Dodgers Dugout: Where did this Yasiel Puig guy come from?

Dodgers Dugout: Where did this Yasiel Puig guy come from?
Yasiel Puig (Jae C. Hong / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. This team is looking a lot more like the one that went 81-24 than the one that went 1-16.

Game 2


Well, that was interesting. When Rich Hill gave up that mammoth two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt, I thought "Uh, oh." But then Hill did an amazing thing: He pitched like a No. 2 starter. He escaped jams, changed speeds and kept Arizona off balance for four innings. Sure, I'd love for him to go six or seven, but after that first inning, all I am going to say is "Thank you, Rich Hill."

Then the Dodgers offense took over. Sure, they were helped that Arizona starter Robbie Ray had an off night, but that's what good offenses do. They take advantage of a pitcher's weakness. They laid off bad pitches, worked the count, scored their first run without a hit and pounced when he threw a pitch in the zone. Then they got to the weak middle relief of the Diamondbacks and took advantage of them.

I know that Jimmie Sherfy is a longtime friend of Arizona manager Torey Lovullo's family, but if I'm Lovullo, I'm not sure if I'm going to call on him again. He has an ERA of 36.00 this postseason. This must be what it feels like for fans of other teams when Pedro Baez comes in to pitch.

Can Austin Barnes start every game? Pretty please?

Yasiel Puig is five for nine. Logan Forsythe is four for eight. When I said someone besides the big four needed to step up, this is what I was talking about.

I want to talk about Puig for a second. Sure, I called for him to be sent down to the minors last season, but I have always liked him. He plays with a passion that is fun to watch. Just look at him this series. Licking bats, wagging his tongue, sliding into third on a triple, pounding his chest on a single, flipping his bat.

Most people who watch baseball games wish they were playing. Because we think it would be the best job in the world. So when we see a guy like Puig, who takes such joy in everything, it makes us happy. There's a guy who gets it. This is supposed to be fun. Sure, we know the constant travel and not seeing your family is a drag. But playing the game for a living? Fun. So many players approach the game with no emotion. Puig reminds us of what it was like to play the game when you were a kid.

And look at this new Puig since coming back from the minors. Sure, he has his knucklehead moments at times. But he is a much better player. He should win the Gold Glove this year. He lays off pitches out of the zone that he would swing at in past seasons. He goes into plate protection mode when he gets two strikes on him. He seems focused on every at bat. In short, he has become a player the Dodgers can rely on instead of worrying about. Good for him. I hope it's the beginning of a long postseason run for Puig with the Dodgers, stretching on for many seasons.

Kenta Maeda looked like a different pitcher in his short relief stint in Game 2. One inning, two strikeouts, one victory. The batters he faced seem to have no clue. If I had to criticize one thing about Game 2, it was that I thought Dave Roberts took him out too early. He looked dominant. I would have left him at least until he gave up a hit. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Have the Dodgers found their setup man of the future?"

Cody Bellinger is 1 for 10 with six strikeouts, and it looks like he starts his swing before the pitcher lets go of the ball. Relax, Cody. Fans aren't expecting you to hit a home run every time up. Just go back to that swing that got you here.

Curtis Granderson got a hit in Game 2. What happened?

Only Dennis Eckersley of the TBS announcing crew of Brian Anderson, Joe Simpson and Eckersley seems to know anything about the Dodgers. The other two talk like they have never seen them play and say things about players that are incorrect. They either haven't done their homework or have been supplied with some bad info. My favorite was when Simpson said teams can run on Puig because he has a tendency to throw the ball all over the place. That may have been true a couple of seasons ago, but he apparently hasn't watched a Dodgers game since 2014.

The Dodgers are up 2-0, but Arizona won't go quietly.

Game 3


Yu Darvish vs. Zack Greinke

Arizona batters vs. Darvish

Iannetta, .125/.222/.125

Martinez, .182/.250/.455

Goldschmidt, .000/.000/.000

Pollock, .167/.167/.167

No other Diamondback has more than four at-bats against Darvish.

Dodger batters against Greinke

Granderson, .217/.260/.406 (Granderson has 69 at-bats against Greinke, the most of any player in the majors)

Grandal, .250/.276/.500

Utley, .231/.259/.462

Turner, .318/.348/.682

Seager, .545/.688/1.182

Forsythe, .167/.231/.167

Ethier, .222/.364/.222

Bellinger, .333/.333/.778

Puig, .167/.333/.167

Taylor, .000/.222/.000

This is why the Dodgers traded for Darvish, for the postseason. Now we will start to see if that trade paid off.

The series

Game 3: Monday, 7 p.m. PT, Dodgers (Yu Darvish) at Arizona (Zack Greinke), TBS

Game 4*: Tuesday, 6 p.m. PT, Dodgers (TBA) at Arizona (TBA), TBS

Game 5*: Thursday, 6 p.m. PT, Arizona (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA), TBS

*-if necessary

And finally

Bill Plaschke on Yasiel Puig. Read it here.

Dylan Herandez on Yu Darvish. Read it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter:@latimeshouston.

Twitter: @latimeshouston