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.
Puis is not in the lineup Friday against the Phillies. Puig will take a seat for the first time all season after playing every inning in the Dodgers' first 23 games. Enrique Hernandez will play right field in his stead.
Puig went 3-for-3 with a home run, four RBI and his second steal of the season in Saturday's 8-4 win over the Diamondbacks. The polarizing outfielder was already having a strong fantasy day before he stepped into the batter's box in the eighth inning Saturday. He turned a great fantasy stat line into a monstrous one when he smacked a three-run shot off of Fernando Rodney. In just 12 games, Puig has already given fantasy owners highs and lows, but the end results have been positive for the 26-year-old. It is unclear whether he can keep this pace up all year, but there is no reason not to find out, at least until he goes through a prolonged slump.
Puig has cooled off on the Dodgers' current road trip, going 3-for-19 (.158) with no counting stats in his last five games. A red-hot opening series against the Padres had Puig sitting near the top of most-added lists, but his current slump has brought expectations back down to earth. Just as it was wise not to overreact to his hot start, the same could be said for his current five-game slump. The polarizing outfielder still owns an everyday role in a potent Dodgers' lineup, making him rosterable in most formats until we get a larger sample size.
Puig is hitting fourth in Friday's Dodgers lineup against the Rockies, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. The right fielder hit fifth Tuesday but seventh or eighth in his other three games. Puig, however, has smashed three home runs in his last two games and will probably occupy the cleanup spot against left-handed pitchers often, as he will Friday against Colorado's Kyle Freeland. The Dodgers are scheduled to face a left-handed starter in three of their next four games, so Puig might be able to build on his early success over the weekend.
Puig had a monster day at the plate Thursday, going 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs, four RBI, three runs scored and his first stolen base of the season in a win over the Padres. You are now looking at your major-league leader in home runs through four games. Puig's surprising power surge over the past two days should send his ownership ratings through the roof in standard formats, where he may not have been drafted based on his declining production over the past few seasons. The 26-year-old has always possessed physical tools, so he could be coming into his own as a hitter in his fifth season as a professional. It is worth mentioning that Puig has historically struggled with hard-throwing pitchers, and both of his home runs on Thursday came off of the soft-tossing Jered Weaver. Either way, the results are what they are, and those who took flyers on the athletic outfielder are reaping immediate dividends in the first week of the season.
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