Austin Barnes is still dealing with swelling and soreness in his right hand after getting hit by a pitch in the ninth inning on Thursday in Cincinnati. He’s not expected to start Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, Dave Roberts told reporters on Saturday, as shown on SportsNet LA.
That means Will Smith will start on Sunday, catching all three games during the weekend series. Usually the Dodgers in recent years have avoided starting a catcher in both games of a night-game/day-game combo, though since Saturday’s game was a 4:05 p.m. ET start, it’s not as quick a turnaround as a normal night game.
Since returning from the injured list, Smith has started 32 of 39 games before Sunday, with only four of those starts coming at designated hitter, a little ahead of last year’s pace, when Smith started 130 total games, 106 at catcher.
Though he enters Sunday four plate appearances shy of qualifying for rate leaderboards due to missing 13 games on the injured list, Smith ranks third among major league catchers in fWAR (2.1), thanks to hitting .288/.389/.503 with a 143 wRC+.
Both Smith and Barnes have been below average in throwing out baserunners trying to steal, but Mike Petriello at MLB.com laid out how Dodgers pitchers have exacerbated the problem:
If you put all of those opportunities (sticking just to second base for now) together, what you’ll find is that the Dodgers catchers have been presented with opportunities that are likely to lead to successful throw-outs a mere 14% of the time — which is tied for lowest in the Majors. That’s entirely about what happens before the ball even reaches the catcher’s glove, and what’s happening is that by the time the catcher gets the ball, the play is pretty much decided.
Daniel Hudson pitched a second rehab game for the Dodgers Arizona Complex League on Saturday, with three days off since his first game. Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register talked to Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes about Hudson’s timeline (among other bullpen things), which will still need to include back-to-back games like in spring training. From Gomes:
“But the positive thing is Huddy has been throwing the whole time. So his arm is in good shape and it’s not like we have to build that part up. It’s just going out and getting the reps and making sure he’s bouncing back and feeling good.”
Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs looked at what went wrong for Noah Syndergaard this season. Among other things, Syndergaard swapped out a slider last year for a cutter this year, and the latter pitch has been hammered.