Some people can’t handle the truth. In the second half of the season and down the stretch, Pedro Baez was the truth. It’s funny because Baez’s final numbers don’t look that differently from the rest of his career. However, it felt like Baez was a right-handed version of a shutdown reliever like Josh Hader down the stretch and in the postseason. Baez clearly harnessed something – that something I don’t know if we ever see again. The bottom line is no matter how things end up for the Baezian wonder; we will always have those days from late in the season of 2018 to remember him fondly by.
Early Season Doldrums/Demotion in June
Baez struggled and had fans barking when he opened the 2018 season with a 4.50 ERA over his first 13 games. Then, that bled into May and although he got things back on track; his role was that of a middle relief innings-eater. In fact, Baez was demoted to the minor leagues on June 6th for roster flexibility (Caleb Ferguson came up).
In late July – Baez wandered back to Los Angeles like a stray cat. Still, more of the same. He allowed a couple of runs for a 6.00 ERA in three innings pitched. But a brighter day would come.
Late Summer Breakout
In August, something flipped. There wasn’t a lot written on the subject, but Pedro Baez become a dominant reliever. He threw 12.2 innings in the month – striking out 15 batters. Baez finished August with a 2.84 ERA and season-low 0.70 WHIP. In fact, the only game he allowed a run in the entire month was in 1/3 inning of work at Coors Field on August 9th. Other than that, Baez didn’t allow a run to score the entire month.
A power fastball in the upper 90’s seemed to be the magic behind the act. Baez was not afraid to challenge hitters, and when he did they did not succeed.
By the season’s final calendar month, Baez was throwing in games more towards the back of the bullpen rather than eating innings. It was obvious the confidence in him had grown on the part of the coaching staff, and he continued to flourish.
In 10 innings in September and October, Baez allowed a lone run and a 0.90 WHIP. Again, the only run Baez allowed in the month was a home run at Coors Field on September 9th.
The Dodgers were headed for the postseason, and Pedro Baez was a fixture on the roster.
It felt like Baez was on top of his game in October against the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He threw 2.1 scoreless (and hitless) innings in the NLDS, only to follow that up with 4.1 scoreless against the Brewers. Baez struck out 10 batters in those two series combined.
There was a large fear entering the NLCS of the Brewers’ Josh Hader – but it was apparent to me that the Dodgers had a right-handed version of him in Baez.
Surely, Baez proved he was human in the World Series against Boston. He pitched well, but finally relinquished the complete dominance he displayed the final few months of the season and first two series of the postseason. Still, his 3.86 ERA in the World Series proved he was a key cog on a World Series ball club.
Baez really proved that all the times of duress with him as a Dodger were worth the joy he brought in 2018. Of course, it’s hard to say exactly what you get moving forward. Such is life – and life with Pedro Baez. There is the possibility that in his age-31 season he remains a valuable asset. Also is the possibility that we saw the best flashes of Baez we will ever see in the final days of the 2018 season. Either way, let the final scroll state that this man made his mark.
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