A look back at the 2015 season of Pedro Baez, who was an essential part of the Dodgers bullpen all year long, until performance waned in October.
What went right
Pedro Baez made the opening day roster and lasted all year long in the majors, both for the first time in his career. By most reasonable accounts he had a productive season in the Dodgers bullpen, putting up a 3.35 ERA and 2.51 FIP in 52 games.
Baez had nine straight scoreless appearances from April 24 to June 26, with 15 strikeouts and one walk during that span, to give him a 1.65 ERA at that point.
He struck out 60 and walked 11 in his 51 innings on the season, sporting a 28.9-percent strikeout rate. Baez's 23.6-percent K-BB% ranked 18th among the 160 relief pitchers in baseball with at least 40 innings in 2015.
Not bad at all for anyone, let alone someone in just their third year of pitching as a professional.
What went wrong
Baez missed six weeks with a strained pectoral muscle in May and June.
His 16 doubles allowed were most among Dodgers relief pitchers.
Baez had two ninth-inning save opportunities and blew them both, on April 23 against San Francisco and Aug. 2 against the Angels.
Unfortunately for Baez, his season will likely be remembered for his Game 1 appearance in the NLDS against the Mets. Down 1-0, Baez faced David Wright with the bases loaded and two outs. Though bringing in closer Kenley Jansen or Chris Hatcher for the pivotal moment were likely better choices, the call for Baez in that situation was certainly defensible, with right-handed batters hitting just .245/.282/.396 against him.
It didn't work, as Wright singled home two runs, providing New York a larger cushion that proved needed in a 3-1 Mets victory.
Being a reliever isn't always fair. Tom Niedenfuer was a stellar workhorse for four seasons and had a great year in 1985, but he'll always be remembered for surrendering winning home runs in consecutive games in the NLCS to Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark.
Jonathan Broxton was one of the premiere relievers in baseball for 4-5 years, but his legacy is colored more by Matt Stairs and Jimmy Rollins than anything Broxton himself every did.
Baez has thrown gasoline on the fire in two straight NLDS Games 1, also allowing a three-run home run to Matt Holliday in 2014 in the seventh inning of a game the Dodgers lost by one. Baez followed up his 2015 Game 1 performance by not recording an out in Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing all three runners he faced to reach base and, eventually, score.
Will those failures define Baez, or will more experience on the mound allow him to write more chapters and a better ending to his own book.
Stats: 4-2, 3.35 ERA, 3.17 FIP in 52 games, 60 K, 11 BB, 0.2 rWAR, 1.1 fWAR
Game of the year
Game 1 of the NLDS wasn't the first time in 2015 Baez was asked to rescue Clayton Kershaw with two outs and the bases loaded. On May 10 in Colorado, Baez entered with two outs in the sixth inning of a 5-5 tie and struck out Troy Tulowitzki to end the threat. Baez also pitched a scoreless seventh inning and picked up the victory in a 9-5 Dodgers win to cap a weather-filled weekend in Denver.
Baez has one year, 59 days of service time, with two years before he's eligible for salary arbitration and five year before free agency. He has two option years remaining, having used one in 2014.