Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitchers started off the 2015 season quite well, leading Major League Baseball in bullpen ERA through the first month. Unfortunately, the group went on to endure multiple highs and lows, and ended 19th with a collective 3.91 ERA.
For reliever Pedro Baez, 2015 was an opportunity to get a first, full Major League season under his belt. Through the first two weeks of May, he allowed two hits and zero earned runs in seven innings pitched. After starting off the season by exceeding expectations, things took a turn for the worse.
On May 13, Baez suffered a strained pectoral muscle. He felt the injury after striking out a third batter during his appearance against the Miami Marlins. He summoned Yasmani Grandal out to the mound and was removed from the game.
An MRI the following day revealed the injury, and Baez was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Although Baez expressed confidence he would return once eligible to be reinstated from the DL, that didn’t take place until June 26.
Baez was a bit inconsistent during July and August, then struggled in September. Opponents hit .313/.477/.790 and the hard-throwing right-hander posted a 5.79 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched over 13 appearances.
Overall last season, Baez set career highs in games (52), strikeouts (60) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.6). He finished the year 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA, 2.51 FIP and 1.14 WHIP.
One of Baez’s biggest performances of the season came in perhaps the Dodgers’ most devastating loss of the season. On Sept. 15 against the Colorado Rockies, both teams competed in an extra-innings thriller.
With the score tied, 4-4, heading into the 14th inning, Baez entered the game initially as the Dodgers’ final relief pitcher available. He retired the side and took the mound in the 15th inning.
The 27 year old went on to unleash the heat behind his arm that the Dodgers are high on as Baez struck out the side. The Dodgers wound up losing as Mat Latos entered in the 16th inning and allowed a deciding solo home run.
A key figure Baez needs to improve on is his road ERA. While he posted impressive 0.94 ERA over 27 games at Dodger Stadium, Baez’s had a 6.45 ERA in 25 road appearances.
Having gained significant experience last season, Baez figures to again be a key component of the Dodgers bullpen. Along with Chris Hatcher, he is a viable option as a setup man, and/or for the seventh inning.
With his fastball that reaches the upper 90s, a key factor for Baez’s career is being able to expand and refine his arsenal of pitchers.