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.
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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