While Austin Barnes overtook Yasmani Grandal as starting catcher during the 2017 postseason, he fell back to a reserve role despite the Los Angeles Dodgers essentially holding an open competition heading into Spring Training this year.
But now, with the Dodgers one win from reaching the World Series for a second straight year, Barnes may again be usurping Grandal. After starting in Games 4 and 5, Barnes is set for another on Friday night.
“I think right now Austin makes sense,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the decision. “He’s having really good at-bats. Still have Yasmani’s bat off the bench is a plus with their bullpen.”
Although he had three strikeouts, Barnes helped turn around Game 5 with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
That Barnes appears to be playing his way to a starting role for a second straight October is all the more improbable considering his 2018 season. “It says a lot about his makeup. Austin is a very blue collar player,” Roberts said. “He prepares really well. His teammates gravitate towards him.”
For Barnes, the focus has been on doing whatever is asked. “Obviously it was kind of a grind from this year,” he said. “But the postseason, just put our emphasis on winning, whatever role you’re in, whether it’s not playing or not, doing anything you can to help the team win, whether it’s talking to pitchers in between starts, catching pens or just having conversations.
“I think that’s the most important thing. I think the regular season is the regular season. But this time of the year it’s all bonus games.”
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