Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Confident Struggles Are ‘Going To Turn’ For Austin Barnes
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes reacts after striking out against the Boston Red Sox
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

After letting Yasmani Grandal walk in free agency during the past offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ biggest weakness was expected to be the catcher position. While they brought experience, Austin Barnes and Russell Martin were both coming off rough offensive seasons.

Now a little more than halfway through the 2019 campaign, Barnes nor Martin have been able to regain their previous form that earned both of them reputations as starting-caliber catchers.

Barnes, in particular, has been disappointing considering how great he was for the Dodgers in 2017. He has looked more like the 2018 version this season though, particularly in recent weeks after coming off the 10-day injured list.

After going 1-for-4 in Saturday night’s win over the Boston Red Sox, Barnes is just 10-for-64 (.156 batting average) in 23 games since returning. Overall in 63 games this season, he is hitting .204/.300/.348 with five home runs and 19 RBI.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is well-aware of Barnes’ struggles, but he is still confident that he can snap out of his current slump and be productive, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“Austin is really working hard,” Roberts said. “The results certainly haven’t been there since he came back from the IL. But I do believe he’s taking better swings. Where I could have said before going on the IL, he was trying way too hard and pressing, I think right now, yeah, he’s frustrated that he’s not getting hits. But I still think the at-bat quality, for me — it’s getting better. … I know the results aren’t there. I’m not blind. But I believe it’s going to turn for Austin.”

One option for the Dodgers if Barnes continues to struggle is calling up one of their top prospects, Will Smith, who is in the midst of an outstanding season with both Triple-A Oklahoma City and the big league club.

In his short time with the Dodgers this season, Smith proved that he can handle big league pitching as he hit three home runs, with two of them being of the walk-off variety.

Smith does not have the rapport with the Dodgers pitching staff or postseason experience that Barnes does though, so if the latter can just improve marginally on the offensive side of the ball then he has a strong chance of keeping his starting job at least through the end of this season.