While Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez has a fastball that hovers in the mid-to-upper 90s, the time between each of his pitches hardly matches the velocity in which he delivers them to the plate.
With Carlos Frias landing on the 15-day disabled list due to lower back tightness, the Dodgers opted to go with a bullpen game Monday in the four-game series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. Yimi Garcia got the start and tossed 43 pitches over two innings. Minor-League call-up Eric Surkamp took the ball in the third and five more relievers followed him.
Among them was Baez, who gave up a leadoff double in the seventh inning. Baez later walked two batters and allowed the Phillies to take a one-run lead on a sacrifice fly. He was removed after two-thirds of an inning in what finished as a four-hour and 13-minute game.
Baez was also the subject of a meeting with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “It seemed like 30 seconds between every pitch,” Mattingly said prior to Tuesday’s game. “That’s rough. I said, ‘If you were playing third base, you’d be going crazy.’ It’s just tough on guys.
“To me it shows a lack of confidence in what you want to do,” Mattingly added. “I’ve played behind guys like that. They walk around and they wait around. To me, you give the hitter a chance to think and you let him settle down. Whatever count he’s in, everything kind of slows down for him. Guys that get the ball, that are in your face, throw a strike and then are back in your face, to me, are tougher.”
While Mattingly addressed the issue with Baez, he’s also mindful of his reliever’s tendency to work at a slower speed. “His tempo’s always been a little slower so you don’t try to force that,” Mattingly said. “But 30 seconds is a little over the top.”
Major League Baseball implemented a countdown timer between innings and a rule mandating batters to keep one foot in the box between pitches, with exceptions including foul balls, wild pitches, and timeouts being granted. Both rules are loosely enforced.
The Dodgers were warned last season over pace-of-game issues when it was determined multiple relief pitchers were taking too long to get from the bullpen to the mound. It isn’t believed the club has received a similar warning this season.