In a move which is being characterized as a strategic decision, the Los Angeles Dodgers are benching Yasiel Puig in favor of Andre Ethier for a critical Game 4 of the Dodgers’ NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly feels like Ethier will give the Dodgers a better chance of forcing a winner-take-all Game 5 in Los Angeles.
Puig not in #Dodgers’ lineup. Crawford hitting second, Ethier in center, batting sixth.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 7, 2014
Mattingly on benching Puig for Ethier: "He's healthy. It's pretty simple. I just feel like this gives us the best chance to win today."
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 7, 2014
Puig has had some noted struggles this postseason. He had seven straight stikeouts at one point and he’s batting .250 with eight strikeouts in three postseason games so far.
Ethier’s regular season batting average? .249. Ethier does have a .711 OPS against right-handers this season, which could have factored into the decision.
Still, it may not be the best idea to bench your best non-pitcher due to a sample size of a couple games. Mattingly may be out-smarting himself with the Dodgers’ season on the line.