Pedro Baez is damaged goods

It goes without saying that there isn’t a Dodger player, a Dodger beat writer (or blogger), or a Dodger fan on the planet who doesn’t absolutely love Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Not only did the extremely polite 45-year-old Naha, Japan native lead the Dodgers to their fourth consecutive National League West title in his first season as the Dodgers skipper in 2016, he was also named the 2016 NL Manager of the Year – again, in only his first season at the Dodgers helm.

But for the first time since his appointment as the Dodgers manager, something happened that, to this point, had never happened before during any of the 105 home games that he has managed. He got booed by the hometown crowd.

To be fair, there’s a pretty good chance that many, perhaps even most of those boos were directed towards struggling Dodgers right-handed reliever Pedro Baez, who has fallen from grace with Dodger fans faster than one of his signature 97-mph fastballs, which seem to be landing in the pavilion seats with increasing frequency of late.

During Monday night’s horrific 13-0 shutout of the Dodgers by the red hot Arizona Diamondbacks, Roberts brought Baez in to pitch the seventh inning of the then 2-0 game. Four batters, two home runs and two singles later, the score was 4-0, leading to Baez being removed by Roberts without having recorded an out and to a very loud chorus of boos.

Roberts’ decision not to remove struggling right-hander Pedro Baez after giving up back-to-back leadoff walks in the top of the 10th inning on Tuesday night did not go over well with Dodger fans. In fact, for the first time in his two seasons as the Dodgers skipper, he actually got booed. Both runners would eventually score in the 3-1 Dodgers loss. (Video capture courtesy of SportsNet LA)

Despite his horrible outing, Roberts told reporters immediately after Monday’s game that not only does he have unwavering confidence in Baez, he wouldn’t hesitated to run the 29-year-old Bani, Dominican Republic native right back out there again in a high leverage situation.

“I just had a conversation [with Baez] that [I] wanted to let him know that he threw the ball well, actually,” Roberts said. “There were some balls that were up, sort of out of the zone, up out over. They could have been fouled off, they could have been popped up, but they ended up going out of the ballpark. So I just wanted to make sure that his confidence doesn’t waiver. And he felt … he convinced me the way he felt good about the way he threw the baseball.

“Pedro is going to be big for us, he has been big for us, so we need him,” Roberts added.

Roberts would, in fact, run Baez back out there once again in a high leverage situation barely 24 hours later against those same Diamondbacks, this time with the score tied 1-1 in the top of the 10th inning. As you might expect, this caused Twitter to light up with comments ranging from rather humorous (including a Star Wars video clip of Han Solo uttering his famous “I have a bad feeling about this” line) to some that cannot be repeated in mixed company or with children present.

Han Solo was right.

To the surprise of no one, except maybe Dave Roberts, Baez walked the first two batters he faced – Dbacks catcher Chris Iannetta and center fielder A.J. Pollock – on eleven pitches. This prompted a mound visit not by Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, but by Roberts himself, leading the Dodger Stadium crowd of 47,039 to believe that he was going to (thankfully) remove the visibly shaken right-hander.

He did not.

And for the first time in his 105 home games, second year Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was booed by the hometown crowd for leaving Baez in. It was, in every sense of the word, awkward.

Han Solo was right again.

Even though Baez somehow managed to get Dbacks slugger J.D. Martinez – who homered off of him the night before – to ground out on a slow roller to Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, his ground out move both of Baez’s free-pass base runners into scoring position with one out. Three pitches later, Dbacks second baseman Brandon Drury – who also homered off of Baez the night before – also hit a grounder to Turner, who had no chance for a double play and decided to throw home to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring.

Turner’s decision to come home with the throw almost worked, but his throw to Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (who was responsible for the Dodgers only run with his 19th home run of the season in the fifth inning) deflected off of Iannetta’s left arm and went to the backstop, allowing both Iannetta and Pollock to score what would prove to be the winning runs in the eventual 3-1 Dbacks win, their 12th consecutive.

“[Baez’s] stuff gives me confidence as far as the velocity,” Roberts said, after the heartbreaking but perhaps predictable loss. “There’s sliders in there with good depth. The things we need to clean up is getting behind, he’s getting behind hitters. The pace is fine.

“I have confidence in Petey,” Roberts added. “Obviously you don’t want to go out there and walk the first two guys, but I thought the Martinez and the Drury at-bat, that’s the way we expect him to throw the baseball … have soft contact.”

Although Roberts continues to tell the media that he still has confidence in his struggling right-hander – as he is supposed to – Dodger fans and the media themselves are beginning to recognize that you can paint a rotten egg gold but it’s still a rotten egg.

Even with his recent struggles, there are some – including Roberts himself – who still believe that Baez is a lock to make the postseason roster. But not everyone agrees with this, especially with Dodgers top pitching prospect Walker Buehler being called up later today. Even though the 23-year-old Lexington, Kentucky native and Dodgers 2015 first-round draft pick is, in every sense, a starting pitcher, Roberts has already indicated that Buehler will be used exclusively out of the bullpen down the stretch. This most certainly puts Baez’s postseason roster lock in jeopardy, should Buehler pitch as expected. The 6′-2″ / 175-pound former Vanderbilt Commodore consistently hovers around the century mark with his fastball and has a Clayton Kershaw-like curveball, albeit from the right side.

There is no kind or gentle way to say it, but Pedro Baez is damaged goods and needs to sit, especially with the Dodgers mired in their worst slump of the season and their magic number stalled at 13, with only 24 games remaining in the regular season.

 

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14 Responses to “Pedro Baez is damaged goods”

  1. CruzinBlue says:

    I second the motion.

  2. oldbrooklynfan says:

    Baez has the most HOLDS (22) for any of the Dodger relievers. Maybe this is what Roberts is looking at. I don’t blame him, This is what what I’m looking at too, every time he comes in. It seems to me he has earn his shot. I find it surprising what is happening. Nothing seems to be going right anyway.

  3. Evan Bladh says:

    Last night’s loss can be directly pinned on Roberts. No excuses this time. He has about 10 relievers to chose from as he goes with Baez? When Baez got in trouble, which was immediate, he had only a lefty (Watson) warming up. Was Morrow not available? We are lying to ourselves if we say we aren’t worried. This is getting real ugly.

    • porch says:

      Morrow was not available and isn’t available again tonight. He had a back spasm on Sunday. So they’re smartly giving him plenty of rest so he is nice and healthy for the postseason when it matters. Not meaningless September games when they already have things locked up. Doc didn’t have a lot of great options to go to in the bullpen. Would you rather he have went with Font or Castillo who also got rocked in their most recent outings. Doc was trying to let Pedro jump back on the horse and restore his confidence. They’re playing things the right way. They have the luxury of enormous leads over everyone. They have given themselves the opportunity to rest guys and try guys out in new spots so they can have the best team possible in October. And if Turner doesn’t hit the runner with his throw Pedro gets out of that inning unscathed. Pretty hard to blame Doc. He’s not the one swinging the bats or throwing the ball.

      I’m not worried one bit. And you shouldn’t be either. All teams go through stretches like this. There is still nearly a month of regular season ball left. Lots of time for things to be straightened out. Look at this way. If you were one of the teams chasing the Dodgers and you looked up at the standings today would you be very confident about catching them? The DBacks and Indians have played perfect ball and the Dodgers have played atrocious over the last 10-12 days or so and they are still facing a huge gap to overtake the Dodgers. The DBacks magic number to win the West is 36. That’s right 36. A third more than they have games left. The Dodgers have things locked up. You can jump off the wagon if you want but don’t try and high five me in October. Fans have been spoiled by how historically good the dodgers have been. They’re playing it smart right now. Getting ready for October. Would you rather have some meaningless extra September wins or win the whole damn thing in October?

      • Evan Bladh says:

        Where to begin?

        I read about Morrow’s ailment after posting, so I get his unavailability.

        About a week ago I would have said they have it locked up. I can’t say that anymore. Too many crazy things can happen in this game. Things like playing .050 ball while your competitor rolls out 13 consecutive wins.

        Baez is a mess and has been for a while, plus he has always had the propensity to give up the long ball. Fields, Castillo (already DFA’d), Cingrani, Watson…all preferable over Baez. I don’t get how you can refer to games with AZ as meaningless. In the period of 11 days the Dodgers have given up 10 games. That’s pathetic and downright embarrassing and potentially catastrophic. Gene Mauch 64 Phils worthy. Sure, it isn’t likely that they’ll choke away the division, but man! I’ve never seen a team get so ice cold at the wrong time.

        You want to restore Baez’s confidence? Do it in a blowout game, not in extras when your trying to break the worst skid of the season.

        I particularly take offense to you challenging a fan’s allegiance when concern is voiced over letting 10 (soon to be 11) games slip away at a record pace. I’ve been following these guys since the 60s and I’ve never seen such an epic collapse. I completely understand them attempting to get players healthy and setting things up for the post season, but come on! This is really getting out of hand.

        I could go on. (e.g. Roberts repeatedely putting Granderson or Kike in the number two spot. Those guys are hitting a collective .100 there). Losing 11 of 12 and being swept in six games by our probable opponent in the NLDS is more than a bit concerning.

        • CruzinBlue says:

          Well stated, Evan. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

          I can’t even begin to understand how equating loyal Dodger fans who are disconcerted at our teams’ level of play during the past two weeks as “jumping off the wagon.” Not worried one bit, huh? The Dodgers just gave the D-Backs the one thing they couldn’t afford to give them; hope.

  4. CruzinBlue says:

    Last night was a perfect example of what I meant about “working through” team issues. Guys like Baez and Granderson, off the top of my head, being “run out there,” despite their troubles, and not helping the team much right now. Puig has hit right-handers well this year, and yet he sits? I also realize we have some guys nursing injuries, but somewhere there has to be a player ready to step up, right? As Evan mentioned; this is getting beyond ugly.

    • porch says:

      Do you value meaningless September wins over putting the best most healthiest team on the field in October. It’s smart to let guys work through problems right now and try guys in new spots. These games are meaningless. They’re trying to get guys healthy and right for October when it really counts. Plus putting guys in new positions that might pay off big time in an emergency situation down the road because they’ve already done it before.

  5. ebbetsfld says:

    I blame Doc for the loss, but for a different reason. In the bottom of the ninth after Chris Taylor singled, Roberts let Granderson who is in a terrible slump not only bat, but also swing away, when he surely should have been bunting (an art which he has command of) with Turner and Belly coming up. Instead Grandy flies out and Taylor gets cut down trying for second. To me, that’s when the game was lost!
    But don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Doc and can easily forgive him for both gaffes last night.

    • porch says:

      Actually Granderson is not a good bunter. He hasn’t laid one down since 2013. I would rather a guy swing away than striking out trying to bunt because they suck at it.

    • CruzinBlue says:

      Agreed, Dick… Doc ultimately gets a pass. But I think I’m most perplexed with the consistency in which the team keeps running Curtis Granderson on the field and batting him second. His speed doesn’t mean squat if he can’t get on base. If he were making more contact to move runners along, great. But his lack of production, if he’s in there solely for defensive purposes, is bottom of the lineup material. Given the talent this team has with their expanded roster, it’s time to bench Curtis Granderson and give others a shot. His lack of hitting and consistency is killing us.

  6. oldbrooklynfan says:

    I know no one wants to hear this, but I’m glad that the Dbacks are leaving town. Maybe the Dodgers can win some games now (hopefully enough to clinch this thing) and possibly the Dbacks will cool of by the time the season ends.

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