Pedro Baez rebounded from a tough stretch to close out the regular season on a high note, and it may have earned him a spot in the playoffs when the Los Angeles Dodgers set their roster for the National League Division Series.
Manager Dave Roberts did not officially commit to as much while on a conference call Tuesday evening, but he again praised Baez. “I’m definitely confident that he’s worked out his issues,” Roberts said.
“It was a tough, I don’t know, three weeks of tough sledding for Pedro. But I think his last four outings he’s thrown the ball really well. If you look at the entire body of work, he’s had a great year.”
Baez went 0-4 with a 10.38 ERA and 2.42 WHIP in 11 relief appearances over the final month of the regular season. His once-sparkling ERA increased with each turn of the calendar.
Despite a low ERA for much of the season, Baez’s peripherals raised red flags. He pitched to a career-worst 4.44 FIP and his strikeout rate was down from last season’s 28.1 percent to 23 percent this season. During that same span, Baez’s walk rate increased from 7.5 percent to 10.4 percent.
Roberts regularly came to the defense of his embattled reliever. After Baez struggled to locate pitches in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberts said he was entitled to an occasional subpar outing because of past success.
When Baez was booed upon entering a game at Dodger Stadium but before throwing a single pitch, Roberts chastised fans for their behavior. Despite being backed by his manager, the 29-year-old continued to labor, even when facing the bottom of an opponent’s lineup.
Roberts eventually provided Baez with a mental break by having him remain in the dugout for a few games. That appears to have helped him right the ship and perhaps reclaim a role for the playoffs.