“Guess who’s back…back again. Shady’s back! Tell a friend!” - Eminem, “Without Me”
In an astounding turnaround, the Los Angeles Times’s Andy McCullough is reporting that the Dodgers are planning to recall Yasiel Puig from Triple-A this weekend. Puig was demoted at the end of July to make room for Josh Reddick, despite hitting .308/.390/.440 since getting healthy near the end of June, signaling that the Dodgers’ management had lost patience with the talented but injury-prone and enigmatic slugger.
There were indications that Los Angeles had moved on for good. They placed him on trade waivers in August and were entertaining offers for him both before and after the trade deadline. There were reports that he would never play for the Dodgers again, especially after he posted video of partying with teammates in Des Moines (literally the most turnt up anyone has ever gotten in Des Moines).
But a lot can change in a month. The Giants’ August struggles have dropped them two games behind the Dodgers in a dogfight for the NL West crown, which would allow the winner to skip the randomness of the Wild Card game. At the moment, the Dodgers have a 97.1% chance of making it to October, according to Baseball Prospectus, but a 79.2% chance of taking that division.
Meanwhile, Puig spent his month of exile raking to the tune of .348/.400/.594 with four homers in 75 plate appearances in Oklahoma City. And Reddick totally fell apart, hitting just .161/.223/.172 with no homers in 94 plate appearances. With Andre Ethier not able to return for at least another couple of weeks from his broken leg, the Dodgers definitely need help in the outfield, and Puig is the only one capable of giving them a shot in the arm.
The only question is whether the Yasiel Puig who returns from Oklahoma will be any more palatable to Dave Roberts, Andrew Friedman, and Farhan Zaidi than the one who left. Maybe he had an epiphany and has decided to take himself and his situation more seriously. Maybe he has purge the qualities that annoyed his bosses and teammates. Frankly, I’m doubtful.
But Puig may not be long for the Dodgers either way (he’s a prime candidate to get dealt this offseason), and there’s no doubting that he is an explosive talent, capable of taking over games and lifting the Dodgers to that title. And he’s certainly no good to the Dodgers if he sits out the rest of the month. So he’s worth the risk. And if it all goes south again? Well, he doesn’t have to be on the playoff roster, does he?