Having lost eight games in a row and 13 of the last 14, the Los Angeles Dodgers have heard boos of late at Dodger Stadium. In particular, Pedro Baez has drawn the ire of what’s become a nervous fan base.
But on Friday night, Baez faced a situation that crossed the line from critical to cruel. He entered in the sixth inning with the Dodgers trailing the Colorado Rockies by a run. Upon being introduced as the new pitcher, the right-hander was unceremoniously showered with boos.
“I absolutely think it’s ridiculous. As passionate as our fans are, as knowledgeable, I think it’s irresponsible,” a visibly upset Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the loss.
“This is a guy who grew up a Dodger and does nothing but compete and continues to grow. That’s something that really pissed me off tonight.”
Roberts continued: “This guy is grinding and trying to find his way through things. These are our fans that come here and welcome him with boos? I think that’s ridiculous.”
Baez fell behind, 3-0, to Ian Desmond and though he battled back to work the count full, issued a leadoff walk. That further incited the crowd, and so too did a stolen base. Baez wound up striking out the side to complete a scoreless inning.
“The way he responded was outstanding,” Roberts said. “To go out there and punch the side out, good for him.”
The second-year manager has had to come to the defense of his reliever on multiple occasions of late. After Baez struggled with command during an appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberts said his success had earned him the right to a clunker.
When Baez allowed back-to-back home runs and failed to retire any of the four batters faced against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 4, Roberts gave the power righty a vote of confidence.
Baez’s once-shiny ERA is now 2.53, which is hardly egregious and would be the lowest of his career. However, Baez’s 4.63 FIP, 4.81 xFIP and 1.26 WHIP are all on pace to set career highs. Furthermore, his strikeout rate has dropped from last season’s 28.1 percent to 21.6 percent in 2017, and walk rate is up from 7.5 percent to 10 percent over that same span.