Dodgers Pitchers Helping Will Smith Prevent Stolen Bases

A theme quickly developed for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2023 season after Major League Baseball changed rules in an effort to increase stolen base attempts, and Will Smith and the Dodgers pitching staff struggled with it early on.

The Dodgers ranked fifth-to-last in stolen bases allowed last season and very rarely caught runners stealing.

It has been a different story in 2024. The Dodgers have caught 15 runners stealing already — compared to only 29 all last season — and rank second in the Majors in that category. The Seattle Mariners (16) rank first.

Smith, meanwhile, leads all catchers by throwing out 43% of base-stealers.

Last season, Smith and the Dodgers pitching staff took a lot of heat for their struggles with baserunners. And now that they’ve turned the tide in 2024, manager Dave Roberts made sure to praise Smith for his work and compliment the pitching staff for catching up to Smith, according to Bill Plunkett of The O.C. Register:

“Nothing has changed with Will. It’s the pitchers that have gotten better at holding runners,” Roberts said.

“Will’s always been a good catch-and-throw guy. We just as a staff last year – we just didn’t do a good job of giving him a chance. Now that guys have been varying looks and quickening their times he’s been very successful.”

The advanced metrics have shown Smith’s struggles over the years in this category, but that often doesn’t account for the pitchers. Last season, pitchers struggled with the run game, including specific pitchers that did not stay on the Dodgers roster between 2023 and 2024.

This newfound success allows the Dodgers to limit damage much better. Teams would often be able to steal extra runs against L.A., leading to crooked innings and higher-scoring affairs, but that has been the case less often in 2024.

Dave Roberts: Dodgers offense running cold

The Dodgers’ struggles continued on Sunday as they dropped their fifth consecutive game with a 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Dodgers offense mustered only run on five hits in the contest, leaving four on base and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. It marked the sixth time in the last 16 games that L.A. scored one or fewer runs.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the offense has not been getting it done lately and needs to find a solution. The Dodgers’ offense has been on a downward spiral for the better part of three weeks as they are averaging only 3.5 runs over their last 17 games.

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