Without Kenley Jansen because an irregular heartbeat forced him to the hospital, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts forced to shuffle his bullpen in Thursday’s series opener against the Colorado Rockies.
Furthermore, Roberts explained J.T. Chargois was unavailable due to usage, and Dylan Floro was only able to pitch if he entered immediately after warming up. So Pedro Baez found himself in the game, pitching with a 3-1 lead the Dodgers had just taken in the top of the seventh inning.
Baez allowed a leadoff single to Nolan Arenado, walked David Dahl with one out, and gave up a flare single to Ian Desmond that loaded the bases.
A cross up between Baez and Yasmani Grandal resulted in a wild pitch and the Rockies scoring a run to cut the Dodgers’ lead in half. Chris Iannetta then put Colorado ahead with a three-run home run, and Baez’s night was done.
Following his club’s exhilarating win, Roberts explained why he’s continued to call on Baez while also putting a responsibility on him to succeed, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Baez has had three or four days off. That’s a spot for him that he’s got to go out there and get outs. The last couple of outings he’s thrown the ball pretty well. The walk to Dahl, you’ve got to go out there and get outs. … This is a game about results. When you get opportunities, you look at guys in our ‘pen that have pitched well in big spots, there’s a lot to be said for that. … When he does get opportunities, like everyone else, you’ve got to capitalize.”
Baez was picked up by Cody Bellinger tying the game with a two-run home run in the eighth, and Chris Taylor and Brian Dozier each going deep in the ninth to cement a comeback win. The Dodgers’ five home runs in the seventh inning or later tied a National League record.
While he possess the talent of throwing a fastball that hovers in the high-90s, Baez has regularly struggled to pitch with consistency. Regardless, he’s been regularly trusted in high-leverage situations.
Baez was booed off the field at Dodger Stadium during a particularly rough stretch last season, which Roberts lambasted fans for. In May of this season, Roberts said he felt for his embattled reliever after Baez took a loss to the Miami Marlins.
In comparison to his comments made Thursday night, Roberts recently praised the likes of Scott Alexander and Chargois for taking advantage of their respective opportunities.