2022 NLDS: Chris Taylor Was Available, But Dodgers Preferred Austin Barnes Against Josh Hader In Game 2

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had asserted Chris Taylor made a full recovery from a recent neck injury, and explained Miguel Vargas was on the postseason roster due to his “hit tool,” yet the team turned to Austin Barnes as a pinch-hitter against the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Rather than allow Cody Bellinger to face Josh Hader with the tying runs on base and two outs in the eighth inning, Barnes was sent up to bat. The decision was interpreted as Taylor not being healthy enough to play and the moment potentially being too large for Vargas in what would have been his postseason debut.

But instead, Barnes pinch-hitting for Bellinger was simply the Dodgers’ preference.

“Hader is tough on anyone, but I just felt that Austin’s short swing, it’s a flat path,” Roberts explained after his club’s 5-3 loss.

“Hader throws the four-seam fastball. C.T. has a swing that’s more uphill. Austin has had success against Hader. He has seen him as much as anyone has. He took two good swings.”

Barnes flied out to end the inning, and the Dodgers stranded Freddie Freeman’s two-out double in the ninth.

Bellinger went 1-for-3 in the loss, but in the NLDS thus far has four strikeouts in six at-bats. During an April 2019 game in Milwaukee, Bellinger robbed Christian Yelich in the eighth inning and clubbed a go-ahead homer off Hader in the ninth.

Bellinger became the second left-handed batter to ever hit a home run against Hader and just the third player to do so when behind in a two-strike count.

Meanwhile, Roberts reiterated Taylor is healthy and said he will be in the Dodgers lineup for Game 3 when they face Blake Snell. Trayce Thompson will slide over to center field and Bellinger will be benched.

Austin Barnes stats vs. Josh Hader

Including the postseason, Barnes is a career 1-for-7 with one RBI and three strikeouts against Hader.

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