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.

 

Advertisements

Dodgers Bullpen: Still No Solutions for an Otherwise Shoddy Relief Crew

maeda3

Many followers of the Dodgers hoped the addition of veteran reliever Ryan Madson would bolster the team’s relief corps just a little bit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case—at least not yet. Since returning from the DL because of nerve irritation in his lower back, Madson has made four appearances—one for the Nationals (before he was traded) and three for the Dodgers. In 3-1/3 innings of work, the righty has surrendered  five hits (one of which was a long ball) and a walk, resulting in three earned runs. Despite his heater sitting in the 94-95 MPH range, he still hasn’t been able to find any mojo from his former self from a long time ago.

Continue reading “Dodgers Bullpen: Still No Solutions for an Otherwise Shoddy Relief Crew”

Who Should Be Closing for Dodgers?

maeda3

Aside from the whole clutch performance thing we discussed yesterday, the most glaring weakness of the Dodgers has undoubtedly been the bullpen, especially at the back-end. Kenley Jansen may be at a point where he’s deemed undependable. In the meantime, though, who should be the closer, at least until Jansen figures things out?

Continue reading “Who Should Be Closing for Dodgers?”

Suddenly, the Outlook of the Dodgers Bullpen Doesn’t Seem So Gloomy

Kenta Maeda
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Sometimes, all it takes is an 11-1 drubbing of another contending club to quickly change a fan’s perspective about the direction of their favorite baseball team. When an offense works according to the way it was specifically designed, it takes a huge amount of pressure off a pitching staff, especially a bullpen which has struggled mightily over the past week. And, with the news that closer Kenley Jansen‘s healing progress has been accelerated, the immediate future of the Dodgers doesn’t seem so dismal after all.

Continue reading “Suddenly, the Outlook of the Dodgers Bullpen Doesn’t Seem So Gloomy”

Dodgers Bullpen: A Look at 3 Emerging Relief Pitchers on the Farm

alvarez3
(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis/MiLB.com)

Considering the recent struggles of the Dodgers bullpen, there’s bound to be a number of moves on the horizon, even before rosters expand at the beginning of September. Besides the collapse of every available arm in the current crew, there’s been plenty of other news, most specifically the back injury to righty Ross Stripling and yet another setback for hard-throwing right-hander Josh Fields.

Continue reading “Dodgers Bullpen: A Look at 3 Emerging Relief Pitchers on the Farm”

Dodgers Worst Enemy: An Anemic Offense or a Second-Rate Bullpen?

la-times
(Los Angeles Times photo)

Believe it or not, some people saw a bit of logic when the Dodgers ignored their suspect bullpen while trying to upgrade their offense at the non-waiver trade deadline last month. After all, there were some internal moving pieces which would improve the relief corps, and the addition of two of the best available offensive weapons would seemingly allow the squad to slug its way into the postseason.

Continue reading “Dodgers Worst Enemy: An Anemic Offense or a Second-Rate Bullpen?”

Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on an Otherwise Shoddy Bullpen

bp
(Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

It’s all that everyone’s been talking about—with good reason. What many followers of the Dodgers have considered to be the team’s biggest weakness all year long is finally proving to be true. It took an illness from the team’s All-Star closer to prove, but what folks are now learning is that Kenley Jansen was the single cog which was seemingly holding the entire Los Angeles relief corps together.

Continue reading “Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on an Otherwise Shoddy Bullpen”

Dodgers Offense Will Need to Carry Depleted Pitching Staff

img_2605

The Dodgers are facing a tough road to make it back to the World Series. With the loss of Kenley Jansen, a starting rotation not always looking as sharp as they could be (see Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda), and very close divisional race, the next few months are going to be interesting indeed.

Continue reading “Dodgers Offense Will Need to Carry Depleted Pitching Staff”

Dodgers’ Bullpen Faces Challenges Without Jansen

img_2596
(Mandatory Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers‘ pitching staff has been hit with a lot of injuries this year, but none as serious as the latest. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen is expected to miss about a month due to an irregular heartbeat.

Continue reading “Dodgers’ Bullpen Faces Challenges Without Jansen”

Dodgers 25-Man Roster: A Few More Random Notes on the Bullpen

usa_today
(Photo Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

There’s a good chance the current bullpen of the Dodgers will get a bit of a makeover before playoff time, assuming that the team is indeed able to secure a spot in the 2018 postseason. It could be accomplished by utilizing injured players like Josh Fields, Julio Urias or Hyun-Jin Ryu, or management may be able to find a way to orchestrate a waiver trade before the end of August. Furthermore, there will be a few starting pitchers left over come playoff time, conceivably allowing several arms like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood or even Kenta Maeda to throw in relief down the stretch.

Continue reading “Dodgers 25-Man Roster: A Few More Random Notes on the Bullpen”