NL West

Puig Return Imminent as Rest of Dodger Lineup Heats Up

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Yasiel Puig is finally off the disabled list for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his teammates’ bats are showing their excitement.

The pitching’s been there all season long for the Dodgers, even with several starting pitchers on the disabled list and Julio Urias’ rocky beginning to his major league career.

At times, however, the Dodger lineup has been among the worst in the league.

This week, though, they picked things up significantly. Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick, who have struggled all year, dominated opposing pitchers; they’re a combined 23-for-53, good for a .434 average, in their last eight games. They’ve led the Dodgers’ current four-game win streak.

L.A. has also won six of their last seven, and the team is now a season-best six games above .500 at 39-33.

Manager Dave Roberts did not feel the need to rush Puig back into action when he came off the DL yesterday. “It’s to give him (Puig) an extra day and also to get Trayce (Thompson) and Howie back in there,” said Roberts of his decision to leave Puig out of the lineup. “I felt that that was the right thing to do.”

Hamstring issues have plagued Puig for some time now; they limited him to just 79 games last season and have kept him off the field since June 2. Roberts knows this could become a serious, long-term issue for his eccentric, bat-flipping star if he doesn’t proceed with caution.

Puig’s in the lineup tonight against the Washington Nationals, batting seventh and playing right. Thompson heads to the bench, while Kendrick remains in left field.

Roberts didn’t pencil Puig in at the seven spot solely due to a lack of action; he’s also had a lack of production. Before the injury he was hitting a career-worst .237, and with the rest of the Dodger bats finally coming alive, Puig may need to prove he’s healthy and back to his usual self before he returns to the middle of the order.

“He’ll be back,” said Roberts confidently.

With Puig activated, Roberts has his hands full with the outfield. Kendrick is red hot, Joc Pederson is showing a lot of power with 13 home runs, three in the last week, and Thompson has done everything that was asked of him. For now, he is the odd man out, but Roberts has indicated a desire to find Thompson a spot in the everyday lineup at some point.

The Dodgers are now in sole possession of the top wild card spot in the N.L. With the Mets, Marlins and Cardinals all within a game and a half, however, L.A. would love for Puig to help widen that gap.

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