On Tuesday evening, the Dodgers got a win befitting of their team.
After some tight games against the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs, the Dodgers blew out the Giants 9-0, collected a seven inning shut out performance from Clayton Kershaw, and saw Joe Kelly also pitched a scoreless ninth to close it out. Everything reached base, aside from Kershaw, and Austin Barnes and Enrique Hernandez came through with clutch hits, including Kiké’s grand slam.
Barnes has been having a rough go of it since his return from the Injured List. In his last seven games, the 29 year old catcher has a .100/.154/.100 slash line. His season so far has him at .207/.313/.343/.656 with four home runs.
In more limited playing time, the other catcher Russell Martin is batting .264/.367/.363/.730. But the 36 year old will most likely not be assuming to majority of the playing time while Barnes struggles at the plate.
Meanwhile, down in AAA Oklahoma City, Will Smith is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. So far this season, the Dodgers’ prospect is slashing .292/.400/.602/1.002. and had five straight games where he hit a home run. He has 13 homers, 10 doubles and two triples.
The 24 year old catcher has spent some time in the big leagues this season, mainly filling in while Barnes was on the IL. In the six games he was with Los Angeles, Smith hit .286 with two home runs, including a walk-off, a double and a .967 OPS. Fans we disappointed when he was sent back down to Oklahoma City, thinking that even in his small sample size he had earned the right to stay in the majors.
By all metrics Smith does deserve to be with the big league team, especially with Barnes not producing at the plate. But as we’ve stated many times on this simple blog, Roberts is not one to make changes just because a player is in the midst of a slump, no matter how big. While Barnes does have an option left on his contract, he is not likely to be sent down in favor of the young catcher.
Still, the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup has become the place where rallies go to die. Once again, the Dodgers have the luxury of a huge lead in the NL West, and the rest of the offense being formidable, while those who are in those big slumps figure it out. The question remains whether Barnes, Hernandez and Chris Taylor will figure it out, and who the Dodgers would have take their place if they don’t in time for the playoffs.