Austin Barnes has started five of 14 possible games so far this postseason, with four coming when Clayton Kershaw was on the mound. Of Barnes’ starts, Will Smith has also been in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup in four of them.
That may be the case again for Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night despite Walker Buehler, not Kershaw, starting. “It’s a thought,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I love both of our catchers back there.
“There’s a neutral piece of pitcher-batter, so it’s certainly on the table. I’m going to put the lineup out there I feel gives us the best chance to win.”
While the Dodgers don’t have a natural third catcher on their postseason roster — Matt Beaty can fill the role in emergency — having both Barnes and Smith in the lineup gives them the best of both worlds.
Barnes’ receiving skills and pitch-calling are well documented, and Smith has been one of the team’s better hitters. After acknowledging the team was considering starting Barnes behind the plate, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said if that is the route, Smith would be the designated hitter.
Such a decision wouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Tampa Bay Rays starter Charlie Morton has relatively even splits.
From the Dodgers’ perspective, the combination of Barnes catching and Smith also being in the lineup could outweigh having AJ Pollock, Edwin Rios or perhaps Joc Pederson at DH. Of course, it can be presumed Pederson is likely to start in left field.
Buehler credits Barnes for escaping jam
Before the Dodgers could force a winner-take-all scenario in the National League Championship Series, they needed to win a Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves. Buehler helped get them there in a dominant outing that came with a pressure-packed moment of the Braves loading the bases with nobody out in the second inning.
Buehler wound up escaping unscathed, which he gave credit to Barnes for. “Barnes steered me through it. That’s all there really is to it,” Buehler said.
“We made the pitches we needed to and got out of it. The way he was able to guide me through that inning was about as good as I’ve ever seen. … In any situation like that, and even the first hitter of the game, you have all these game plans and things you want to do or want to try and do.
“At the end of the day, Barnes has the best view of the baseball and what it’s doing out of my hand. Him and Will, I’m going to trust what they see and what they want to do more than my guess.”
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