Chances are, Pedro Baez sealed his 2017 fate in his abysmal outing last night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Baez’s 2/3 of an inning was a microcosm of his season: There was frustration and angst mixed with flashes of hope. Dave Roberts, his manager, faithfully stuck with him through all of it, but in the end, Baez flickered out and couldn’t finish, leaving behind a mess in his wake.
Baez faced seven batters. He gave up a triple, a double, walked two (including a bases loaded walk), and he hit a batter. In the end, he gave up four runs. Yes, it was painful to watch. Yes, plenty of folks questioned Roberts’ mental state for throwing Baez into the fire in a game the Dodgers led by only one run.
It was the right move at the right time.
The Dodgers are going to clinch the NL West. It’s coming. They’ve already been assured a playoff spot, and they have a small cushion in the home field advantage races. Last night’s game wasn’t critical, and it was a prime time to give Baez one last shot at redemption. He was going to start an inning against the bottom of the Phillies lineup. It wasn’t necessarily about building his confidence. If that were the case, Roberts or pitching coach Rick Honeycutt would have visited the mound in support of their embattled pitcher. Nope, this was a last chance run that Baez would have to make all by himself. He was going to have to prove to himself and the Dodgers that he could find his way all by himself.
Maybe you were done with Baez two weeks ago. Heck, a month ago. However, the Dodgers weren’t ready to give up on Baez, just like they haven’t been ready to give up on Curtis Granderson. Grandy’s case deserves its own column, but this is about Baez. My point in invoking Granderson is that Roberts kept faith in him long after many (including me) had given up. Roberts saw the Dodgers still had some time (and perhaps the FO forced his hand), and Granderson seems to be turning a corner. Up until last night, the Dodgers’ brain trust was hoping the same patience would pay off for Baez.
Well, we all know how that turned out. At least the case should be settled now, and we probably won’t see Baez until everything is a lock for the Dodgers and Baez can get in an inning or two just to try to wash these bad memories out of his head. Make no mistake, that needs to happen, because Pedro Baez may not be riding on into the postseason with his team, but he’s not riding off into the sunset either.
Pedro Baez is still going to be a Dodger in 2018, and the team will still be expecting big things from him. The Dodgers don’t yet have a strong “Bridge to Jansen”, and Baez is still in that race. He’s a long shot, but the Dodgers are still placing bets on him.
Despite what your eye test may tell you about Pedro Baez, the stat heads running things for the Dodgers see this big number: Pedro Baez has a 1.36 WHIP in 2017. Even better, he holds a 1.12 career WHIP. For comparison, Clayton Kershaw has a career 1.00 WHIP. That’s how close they are (numbers-wise), and THAT’S one big reason why they still hold out hope for Pedro.
Baez is on a one-year contract worth just over a half-million dollars. That’s a bargain to the cash-rich Dodgers, and they’ll probably negotiate him down to an even lower price after his poor showing this year. What’s not to like about taking a chance on a bargain basement, young power pitcher, who just might fill out his potential and play a pivotal role next season? The kid has the arm, and if he’s got the heart, he just might succeed.
Oh, Baez isn’t going anywhere, except perhaps, up from here.