With innovative thinkers in Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi, and others in revamping the front office, the club moved away from defining roles in the bullpen outside of Kenley Jansen as closer.
It was a vision Friedman shared back in Spring Training and one that’s trickled down through the Dodgers’ Minor League affiliates. While that’s largely held true, a defined role, not injury, has prevented Pedro Baez from appearing in a game since Aug. 19.
“We don’t really have a true long guy,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said prior to Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. “Pedro ends up kind of being that long guy a little bit.” Of Baez’s 37 appearances this season, 16 have come in the eighth inning with the next-highest (10) coming in the seventh.
Baez has thrown more than one inning 13 times this season. Mattingly associated the slight shift in handling Baez is tied to Yimi Garcia being optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City back on Aug. 24. Garcia was optioned so Juan Nicasio could be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list the following day.
“Sometimes that guy is waiting until the end of the game, because if you use him then you know you don’t have anybody else left in the bullpen,” Mattingly went on to explain of Baez’s absence. “There will be more time for him.”
That time wasn’t Saturday when the Dodgers used five different relievers to throw the game’s final 4.1 innings; Jim Johnson and Kenley Jansen each threw one inning with Luis Avilan tossing 1.1 innings. Baez owns a 3.11 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, and has 45 strikeouts to eight walks over 37.2 innings.