Heading into the 2021 season, there seemed to be little question as to who would be the Dodgers main catcher. All signs from last season pointed to Will Smith getting the bulk of starts, even with Austin Barnes’ command of the pitching staff.
The Dodgers have Barnes as Clayton Kershaw’s designated pitcher. But he also took over in the postseason, catching the entire staff very well when called upon. The acquisition of Trevor Bauer had many wondering if that also meant Barnes could end up with more opportunities.
Roberts turned some heads this month when he was asked how he expects the two backstops to share the time back there. Doc said the Dodgers would probably run Smith out there for about 90 games this year, seeming to indicate a platoon situation. His comments in today’s pregame presser seemed to confirm that.
I feel very confident with both guys. But if you’re talking about 162 games, I would expect Will [Smith] right now to take down a few more starts than Austin [Barnes].
Barnes is having an outstanding spring with the bat. He is slashing .333/.455/.556 through 27 at-bats and has 4 extra-base hits. For the Dodgers, the knock on Barnes has never been with his glove or defense behind the plate. If he can get his bat going, it would be difficult to keep him out of the lineup.
Alternatively, it’s always hard to keep Smith’s bat out of the lineup. He tore the cover off of the ball in 2020, slashing .289/.401/.579 with 8 homeruns and 25 runs driven in during his 37 games. He was a huge part of the team’s success throughout the year, and the Dodgers have some difficult decisions to make.