Austin Barnes was behind the plate to catch Yu Darvish in spite of the Los Angeles Dodgers facing a right-hander in Colorado Rockies starter German Marquez on Friday. The expectation heading into this season was Barnes would primarily start against a left-hander.
He’s performed well no matter the type of pitcher, and it’s not gone unnoticed by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I love Austin behind the plate,” he said. “Austin’s at-bat quality has been very good, versus right and versus left.”
That Barnes’ latest start came one night after Yasmani Grandal had his MLB-leading 15th passed ball this season may have been more coincidence than causation, Roberts acknowledged there’s been trouble.
“The communication with the runner on second base, there’s been some cross-ups. Whether it’s the catcher or pitcher, the fact is there have been passed balls,” he said.
“Part of that is Yasmani got banged up on the thumb earlier in the season. Catching the baseball in a certain part of his glove has led to some of it, but he’s not going to make an excuse. Those are the things that absolutely are giving up bases, that have to be cleaned up.”
Comparatively, Barnes has three passed balls this season. They’ve come in 367.1 innings behind the plate, compared to Grandal’s 884.1 innings. Both excel in pitch framing, and Roberts is equally confident in his backstops, regardless of an opponent’s starter.
“It’s nice when you have two guys behind the plate that, regardless of the handedness, you feel very comfortable,” Roberts explained. “And regardless of who’s pitching [for the Dodgers], you feel comfortable that their chemistry works.”
Barnes’ versatility makes him an option to fill in at second base and third base, and though Roberts is looking for an answer up the middle of the infield, he said the team is not yet considering Barnes for a regular role at second.