Dodgers: Austin Barnes continues AAA onslaught; Gyorko levels up
Ever since the Dodgers optioned Austin Barnes to triple-A Oklahoma City, the catcher has gone on an offensive tear, keeping himself on LA’s radar.
When the Dodgers optioned Austin Barnes to AAA Oklahoma City, the struggling catcher had two options. Feel sorry for himself and mope into the offseason, or battle back and fight to be the Dodgers’ backup catcher for the postseason. In the ten games that Barnes has played since being optioned, it’s become clear he has chosen to fight his way back to the big leagues.
Barnes went deep last night giving himself five straight games with a home run. It was his fifth home run with the OKC Dodgers and he now has a slash line of .342/.395/.763. That .763 slugging percentage is higher than the OPS that Austin Barnes put up in the big leagues this season. It’s clear that Barnes has found something with his swing at AAA.
While Will Smith has cemented himself as the starting catcher for the rest of the season and postseason, the backup catcher role is still very much in question. Russell Martin delivered a walk-off base hit on Wednesday, but his catching skills have diminished.
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Barnes is the better defensive catcher at this stage and Rich Hill has mentioned the pitching staff loves pitching to Austin. Anything the backup catcher provides offensively is just a bonus, which is why the Dodgers will likely roll with Barnes as the backup in October. Once rosters expand in September, Barnes is a lock to be recalled.
Jedd Gyorko moves up in his rehab stint
After starting a few games with the Tulsa Drillers, and hitting one home run, Jedd Gyorko’s rehab assignment has moved up to Oklahoma City. Last night, Gyorko started at third base for OKC and hit third in the order while going 2-5. One of those hits was a double and Jedd also drove in one run.
With Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor set to begin their rehab stints soon, Gyorko has jumped out ahead as he looks to carve out time for him to make his case for the postseason. It’s not yet clear how long Gyorko will need to rehab but the MLB rule states he can only spend 20 days on a rehab assignment. That means the clock is ticking for the Dodgers to activate Jedd Gyorko.
Whenever Jedd is activated, that will likely end the Dodger tenure of Tyler White. White is out of options and is less versatile than Gyorko. Not to mention that Tyler White has been ineffective during his time in Los Angeles both at the plate, and on defense. The Dodgers’ playoff roster competition has been going on for weeks, and Gyorko will get a chance to throw his name into the hat.