The Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to protect a late lead for a second time in as many games with the Philadelphia Phillies, the. They enter Wednesday on a three-game losing streak that’s further delayed clinching an expected fifth consecutive National League West title.
Whereas Clayton Kershaw was responsible for allowing the Phillies to come from behind in the series opener, that squarely lied on Pedro Baez’s shoulders Tuesday night. Yu Darvish went 5.1 innings and exited with runners on first and second base.
Tony Watson allowed an infield single but induced an inning-ending double play to escape the bases-loaded jam. Baez took the mound in the seventh with the Dodgers clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Facing the bottom of the Phillies lineup, he immediately ran into trouble. J.P. Crawford led off with a triple, Jorge Alfaro was hit by a pitch, and Cesar Hernandez walked to load the bases with one out.
Curtis Granderson made a tremendous sliding catch to prevent a run from scoring, but Baez offset it by issuing a two-out walk. Rhys Hoskins’ double cleared the bases, gave the Phillies a 5-2 lead, and knocked Baez out of the game.
After yet another disappointing relief appearance, Baez said he’s aware of a need to throw more secondary pitches, expressed gratitude for continued chances to pitch and vowed to work on emerging from his struggles, via Spectrum SportsNet LA:
“I’ve been having trouble with command of the fastball. I did shy away from using my secondary pitches, but I think it’s something I have to go back to. I want to be that pitcher they can use in the sixth or seventh inning. … I continue to work hard and try to do my job. It just hasn’t been a good stretch. I’m grateful they keep giving me opportunities. I’ve never been in a stretch like this, but I’m going to continue to work hard to try to get out of it.
Since a rough appearance Aug. 21 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he walked three and only retired one of five batters faced, Baez is 0-4 with two blown saves, a 12.38 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .306/.490/.667 in eight innings across 11 games.
The month of September has been particularly rough, as Baez has allowed 12 runs (10 earned) in just 4.1 innings pitched (20.77 ERA), walked seven, struck out five and surrendered three home runs. Opponents are batting .417/.563/.917 in seven games .
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has come to the defense of his embattled right-hander on multiple occasions of late. The most recent of which was after Baez was booed at Dodger Stadium upon entering a game.
Overall this season, Baez is 3-6 with a 3.17 ERA, 4.76 FIP and 1.36 WHIP in 62 relief appearances. He’s used a slider 16.5 percent of the time, which is a career high, but changeup usage is down to 10.4 percent from last season’s career-high 12.7 percent.
Baez has thrown his fastball 73 percent, which is around his career average of 74.7 percent. He has become over-reliant with the pitch during September, however, as fastball usage is at 81 percent. Comparatively, he’s thrown the slider 11 percent this month and a changeup eight percent of the time.