As the end of the regular season draws near, the Cleveland Indians are getting some timely production from their marquee deadline acquisition.
When Yasiel Puig was traded to the Cleveland Indians at the July deadline, one couldn’t help but envision at least a dozen heat-seeking rockets finding their way onto Progressive Field’s Home Run Porch.
Oddly enough, Puig has left the yard just twice since taking over as the Tribe’s everyday cleanup hitter, and both instances took place on the road. Normally this would qualify as disappointing, and Puig’s showing in August admittedly left something to be desired.
He slashed just .253/.327/.404 over 110 plate appearances with a 90 wRC+. These aren’t terrible numbers, but the Indians needed a game-changing bat, not a serviceable one.
Something appears to have clicked for the right fielder since the calendar turned to September. He’s slashing .368/.448/.439 this month with four doubles and nine runs scored. He has reached base safely in every game, and has only failed to record a hit in two.
None of Puig’s 18 RBIs in an Indians uniform meant more than the one he drove in with a walk-off wall-scraper to defeat the Tigers in extra innings on Wednesday night. He has been especially electric in this series, with seven hits in 10 plate appearances.
If Puig’s recent form is any indication of how he’s going to finish the season, the Indians have to feel much better about their chances to win out (or come close to it) and barrel their way into the AL Wild Card Game.
Even in the immediate aftermath of Puig’s arrival in Cleveland, the Indians seemed to very much lack that imposing force in the cleanup spot once occupied by Edwin Encarnacion. Now they have it again.
The home runs are in there somewhere, but as long as Puig keeps driving the ball and getting on base, he’s providing an invaluable presence in the middle of the order and making it more difficult to pitch to Carlos Santana before him.
Saddle up for the final 10 games. The Wild Horse has fled the stable.