Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts knows a thing or two about the importance of a pinch runner in the playoffs. His stolen base as a member of the Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series set up the tying run in game 4. The Sox were down 3-0 in the series at the time, and you all know how that turned out.
Some people call that the single greatest stolen base in Major League history, even if most of those people live in Boston. I can’t think of a better one in my lifetime.
Roberts ended up in Boston that season after being traded from the Dodgers for Henri Stanley, an outfielder who never made the major leagues. What a steal.
Obviously, Roberts knows the importance of having a burner to use, and we aren’t talking about Kevin Durant’s Twitter accounts.
Yesterday, the Dodgers called up farmhand Tim Locastro for the remaining three games and a chance to run his way onto the playoff roster. On last night’s broadcast, Joe Davis said he had been at his family’s home near Syracuse, NY before getting the call. He was painting his parents’ basement for the last month; now he’s got a shot at a World Series ring.
Locastro, drafted out of DIII Ithaca College, split time this year between Double-A and Triple-A, having a pretty solid year all around. He’s naturally a second baseman but played shortstop and all three outfield spots.
Frankly, none of that matters, he’s here to run. His .308 average with 45 extra base hits in total for 2017 is nice but what can he do on the base path?
In this Fangraphs article, Locastro hits an inside-the-park home run and has probably the best video on the internet showcasing his speed. He makes it around the bases in under 15 seconds so that guy is really moving.
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In 2017, he stole 34 bases while being caught only seven times. For his career, he’s collected 143 bags in 178 attempts over five seasons.
Scouting reports range the 25-year-old as a 60-65 grade runner, which equates to being a plus to All-Star quality player in that category. Baseball Prospectus’ report on him talked about his makeup: “Cool, low heartbeat player, quiet….”
Sounds like a pretty good pinch runner to this writer. Locastro got in the game last night but didn’t have a chance to steal. You’d better bet on him getting in both of the remaining games to at some point run as well.
It’s strange to think that a guy who probably won’t record an at-bat in the big leagues this season and isn’t on any the top prospects list has a better chance than Alex Verdugo to make the postseason roster. When it comes down to it, every roster spot is a piece of the puzzle, and it’s Roberts’ job to find the 25 that fit together best.
Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals is a more recent player that filled this role on a championship team, and he certainly had an impact in 2015. Even if they aren’t stealing bases, getting into pitchers’ heads and creating a few more mistakes for hitters to capitalize on is equally as valuable.
Only Roberts knows Locastro’s actual chances of making this team, but there probably isn’t another ballplayer alive who understands the importance of the role he is auditioning for. Trust him to make the right decision.