Dodgers Bullpen: Pedro Baez Has Finally Arrived

Although it took many years of patience from Dodgers management alongside endless moments of booing from the Los Angeles faithful, Pedro Baez has finally emerged as one of the club’s most trustworthy relievers.

Saturday night’s 1-1/3 innings of relief may have been one of his most impressive appearances to date. Although he walked one batter, he didn’t allow a single hit, shutting down the Brewers when the Dodgers needed it the most. Some pundits believe that it’s the effectiveness of his slider and changeup that has made the difference, but to me, it certainly appears that his self-confidence has elevated his game tremendously. He’s not pensive in the least—he wants to be given the ball in the game’s most critical moments, it seems.

“’I feel good to have won their confidence,” Baez told reporters recently. “I feel good. I just got to keep working every day and pushing to move forward.”

A converted third baseman, Baez made his big league debut in 2014 when he was equipped with a fastball that was a straight as an arrow and a slider that was very rough in composition. Scouts were impressed with his heat, though, so much so that he became a regular part of the relief crew the following year. Over the past few seasons, there were indeed some rough points, so many that a number of folks close to the club wondered when the team would cut ties with the 30-year-old righty.

His 2017 campaign seemed to show a bit of improvement, yet his peripheral numbers were still on the downside. Despite his 2.95 ERA, his FIP was an ugly 4.44 and his walk rate was still astronomically high at 4.1 BB/9. Still, knowing his ceiling was definitely on the high side, management stuck by him. The only question was if the investment would ever pay off. Many followers thought not.

“We felt strongly that this version of Pedro Baez was the best we had ever seen,” Dodgers’ boss Andrew Friedman said at the time. “And as we’re saying that to ourselves he was struggling. But just believing in his makeup, his right arm, and the weapons that he possessed at that time, we felt confident that he would get through it.”

Although Baez gave the impression of being the same shell of himself through most of 2018, he began to dramatically turn things around during the latter part of the summer. While he had a 4.14 ERA through early August, he posted a 0.38 ERA from August 13 until the end of the regular season. What’s more, from September 11 through the final regular-season game on October 1, the righty didn’t allow a single run while only allowing three hits. During that stretch, some argued that he was the most successful reliever in the majors.

As far as the 2018 postseason goes, Baez has already made four key appearances between both the NLDS and the NLCS. Through those four games, he has thrown 4-2/3 innings, striking out five while allowing just two walks and one hit. As the latter part of the NLCS approaches, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s used in the highest leverage scenarios, perhaps even throwing in the high-stress eighth-inning hold situations.

It’s quite remarkable how much things changed over the course of a single year. Although he was a member of the 2017 NLDS roster, he didn’t throw a single pitch in the series. Subsequently, he was left off the NLCS roster against the Cubs and the World Series roster against the Astros.

Yet, as well as his secondary pitches have emerged to compliment his fastball, he’s equipped with one other weapon that will be enormously valuable in his efforts moving forward—belief in his own personal ability to succeed.

 

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5 Specific Things Dodgers Fans Should Watch Throughout 2018 NLCS

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For some fans, it already seems like an eternity since their beloved Dodgers have actually played a game. The club’s victory in Game 4 on Monday afforded the squad a very much deserved three full days of rest before setting their sights on Milwaukee and the NL Central champion Brewers. Nevertheless, the time has finally arrived for both teams to commence battle. Heading into Friday’s opener, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight five potential storylines which Los Angeles fans should keep an eye on as the series progresses.

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A Few More Random Thoughts Ahead of the 2018 NLCS

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As the Dodgers embark upon the next stage of their 2018 postseason quest, the landscape seems to be in great shape in terms of team dynamics, as the squad will have three full days to recover before firing the engines back up in Milwaukee.

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Braves Edge Dodgers in NLDS Game 3

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Unlike the relative monotony of the first two contests, Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday evening had plenty of action for fans of both clubs to appreciate. Ultimately, it was Atlanta who prevailed, as the Braves secured a 6-5 victory and forced a Game 4 on Monday afternoon in Atlanta.

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Ryu, Dodgers Cruise Past Braves in NLDS Opener

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The Los Angeles offense got its motor running early in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday night when Joc Pederson took Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz deep to center field in the bottom of the first inning. From there, it was a night of domination for the NL West Champs, as the Dodgers blanked the Braves, 6-0.

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Dodgers 2018 Playoff Roster Projections: First Edition

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During their quest for their sixth consecutive National League West crown, the Dodgers certainly made good use of the expanded roster, as plenty of players were given numerous opportunities to prove their respective values down the stretch run of the regular season. At first glance, many fans thought the process of determining the team’s 25-man playoff roster would be a difficult one; however, aside from a few bubble players, most of the decisions should be relatively easy.

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Dodgers Handle Giants, Force Divisional Playoff with Rockies

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A sixth consecutive division title is still indeed within the grasp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Dodgers Clinch Playoff Berth as Offense Surges Past Giants

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With just a single game remaining on their regular season schedule, there are still a number of different scenarios which can affect the Dodgers‘ postseason destiny. But with their 10-6 win on Saturday afternoon against the Giants, Los Angeles is guaranteed at least one game in the month of October.

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Dodgers’ Postseason Destiny Still Completely Undecided

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(Getty Images photo)

The good news is that the Dodgers still control their postseason destiny, at least in terms of a Wild Card appearance. And the other-semi-good news is that the Rockies are hosting a Nationals club this weekend who have won three straight games, unlike another NL East club who laid down for four straight this week in Denver. But the bad news is the Dodgers could find themselves in a one-game playoff at the beginning of next week or even staying home altogether should they not take care of business this weekend in San Francisco.

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Dodgers Bullpen: Narrowing the Squad Down to the 8 Best Relievers

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As there’s still a ton of work to be done before a playoff spot is secure, the Dodgers can at least take solace in the fact that they control their own destiny, while not needing to depend on anyone else for help during the final few regular season games. That being said, the magic number is five with five games remaining on the schedule—two more against the Diamondbacks and three against the Giants in San Francisco. They won’t be easy contests by any means, but at the same time, Los Angeles certainly has the talent to win all five if they need to.

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