On Thursday, the Dodgers did something that needed to be done, but most fans didn’t think would actually happen – they optioned catcher Austin Barnes to Oklahoma City and recalled rookie Will Smith. We’ve chronicled many times how Barnes has been very good behind the dish, but terrible at the plate. His slash line of .196/.288/.328/.616 is just abysmal, and hopefully the time in Triple-A will allow him to work on getting his swing back to where he’s not just an assumed out when his turn comes up to bat.
It will interesting to watch what happens with this situation – if Smith makes the most of this promotion, or if Barnes follows in the footsteps of Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, who were both demoted mid-season and came back to help their team stronger than before. Whether Barnes or Smith is the starting postseason catcher with the other as backup, and Russell Martin left completely off the postseason roster, or if it goes back to the duo of Barnes and Martin behind the dish for their World Series run.
The Dodgers also made a trade on a Thursday, acquiring first baseman Tyler White from the Houston Astros in exchange for RHP Andre Scrubbs. That, combined with catching prospect Keibert Ruiz being promoted to Triple-A has some wondering if a bigger trade is in the works. At any rate, Barnes will be working with and sharing time with Ruiz in Oklahoma City for at least the foreseeable future.
The Dodgers are now back on the East Coast, where they are set to start a three game series with the Washington Nationals. Los Angeles last played the Nats in May, when Washington was struggling to get things going. They who came into that series with a 15-22 record, and split a four game series at Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers. The Nats now sit at 55-47, in second place, 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, and tied for first in the wild card with both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nats are lead in pretty much every offensive category by Anthony Rendon, who has a .314 BA and 22 homers. He has only three hits in his last three games, but two of them were home runs. Last year’s rookie phenom Juan Soto has been in a little slump of late, going just 5-for-28 in his last seven games.
The Dodgers will be lucky to miss Max Scherzer on this trip, who will most likely giving Hyun-Jin Ryu the most competition for the Cy Young award. Ryu will start the series off for the Dodgers, facing Anibal Sanchez. He is 6-6 on the season with a 3.80 ERA. Saturday afternoon’s game will feature Clayton Kershaw and a pitcher yet to be determined for the Nationals. Sunday will see Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg. The big righty for the Nats is 13-4 with a 3.37 ERA and 159 strikeouts.
This series should be a good test for the Dodgers, and a possible precursor to a postseason matchup. Friday’s game is at 4:05, Saturday’s is at 1:05, and Sunday morning at 10:35 PDT.