Success stories come in all different shapes and forms, and for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018, one of them was that of reliever Pedro Baez.
Baez had a rough end to his 2017 season, struggling in the month of September, often being booed by fans at home games. He then was left off two of the team’s three postseason rosters.
The 30-year-old went into this season looking to redeem himself in the eyes of the organization and fanbase. For a while, he wasn’t able to do that. In Baez’s first 36 appearances of the season, he pitched to a 4.14 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 37 innings.
After that point, however, Baez had a miraculous turn and for the final two months of the season, he looked like the best reliever in all of baseball.
Across his final 19 games (19.1 innings), Baez allowed just one earned run, which amounted to a 0.47 ERA. He allowed just seven hits and five walks while striking out 19.
Overall in 55 games, Baez had a career-best 2.88 ERA to go along with a 3.16 FIP and 1.23 WHIP. He struck out 62 and walked 23 in 56.1 innings.
Instead of being left off the postseason roster, this time around Baez went into the playoffs as perhaps Dave Roberts’ most reliable reliever. He continued his hot streak into the postseason, yielding a 1.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts and five walks in 11.1 innings across 10 games.
Baez had a lot of solid outings for the Dodgers down the stretch of the season, but perhaps none bigger than Game 3 of the World Series.
The Dodgers and Boston Red Sox broke a postseason record in that game by playing for 18 innings. Los Angeles ultimately came away with a 3-2 victory on a walk-off home run by Max Muncy.
With a game going that long, it was obviously all-hands-on-deck in the bullpen, and Baez provided the Dodgers two shutout innings of work.
He was able to work out of a jam as the Red Sox had runners at the corners with one out in the top of the 10th and Eduardo Nuñez at the plate.
Baez got Nuñez to hit a fly ball to center field, and then he got some help from his defense as Cody Bellinger fired a perfect strike to get Ian Kinsler at home plate to end the inning with the game still tied.
Baez is eligible for arbitration and is projected to earn $1.8 million, which would be a slight raise from 2018. If he can replicate the success he had towards the end of last season then he could slide in as Kenley Jansen’s primary setup man.