When the Los Angeles Dodgers released the lineup for their game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, there was somebody missing: Yasiel Puig.
That’s because among the Dodgers September call-ups was young Joc Pederson. This wonder kid joined the club after he torched the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he won the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards, thanks to the strength of his 33 home runs, 78 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases. This record hasn’t been beaten since 1934.
Yimi Garcia, the Dodgers No. 15 prospect, also made his debut Monday night. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowed one hit and got his first Major League strikeout when Anthony Rendon whiffed on a two-strike slider.
Dodgers were trailing the Washington Nationals, 6-4, in a battle between the two best teams in the National League as he came up to pinch-hit. The 22-year-old outfielder squared off against the Nats’ veteran closer, Rafael Soriano, trying to extend a two-out rally – and win the game with one swat.
As far as Puig’s replacement is concerned, “Yasiel is always at his best when he’s patient.” Manager Don Mattingly said before Tuesday night’s game. “When he comes up to bat he just needs to be patient and get a good pitch to hit.”
“I’m more excited than nervous.” Pederson told ABC sports before the game when asked if he was nervous. “I think I’m prepared and prepared pretty well.”
Mattingly was asked before the game whether he thought Pederson and Puig would be competing for at bats throughout the remainder of the season, and if Pederson has a chance to make the Dodgers post season roster. “Maybe. Today we are trying to win a game. I think Joc is good option today,” he replied with diplomacy.
“Honestly, when you play at this level, somebody’s always coming, so you’ve got to fight ‘em all off. If you’re not doing the job, if there’s not somebody coming from the minor leagues, they’ll be looking for somebody from somewhere else. You’re at the major-league level. It’s performance-oriented. If you’re not getting the job done, they’re looking for somebody,” Mattingly said.
Nevertheless, if Pederson plays well over the next month heading into the playoffs, the chances greatly improve that Coletti makes a move to shed some of the salary, especially if they hope to join the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes.
Finally Kenley Jansen came in for the save and Pederson ended his game 1-for-3. The game brings the Dodgers within one game of the Washington Nationals for the best record in the National League and two ahead of the San Francisco Giants for best record in the NL West.