LOS ANGELES — If there is a way to have a relatively quiet 30-home-run season, Yasiel Puig just might find a way to do it. The Dodgers right fielder homered on Friday night, and continues to find his comfort zone near the bottom of the batting order.
In a week the Dodgers celebrated six of their players named to the National League All-Star team, Puig was not one of them.
What Puig is is another cog in the wheel, not necessarily someone the Dodgers absolutely rely on to produce, but one who helps lengthen the lineup, a batting order that is averaging over five runs per game on the season, a mark the Dodgers haven’t reached since 2006.
Puig hit eighth on Friday night, and in the last seven weeks has hit seventh, eighth, or ninth in 31 of his 32 starts (he also hit fifth once during that span).
Since the start of June, Puig is hitting .294/.376/.549 with seven home runs in 117 plate appearances.
“You combine where he’s at in the order, and the production, on top of the defensive play. That’s a plus player,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He has learned and understood in certain situations with the pitcher behind him to take a walk, but if there is a mistake out over the plate, he has 16 home runs. He’s on his way to having a nice season.”
Puig’s 16 home runs are just three off his career high, set in his rookie campaign of 2013. His walk rate is above 10 percent (10.3%) for the first time since 2014.
The Dodgers haven’t set their post-break rotation just yet, but after allowing one run in five innings Kenta Maeda figures to be in it. “That’s something we’ll continue to talk about over the break, but I expect Kenta to be in the rotation when we start the second half,” Roberts said.
Logan Forsythe drove in the Dodgers’ first run with a single in the fourth inning, and also walked twice. On the season he’s up to .250/.373/.349, and in his last 12 games owns a .520 on-base percentage.
“There’s a consistent approach. There’s intent every time he steps in the box,” Roberts said. “People are quick to look at the average, but Logan has consistently gotten on base for us, even when he was struggling.”
Puig hit the only home run of the night on Friday, a 429-foot shot well into the left field pavilion. “The marine layer doesn’t really affect him,” Roberts said. “When Yasiel hits it good, it’s not coming back.”
Brandon McCarthy will take the mound on Saturday for the Dodgers in a late afternoon start (4:15 p.m. PT) exclusively on Fox. Former USC pitcher Ian Kennedy starts the middle game of the series for the Royals.
The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding roster move to activate McCarthy from the disabled list.