Either you believe in Yasiel Puig or you don't. Both sides have valid cases. There's no denying his raw athletic ability, but it's also perfectly fair to question Puig's desire to get the most out of it. Last season was tumultuous for the Cuban native, beginning in the spring, when he avoided a suspension stemming from alleged domestic violence charges during a November 2015 bar fight. Puig was unable to get in a groove, perhaps a result of lingering left hamstring soreness that eventually resulted in a June DL stint. After returning, the struggles continued. That and a lack of hustle culminated in a minor league demotion. Puig responded well with an eye-popping slash line at Triple-A Oklahoma City, yet he was still placed on waivers. After being claimed and pulled back, Puig returned to the bigs when rosters expanded, hitting a modest .281 with four homers and 11 RBI. The good news for the believers is the price to own has dropped. The bad news is playing time isn't a sure thing. Invest at your own peril.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said right field is Puig's job to lose, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Sure, it's his to lose, but the spring competition is expected to be tight, with Andre Ethier, Franklin Gutierrez and, if healthy, Trayce Thompson (back), likely chiming in, as well. The enigmatic Puig has the talent to run with the gig, but his erratic performance hasn't done him any favors. Still, fantasy players can take a chance on him, thanks to his likely clearance-rack price.
Puig could end up platooning in right field with Andre Ethier. Having a former All-Star serve on the short side of the platoon seems odd at first glance, but it would actually make a lot of sense for the Dodgers. The club is loaded in the outfield heading into spring training, with plenty of major league level platoon candidates. How Puig performs this spring will go a big way in determining whether he is an everyday player or not.
Puig is in the lineup for the Dodgers' NLDS matchup with the Nationals on Monday. Puig did not start either of the first two games of the series, but he will replace Josh Reddick in the lineup Monday and hit cleanup against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.
Puig will start in right field and bat in the cleanup spot Sunday against the Giants, Doug Padilla of ESPN.com reports. Puig will end the season with four consecutive starts, all of which have come against left-handed starting pitchers. Through 61 plate appearances since returning to the Dodgers as a September call-up, Puig is slashing an excellent .302/.361/.604 with four homers and 11 RBI, but it's still expected that he'll stick in a platoon with Josh Reddick in right field during the postseason.
Puig is back in the lineup Sunday against the Diamondbacks, Andy McCullough of the LA Times reports. A lingering shoulder issue kept Puig of the lineup Saturday for the fourth consecutive game, but the Dodgers have maintained that the outfielder is not dealing with a serious injury. Puig will get the starting nod in center field and bat cleanup against Arizona's Robbie Ray.