Being a catcher in the Major Leagues is often a thankless job. You can spend hours crouched down behind the plate and taking 90+mph pitches off of your chest protector without anyone ever saying a kind word about you. The Dodgers Austin Barnes is certainly no stranger to getting roughed up behind the plate.
But when Walker Buehler got done with his sparkling outing in Game 6 of the NLCS, Barnes was the first name out of his mouth. Speaking with Dodgers media after the huge win, Buehler had nothing but praise for his catcher navigating him through the game.
This sounds odd, but I’ve never felt that calm in a baseball game maybe in my career, especially in a spot like that. Barnes steered me through it, and that’s all there really is to it…the way he was able to guide me through that inning was about as good as I’ve ever seen.
Buehler went 6 innings and did not give up a single run in the Dodgers victory. He struck out 6 Braves without issuing a single walk and worked around a bunch of traffic. Buehler chalked that success all up to having Barnes guiding him behind the plate. That inning he’s talking about came in the 4th inning when Atlanta got a few guys on base. Buehler and Barnes responded by getting the next two guys out to escape the inning.
The timing on this all could not have been more ideal. The Dodgers opted to start Barnes behind the plate in favor of Will Smith DH’ing, a move usually reserved for days Kershaw pitches. But Roberts must have liked what he was seeing from Barnes at catcher, and he certainly seems to have helped Buehler get back on track.
In his last 3 outings for the Dodgers, Buehler had issued 11 total walks. Dropping that number down to 0 allowed in 6 innings was huge.
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