Throughout the course of his six-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, right-handed relief pitcher Pedro Baez has endured plenty of ups and downs.
That was epitomized this past week when he entered Saturday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a bases-loaded, no outs jam and was able to get two pop-ups and a strikeout to escape without any damage to protect a 3-1 lead.
Then just a few days later on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants, Baez entered with two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied but allowed a walk-off single to Buster Posey.
Despite the rocky times he’s had, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts continues to trust Baez in high-leverage situations. He explained why that is the case, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I trust him because, No. 1, he’s obviously got stuff, elite stuff to get righties and lefties out,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Baez, whose fastball has averaged 96.5 mph over his career. “So now when you’re talking about lineups and how to navigate through lefties and righties – he’s got the stuff. And I just trust that he doesn’t let the emotion get the best of him in a certain moment in terms of trying to do too much. It’s not a knock against any other people. But I know he doesn’t run from any moment.”
In 16 games this season, Baez has pitched to a 3.71 ERA, 2.83 FIP and 0.82 WHIP with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 16 total innings.
The Dodgers’ bullpen has clearly been their biggest weakness so far this year, and the fact of the matter is that none of the team’s other relievers have done as much as Baez has over the last few years to earn Roberts’ trust.
So for better or for worse, Roberts will likely continue to go to Baez in big situations until someone else proves more capable.