On the eve of the National League Division Series beginning, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his club’s playoff roster was in place save for the 25th and final spot. The Dodgers were mulling over a sixth player on their bench or additional relief pitcher.
When they formally announced their NLDS roster ahead of Game 1, it included 13 position players and 12 relievers. The construction made it clear the Dodgers opted for an eighth reliever over an extra man on the bench. The beneficiary was Pedro Baez.
“I think that ultimately Pedro has been a big part of what we’ve done all year. I trust him,” Roberts explained Friday. “Arguably he’s been our highest-leveraged reliever outside of Kenley all year. So I just think it makes sense.”
Baez was put on the NLDS roster ahead of Tim Locastro, who didn’t join the Dodgers from Triple-A Oklahoma City until the final weekend of the regular season.
He was promoted and presented with an opportunity to crack the playoff roster as a pinch-runner. Locastro was inserted into simulated situations and evaluated during NLDS workouts this week. He stole 34 of 41 bases in the Minors this season and was successful on his only attempt with the Dodgers.
The elite speed threat is an element the Dodgers are devoid of. Even so, the bevy of right-handed batters on the Arizona Diamondbacks roster made passing over Baez unsuitable. “To have Petey as a match-up guy with potential, I think that gives us a big advantage,” Roberts said.
Paul Goldschmidt is a career 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts against the power righty, while J.D. Martinez is 1-for-4 with a home run and strikeout.
Baez was not among the three Dodgers relievers used in the Game 1 victory. Right-handers Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen did enter the game, and both are ahead of Baez in the pecking order.
“I think if you’re looking at highest-leverage relievers, obviously Kenley’s at the top,” Roberts said. “And I probably have Morrow behind him, with [Tony] Cingrani and [Tony] Watson from the left side.”
Baez held opponents to a .150/.292/.400 batting line and pitched to a 1.62 ERA in 6.1 innings across his first six playoff appearances last October. However, he allowed five runs to the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series, which was Baez’s final appearance.