While there isn’t one specific explanation or reason for the freefall the Los Angeles Dodgers are in, Pedro Baez has worn the brunt of fans’ frustration. He struggled in an appearance against the Arizona Diamondbacks and was booed upon being removed from the game.
Baez surrendered back-to-back home runs and failed to retire any of the four batters faced. He allowed two unearned runs the following night, then was showered with boos when announced as the new pitcher last Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers manger Dave Roberts, usually even-keeled, was aggravated by the fans’ treatment and had harsh words for those who were in attendance at Dodger Stadium.
Further removed from the night of the critical treatment, Roberts proclaimed Baez will play a key role for the team moving forward, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“I can assure you he is going to pitch big innings for us, from now until the end of the season,” Roberts said.
Roberts previously came to Baez’s defense after he stumbled in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates last month. He argued the right-hander had earned the benefit of the doubt considering previous success.
After the subpar performance against the Diamondbacks, Roberts reiterated his unwavering trust in Baez. The 29-year-old yields a 2.53 ERA that was under 2.00 through August. Opponents are batting just .153/.265/.403, but with four doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 walks and 20 strikeouts in 83 plate appearances during high-leverage situations.
Baez’s peripheral statistics suggest he’s a reliever who’s not quite fared as well as a shiny ERA may suggest. His 4.63 FIP, 4.82 xFIP and 1.26 WHIP are each career-worst marks.
What’s more, his strikeout rate has dropped from last season’s 28.1 percent to 22.5 percent in 2017, and walk rate is up from 7.5 percent to 10.2 percent over that same span.
Nonetheless, Baez figures to receive his share of opportunities to contribute, whether down the stretch of the season or in the playoffs. What may change, however, is what innings he’s utilized, as Roberts has shown trust in Brandon Morrow for late-game situations.