did take the series and coming off their worst stretch so I’ll take it. It was only a matter of time before they turned it around but it’s a relief that they finally got over the hump and can focus on winning the division.

9/11 6-8 L @SFG
9/12 5-3 W @SFG
9/13 4-31 W @SFG

9/15 7-0 W @WAS
9/16 3-2 W @WAS
9/17 1-7 L @WAS

Record For The Week: 4-2

Key Moments:
Rain Delay
Dodgers snap 11-game losing streak
Dodgers clinch playoff spot
Bellinger ties NL rookie record for HR
Darvish goes 7 shutout innings
Wood goes 6 scoreless

Injury Update:
Brandon McCarthy (blister) Sent on Double-A assignment

Player of the Week: Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw had the only win during their bad stretch so of course he would be the one to stop it, wouldn’t expect anything different from the best pitcher of his generation.

Week Twenty-Four Puig:

You got, “The Good Puig”

The Dodgers saw their offense return this week and that was as big a part of their success this week as any. Puig was a big part of that, he also had a big RBI double to help snap there Dodgers 11 game losing streak.

Stats: .346/.346/.692 2 HR 0 BB 5 SO

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Episode 14 – The End is Near

In the final episode of the 2017 regular season, Adam and Seth review their year long WAR contest and look ahead to the NLDS.

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Week 23 In Review: Dodgers Forget How To Baseball

The Dodgers hate us now. I don’t know what we did to them, but they’ve decided to lash out and treat us to awful baseball.

We talked about the Dodgers struggles last week, and they continued to be awful this week.  The team showed a couple signs of breaking out of it, several close games agains the Rockies, and a 4-1 lead early on Friday. In the end, the Dodgers dropped all 7 games this week, extended their losing streak to 10 games, and have now dropped 15 of their last 16. There isn’t much more to say, this isn’t fun anymore.

They still own the best record in baseball, (a title that is in danger btw) which is pretty interesting considering how awful they’ve been for two weeks. Just a testament to how good this team used to be, you know, when they  loved us.

9/04       0-13       L        ARZ
9/05        1-3         L        ARZ
9/06        1-3         L        ARZ
9/07        1-9         L        COL
9/08        4-5        L        COL
9/09        5-6        L        COL
9/10        1-8         L        COL

Record For The Week: 0-7

Key Moments:

  • Walker Buehler makes his MLB debut
  • Andre Ethier hits his first HR of 2017.
  • Darvish picks up his 1,000 career K. Fastest pitcher to do so.

Injury Update:
Adrian Gonzalez (lower back) day-to-day
Scott Kazmir (left hip strain) sent on class A rehab
Adam Liberatore (forearm) out for season
Franklin Guttierez (back) out for season
Brandon McCarthy (blister) transferred to 60-day DL

Player of the Week: Andre Ethier .571/.625/1.000 (7 AB) 1 HR

Humpty Dumpty has been put back together again, and it’s nice to see him back on the field, the fact that he’s been productive is just a nice bonus.

Week Twenty-Three Puig:

You got, “Whatever Puig”

It’s hard to care when the team has been so awful, and he hasn’t exactly helped things.

Stat line: .222/.300/.333

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Week 22 In Review: What. The. Hell.

Dear Dodgers,

I don’t know what’s going on here, but this is NOT what I ordered.

I was promised a magical team. A team that would become the most winningest team in baseball. I was promised a team that would break records, dominate the game and storm their way into the playoffs like not team before it….but what I got in it’s place was a week so pathetic and disappointing I could have called it a date.

Coming off his brilliant performance, Rich Hill, decided to seek revenge by being brilliantly awful. Don’t have to worry about a “perfect game/run support” narrative after getting  shelled for five runs in the first inning of the week. Ryu and Maeda would seek inspiration in Hill’s struggles and allow a combined 10 runs in their first three innings of work. The team then flew down to San Diego to open a series with the Padres. With Kershaw returning, and shiny new September call ups, (and Ethier) to face a less than spectacular Padre team, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to rebound from a rough sweep. So of course they didn’t. Their only win was largely Kershaw’s doing, as the offense begrudgingly squeezed out only one run of support. The rest of the series was more of the same as the Dodgers dropped the rest of the four game series.

When approaching a disaster, it is important to understand, how and why it happened. So, let’s dive in:

Starting Pitching:

The Dodger pitchers were taking it from both ends but every starter except for Kershaw struggled this week. There are some issues here. Dervish’s command has been inconsistent in many of his starts and Alex Wood’s velocity had dipped back down late into his start. Hill’s start was sandwiched between two solid starts so this does not appear to be a concern going forward. Maeda and Ryu may both be regressing big time, but they’ve been over performing for a significant time now and both are back end starters anyway. The great thing about this week is that Kershaw looked like himself in his return from the injury and he’s the biggest key to the Dodgers success anyway.

Bullpen:

Part of the reason the Dodgers had a chance to comeback in so many games this summer was the bullpens ability to keep the games close. While people love to hate on the bullpen the Dodgers have statistically had one of the best in baseball coming into the week. So while Baez, Font, Castillo, and Fields all struggled this week, the biggest concern is Baez, who continues to be used in high leverage situations and is simply not as good as some might believe. Other than ERA his numbers aren’t pretty and this is a guy that does figure to make the postseason roster. Which is not the case for Font and Castillo, while it would have been nice to see them perform well, management simply wants to get a look at them against major league hitters. The bullpen has had it’s bright spots. Watson, Paredes, and Cingrani have each looked good, particularly Cingrani who seems to be responding to the changes the team has made with him.

Offense:

It’s worth noting that four of the six losses were by two runs or less. So while the games might have been ugly early. The Dodgers nearly came back, and for a team struggling as much as they have, it’s a little releasing to know they were probably one big hit away from winning five out of the seven games this week. The other good news is that two of the players that were scuffling last week, were two of the best hitters, this week. Gonzalez and Turner turned around their recent struggles rather quickly which is a good sign for the team. Aside from Taylor, the rest of the struggled. Particularly Logan Forsythe and Curtis Granderson. The concern here is that these are two players that figure to make the postseason roster, and yet we’ve seen how quickly veterans can turn things around in Turner and Gonzalez. The only real worry here is that Forsythe has largely underperformed offensively for most of the season. The talent is still there however, and he may just need a fresh start, and the postseason could be the perfect time to do just that.

It may seem like the magic has run out, but to boil the Dodgers success to this point to magic or luck would be undermining the truth. The truth is that there is no magic and there was never magic, only a team full of talent, a team with so much depth that they could throw any hitter up in a big spot late in the game and he would be the right man for the job. You can’t rig this game to always come out on top, but the best way to increase your odds is to load up on talent, and that’s what they’ve done. But even the best players and most talented players will have slumps, they will fail much more than half of the time, because that’s just how the game works, and it’s not magic or luck, it’s simply the game.

There’s no way around it, this week was ugly. The starters gave up runs early, the bullpen gave up runs late, and the offense didn’t do much either. And yet, with the exception of two of the losses, the team was in most of the games until the end. The Dodgers weren’t exactly rolling out there best players out there either. So before you hit the panic button, remember that they weren’t going to play historic baseball forever, remember that they are resting their regulars because they can, remember that they can afford to struggle for awhile. Because despite the fact the Dodgers have seen their lead rapidly shrink, the Dodgers are still 12.5 games ahead. Arizona is already deep into a hot streak, to pass the Dodgers in the next two weeks the Diamondbacks will have needed to break off a 24 game winning streak, and the Dodgers will have had to have lost every one of those games in the meantime.

So Dodgers,

Please win, because Diamondback fans are getting cocky and they are incredibly obnoxious. Thanks!

Sincerely,

A fan that got used to wins.

  • 8/29           6-7            L            @ARZ
  • 8/30            4-6            L            @ARZ
  • 8/31            1-8            L            @ARZ
  • 9/01            1-0            W            @SD
  • 9/02            5-6            L            @SD
  • 9/02            2-7            L            @SD
  • 9/03            4-6            L            @SD

Record For The Week: 1-6 (yikes)

Key Moments:

  • Kershaw dazzles in return
  • Turner homers in 9th to tie game
  • Ethier returns
  • Bellinger becomes new Dodger rookie HR leader
  • Verdugo picks up his first ML hit.

Injury Update:

Josh Fields (lower back) placed on 10-day DL

Grant Dayton (neck stiffness) transferred to 60-day DL

Corey Seager (elbow soreness) day-to-day

Adam Liberatore (forearm) sent on Triple A rehab assignment

Brandon McCarthy (blister) sent on throwing bullpen session

Player of the Week: Clayton Kershaw

The guy can miss a couple a weeks and then pitch like nothing happened. What a beast.

Week Twenty-Two Puig:

You got, “Eh, Puig”

Puig wasn’t the problem with this week, though he wasn’t exactly the solution either. Pretty forgettable line in an utterly forgettable week for the boys in blue.

.238/.360/.476

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Week 21 In Review: Out of Office: Offense Edition

This week it was announced that the Dodger’s would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline “Best. Team. Ever?” So naturally, they lost a no-hitter in the 10th, and saw their undefeated series streak end. Obviously they’re cursed…Orrr maybe we’re reasonable people that understand the Dodgers were probably not going to win every series until the end of time. Maybe with all the magical moments they’ve had this year, something wasn’t going to go their way. Doesn’t make the Rich Hill game any less brutal but that’s baseball. That’s the game I signed up for, and that’s what keeps us hooked.  As a staff it’s great to see peak Hill along with an impressive Ryu and Maeda. They’ve been incredibly impressive the last few weeks. The offense, on the other hand, has not been impressive. This was evident in the Rich Hill game. Take a look at some of these offensive lines:

Justin Turner: .167/286/.208

Adrian Gonzalez: .192/250/.346

Logan Forsythe: .200/.455/.467

Chris Taylor: .226/.294/.290

Curtis Gradnerson also hit .143 on the week though he worked 8 walks and hit for power and still found ways to be productive. Of the players in this group, Adrian Gonzalez is the big concern. After missing a large chunk of the season due to injury, he’s hardly been productive when he has been on the field. I do expect him to turn around a bit, as he adjusts after missing so much time, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near the heart of the lineup, and I don’t expect him to be. Dave Roberts has already stated that Cody Bellinger will take over at first base when he returns which will be a much needed boost in the lineup. The Dodgers faced some tough pitching this week, which is hardly an excuse as that’s almost exclusively what they will see in the playoffs, but it’s not time to hit the panic button. Even with the poor numbers the Dodgers still won four of seven this week, and their stars aren’t going to slump forever. Oh, and they’re still on pace to win 114 games with Kershaw and Bellinger set to return, so they should be fine.

8/21      6-5        W      @PIT
8/22      8-5       W      @PIT
8/23      0-1        L       @PIT
8/24      5-2       W      @PIT
8/25      3-1        W       MIL
8/26      0-3       L        MIL
8/27      2-3        L       MIL

Record For The Week: 4-3

Key Moments:

  • Granderson’s grand slam
  • Puig’s homer in the 12th
  • Gonzales 2,000 hit
  • Dodgers reach 90 wins
  • Rich Hill takes no hitter into the 10th
  • Maeda holds brewers to 1 hit

Injury Update:
Cody Bellinger (mid right ankle sprain) Scheduled to return 8/30
Grant Dayton (neck stiffness) Shcheduled for Tommy John surgery
Andre Ether (lower back) Sent on Triple-A assignment
Josh Fields (lower back) placed on 10-day DL
Scott Kazmir (left hip strain) throwing simulated games
Adam Liberatore (forearm) Sent on Class A rehab assignment
Brandon McCarthy (blister) Sent on Class A rehab assignment
Alex Wood (join inflammation) Placed on 10-day DL
Clayton Kershaw (lower back) Sent on Triple-A assignment

Player of the Week: Richard Joesph Hill

Rich Hill was brilliant in his outing on Wednesday and he would have pitched a perfect game… if the dodgers had scored a run, or if Forsythe could have fielded a ground ball, or if Granderson was like 6 inches taller. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant outing. Baseball is cruel sometimes.

Week Twenty-One Puig:

You got, “M-V-Puig”

Puig was a bright spot in an otherwise quiet week offensively. Puig made several brilliant defensive plays to go with his strong offensive line:

.417/517/.792

3 2B
2 HR
4 BB
6 SO

Puig has been impressive all season long but weeks like this display Puig’s incredible ceiling. Plus he had this gem about the SI cover curse:

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Episode 13-A Grand(erson) Entrance

This week Adam and Seth discuss the recent trade for a veteran outfielder, the return of a veteran infielder, and two big DL stints.

 

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Sweet, Sweet Fantasy Team, Baby

In July the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish. The move could easily be seen as front office being “extra” given the fact that they already had 6 quality pitchers and a huge lead in the division. But the move was about the bigger picture, and that was always clear. Thaws a move designed to push the Dodgers to the next level. But now it’s getting ridiculous. The Dodgers acquired Curtis Granderson. With 5 outfield options and Ethier on his way back from injury the Dodgers got another outfielder and as it may seem excessive, it still makes the team better. The move keeps Granderson from going to many other contenders which could have used him and gave up virtually nothing. He haunted the Dodgers during the 2015 NLDS and has given a hard time to prospective postseason competitors:

Oh! And apparently he’s really nice too. This team looks really good on paper, and is just as good in reality. It’s the kind of lineup you would create if you turned off “Fair Trades” on a video game. It’s only been a few games and the move is already paying off. The front office isn’t just trying to win the division, they know what the big picture is and they know what they need to do to put themselves in the best position to succeed. They’re building a beast, and it’s amazing.

8/15     6-1     W     CWS
8/16     5-4     W     CWS
8/18     8-5     W     @DET
8/19     3-0     W     @DET
8/20     1-6     L      @DET

Record For The Week: 4-1

Key Moments:

  • Dodgers improve to 50 games above .500
  • Kike hits 3rd HR off Rodon this year
  • Darvish exits with injury in Home Debut
  • Puig completes 3 run comeback in the 9th
  • Adrian Gonzalez returns from DL
  • Puig’s diving catch
  • Taylor collects 4 hits
  • Dodgers acquire Curtis Grandson
  • Joc Pederson is sent down
  • Bellinger injures ankle

Injury Update:
Yu Darvish (lower back) placed 10-day DL
Cody Bellinger (mid right ankle sprain) day-to-day
Grant Dayton (neck stiffness) Shut down indefinitely
Andre Ether (lower back) Sent on Double-A assignment
Clayton Kershaw (lower back) Threw simulated game 8/21

Player of the Week: Austin Barnes
He doesn’t get talked about all that much being a backup catcher, but, geez what a hitter.

Week Twenty Puig:

You got, “Clutch Puig!”

Puig has always been such a polarizing players, and his play has been so inconsistent that we created this feature to comment on which Puig was showing up on any given week. But for the most part 2017 has been consistent. 2017 doesn’t hit for a high average (a pretty modest .251) but he does walk and good for a .337 OBP. He hits for power, an aspect that’s been missing from his game the last two seasons. He still possess an above average arm, and his defense is now among the top in the outfield. But one of the biggest changes visible in his game this year is the quality of his at bats, particularly in high leverage situations.There aren’t as many pop ups or strike outs or aggressive swings at breaking balls away. That improvement was paid off in his at bat on the 9th on Wednesday. Quality at bats put hitters in a better position to succeed, and the more often a hitter does so, the more you come up with moments like this:

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, center, watches his two-run double off Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jake Petricka, left, in the ninth inning that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 win in a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Statistically Puig is actually just around average in high leverage situations, but that is still a huge improvement, and one I’ll gladly take.

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Week 18 In Review: The Limit Does Not Exist

The 2013 Dodgers featured a talented group of players, and for a stretch of 50 games they went on a run of 42-8 setting a new Dodger record…amateurs. That group was surpassed this week by the 2017 Dodgers with their comeback victory on Saturday. Now we get to the fun part, getting to break it into ridiculous tidbits:

  • The Dodgers have a 79-32 game lead, 15.5 lead in their decision, and 8 games better than the next best team in baseball.
  • They are on pace for 115 wins, the most since the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116) who tied the MLB record.
  • The Dodgers have won 44 of their last 51 games, that is roughly 30% of the regular season and a 140-22 pace.
  • The Dodgers have hit 25 homers against the Mets in 7 games.
  • The Dodgers have a 276+ run differential.
  • The Dodgers are above .500 in games where they have trailed at any point. (33-32)
  • The Dodgers have lost 19% if their games to the struggling Giants (44-69) because, well, baseball.
  • If the Dodgers play one game above .500 for the rest of the season, they will win 105 games this season.

We’ve talked a lot about how great this team is, Darvish was marvelous in his debut, and #6 and #7 starter Maeda, and Ryu both had great outings, which speaks volumes about this teams, depth, and biggest contributor to their success. The crazy part of it is that some of the offensive pieces are only beginning to heat up. Taylor has been hot for awhile, as has Seager, but Bellinger looks to be getting into a groove along with Puig. And don’t forget about Turner, who hit 2 home runs against his former team. There’s no doubt that this is a historically good team, but as for finding ways to break it down? Well, the limit does not exist.

8/01      3-2      W      @ATL
8/02      3-5      L       @ATL
8/03      7-4      W      @ATL
8/04      6-0      W      @NYM
8/05      7-4      W      @NYM
8/06      8-0      W      @NYM

Record For The Week: 5-1

Key Moments:

  • Maeda works 7 scoreless in Atlanta
  • Darvish Dodger debut
  • Dodgers go 43-7 for best streak in 100+ years
  • Ryu dominates Mets

Injury Update:
Andre Ether (lower back) Rehab begins Aug 7
Adrian Gonzalez (lower back) Rehab assignment Aug 3
Chris Hatcher (thoracic inflammation) Began Triple A assignment Aug 4
Rob Segedin (Right toe strain) Began Triple A assignment Aug 3
Yasmani Grandal (back spasms) Exited early Aug 5
Franklin Gutierrez (Anklyosis Spondylitis) transferred to 60-Day DL
Brandon McCarthy (Blister) Placed on 10-Day DL
Alex Wood (Arm Fatigue)

Player of the Week: Yu Darvish

That fact the Ryu is even able to contribute on this team is a miracle, which makes his brilliant Sunday outing all the more special. But Darvish did pretty much all you could expect from his Dodger Debut.

7 innings
3 Hits
1 BB
10 SO

That’ll do.

Week Eighteen Puig:

You got, “Legit Puig”!

Another pretty solid from the Dodger outfielder, hitting the ball in the air suits him well.

Stats:
.300/.417/.700

2 HR
4 BB
4 SO

Swing Of The Week:

Ballinger’s 32 – HR that sound tho

Pitch of the Week

Yu Darvish Something

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