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Dodgers: Is Yasmani Grandal Just Worn Out?

Dodgers
Oct 12, 2018; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) scores during the third inning around Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) in game one of the 2018 NLCS playoff baseball series at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If you are a Dodgers fan, you know how frustrated everyone is with the performance of Yasmani Grandal. It seemed like all year he had issues behind the plate, and those came to a boiling point in game one of the NLCS. Grandal committed two official errors and allowed a passed ball. Kershaw ended up allowing four earned runs on it, but it probably should have been more like two.

Not only that, but Grandal has looked absolutely lost with a bat in his hands.  He only has two hits in the entire 2018 playoffs and has played the role of momentum killer on several occasions. Most recently, Grandal grounded into an inning-ending double play in game two with the bases loaded. It was also a bad pitch to swing at ahead in the count. So what the heck happened to the guy who got a few MVP votes in 2016?

The most noticeable difference in Grandal is that he has played way more innings behind the plate this year than in any year before. In 2015, Grandal logged 884 innings as a catcher across 107 games. In 2016, that jumped to 954 innings over 115 games. Another jump in 2017 put him at 999 innings in 117 games. And in 2018, Grandal put up 1037 innings in 135 games. So the most obvious answer to his woes is that he is simply exhausted.

Catching is no easy task, especially when you spend 100+ games getting beat up and bruised with all of that weight always on your legs. It’s a tough gig, no doubt. And Grandal is finally starting to to show the ill effects of a season of hard work. Part of this has to do with the team’s lack of major league ready depth at the position. Austin Barnes only logged 61 games behind the plate and has not been enough of an offensive weapon to warrant a change of the guard.

Barnes hit a measly .205 in the regular season. He hit four homeruns and saw his offense take a huge hit from a very productive 2017 campaign. His strikeout rate skyrocketed and his average exit velocity sat at a very low 87.9 mph. So even when he was making contact, the ball wasn’t hit very hard at all. With Kyle Farmer not an option for the team at catcher, that left Grandal with a full-time job.

Looking Ahead

Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Grandal is likely going to play the bulk of the games moving forward simply because Barnes cannot produce. He may get one or two games off for the rest of the playoffs, but I can guarantee he will still be in there almost every game. Hold onto your butts Dodgers fans, it might get a little bumpy.

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

10 Comments

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  1. No hes not worn out, hes never been good. Dropped balls, passed balls for years. Dont know why Farmer didn’t get a chance this year. At this point, Barnes will at least play better defense while Grandal is hitting .150 with zero sacrifices. No brainer, Barnes the rest of the way.

    • Based on all of the advanced metrics, he rates higher than some of the best catchers in the league in defense and offense. His Defense Wins Above Replacement in 2017 was ridiculously good, almost the exact same as Yadier Molina. So he has been very good as a Dodger, this year just got to him.

      I do agree with Farmer though, they must have really not liked what they saw from him behind the plate to justify not giving him a chance at all.

    • John, I fully concur, an as I stated on another blog, his 24 HR’s this year in NO WAY make up for the rest of his awful performance behind the plate. AND HE STRUCK OUT 3 times last night and if I recall twice with the bases full…enough is enough!

  2. He has led the NL in passed balls for 3 of the last 4 years, and his inability to catch and tag a runner at the plate is inexcusable. He simply is not light enough on his feet to keep the ball in front of him. And after a misplayed ball he always tugs at his mitt as if its the mitt’s fault. His inconsistent bat and below par defense is painful to watch.

  3. Talk about rally killer. He came up twice with bases loaded less than 2 outs, 1K and hit into DP. Came up w. runners 2nd and 3rd, BOOM!!! Strikeout. He must of been the worst hitter all season long with risp and less than 2 outs. He always seemed to come up with a runner on 3rd, less than 2 outs and yah, STRIKEOUT.

  4. John, I fully concur here… His 24 HR’s this year in no way make up for his awful showing behind the plate all year long and especially last night. He struck out twice with bases full and of course the error and passed balls were a killer for this team. Enough is enough as far as Granny is concerned.

  5. As John was saying, not sure why Farmer didn’t at least get a little look at earlier. And spot on about his inability to catch a ball thrown to him and tag a runner out at home. But the good news is HE WILL BE IN ANOTHER UNIFORM in 2019.

  6. But let us not forget…last night’s 14 strikeouts were not all on Grandal. It was a sad offensive night, all around. 🙁

  7. At the catcher position defense is way more important than offense. I would continue to play Barnes unless a pitcher does better w Grandal. Going forward we have some really good catching prospects about a yr away so in the off season we need to get a veteran catcher with 1or 2 yrs of contract. Let him and Barnes play through until the young guns are ready to take over.

  8. He is a little tired but it’s mostly an ego problem. Selfish players don’t come up big when it counts, they hit solo homers or contribute to their lines during garbage time. Yaz’s game has always been better when things are going well for him, not so much the team.

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