Dodgers: The Enigmatic Pedro Baez

mwittman
Oct 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning during game four of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning during game four of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Pedro Baez seems to be one of the least liked Dodger relievers in recent memory.  Although he is a setup man for a great Dodger bullpen, he always seems to be the most criticized Dodger.  Whether it is taking too long in between pitches or giving up a couple hits, the criticism from fans comes in at light speed on days he pitches.

Admittedly whenever I hear Pedro Baez’s name I think of David Wright knocking in a couple runs in the Dodgers’ 2015 Divisional Round against the Mets.  A lot of this has to do with the fact that Baez is always pitching in high leverage late-inning situations.

If he were to come in during the fifth or sixth inning and gave up a run it wouldn’t be viewed as critical as him coming into the seventh or eighth inning and allowing a few runs to score. Outside of a couple bad playoff stints, Pedro Baez has been arguably one of the top setup relievers in baseball.

More impressive is the fact that Baez has only been a reliever in the majors for three seasons so he is far from a finished product.  Originally he was a third baseman in the Dodgers’ organization before his hitting ability became a major weakness.  He was then converted into a reliever like Kenley Jansen.

Here are the season stat lines for Pedro Baez’s first three major league seasons:

2014  2.63 ERA  .188 opponents’ batting average  0.88 WHIP

2015  3.35 ERA  .247 opponents’ batting average  1.14 WHIP

2016  3.04 ERA  .195 opponents’ batting average  1.00 WHIP

All three of Baez’s seasons have been pretty solid. His batting average allowed has always been under .250, with it being under .200 for two of his seasons, which is pretty elite. To get a better idea of what championship teams’ setup men have put up statistically, here are the stat lines for the primary eighth-inning setup men for the last two major league champions in the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals:

Greg Holland, 2015: 3.83 ERA  .239 opponents’ batting average  1.46 WHIP

Hector Rondon, 2016: 3.53 ERA  .225 opponents’ batting average  0.98 WHIP

Statistically, Pedro Baez had a better 2016 season than Hector Rondon, who was actually the Cubs’ closer until they acquired Aroldis Chapman before the trade deadline. He was also better than Greg Holland was in 2015, when he was the closer on the Royals, before losing the job to Wade Davis. Pedro Baez can not only get righty batters out, but he can also get left-handed hitters out. As evidenced by his opponents’ batting average to left-handed hitters of .179, .255, and .160 in his first and only three regular seasons.

More from LA Dodgers News

Pedro Baez certainly isn’t perfect, however, and one of the issues he does need to work on is speeding up the amount of time he spends in between pitches.  According to Fangraphs, Baez had spent the longest time in between pitches in 2016 at 30.2 seconds. By taking forever to get the next pitch across the plate, the Dodgers’ position players can be lulled to sleep and allow what would normally be an easy play, to get by them since they will not be as fast to react.  Major League Baseball has been experimenting with a pitch clock in the minor leagues and if it were ever to be implemented at the major league level, it would be one way to get Baez to work on his pace of play issues.

Next: The latest updates on Corey Seager and Andre Ethier

Outside of his pace of play issues, Pedro Baez remains one of the best setup relievers in baseball and should only get better as he gains more experience. If he can further develop his off-speed pitches to pair with his blazing fastball that consistently reaches 96 to 97 miles per hour, then he could be a special weapon in the seventh or eighth inning.  While Dodger fans will probably continue to bash him, since he always pitches in high leverage situations, it is also time to realize that Pedro Baez is a top-tier setup reliever.

facebooktwitterreddit