On the day after Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he believed it was "ridiculous" that Dodgers fans had booed Pedro Baez, the manager said the embattled reliever would retain a prominent place in the Dodgers bullpen.
"I can assure you he is going to pitch big innings for us, from now until the end of the season," Roberts said.
As the Dodgers prepare a playoff roster, Baez and Brandon Morrow appear to be the Dodgers' primary setup men.
Baez has a career-best 2.53 earned-run average, ranking seventh among National League setup men with at least 50 innings. However, the more predictive fielding independent pitching statistic — stripping out defense and focusing on walks, strikeouts and home runs — suggests his ERA should be 4.63.
After posting a 1.43 ERA before the All-Star break, he has put up a 4.66 ERA since then, giving up five home runs and nine walks in 19 innings.
He has made three appearances on this homestand. In the first, he gave up four hits — including two home runs — without getting an out. In the second, he took the loss by walking the first two batters he faced, both of whom eventually scored. On Friday, he walked the first batter, then struck out the next three.
Roberts said Friday that each fan could react as he or she wished but that he believed it was "ridiculous" and "irresponsible" that Baez was booed before he threw a pitch.
"I said what I said in support of not only Pedro but our guys, and just my thoughts on how home players should be received at home," Roberts said Saturday.
Roberts said he appreciated Dodgers fans and was in no way telling the paying customers how to act.
"I said in my opinion as a Dodger fan — and I'm a Dodger fan — that when a guy has had a tremendous year and he's had a few tough outings, to show support, I think, is more the solution than to voice your displeasure and boo," he said. "And I did say that every fan has the right to do whatever they choose.
"Just like a fan should have an opinion … I think I'm entitled to an opinion as well."
Does Roberts believe it would ever be appropriate for fans to boo a player on the home team?
"Yes," he said, "when you're not hustling. … If you're not performing, you should be booed, absolutely. Every fan has their own opinion on what that amount is, the length of [poor] performance. In some people's minds, you give up a run, you deserve to be booed. They expect players to be perfect.
"Some people, they give their home team a little more leash. I'm not telling a fan how to act. They pay. We have the best fans."
Strategy in play
The Dodgers will skip Hyun-Jin Ryu on their next turn through the starting rotation, Roberts said, meaning they could start Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday and Yu Darvish on Wednesday in San Francisco.
That would give the Dodgers the option to use Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Kershaw next weekend in Washington, with the Nationals challenging the Dodgers for best record in the National League and home-field advantage through the NL playoffs. Alternatively, the Dodgers could use Kershaw every sixth day after his San Francisco start, which would line him up for Game 1 of the division series.
That also would enable the Dodgers to keep the Nationals from seeing Darvish before a possible postseason matchup. Darvish's lone career appearance against Washington came three years ago. Nationals stars Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman never have batted against Darvish.