SAN FRANCISCO — Yasmani Grandal started 103 of the Dodgers’ first 145 games this season. Austin Barnes started his 43rd game behind the plate Wednesday night.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opened the door to a possible change in that relationship with Grandal in a six-game slump that has shaved more than 50 points off his OPS.
“Is it possible? Yes,” Roberts said. “Because there’s a point over the course of the season where the handedness doesn’t bother (Barnes). He puts forth a good at-bat against anyone. So Yasmani is a guy that’s gotten the lion’s share against right-handed pitching because of his performance, not only this year but throughout his career. But if you’re looking at (what it takes) to win 11 games in October, there needs to be consideration on who gives you the best chance to win that particular game. If it’s Austin, then it’s Austin. If it’s Yasmani, then it’s Yasmani. Austin deserves that consideration. He’s earned it.”
Over his last 31 games before Wednesday, Grandal was batting only .162 with a .601 OPS and 40 strikeouts in 105 at-bats.
“The past few weeks he’s been out of the strike zone,” Roberts said. “When Yasmani is going well, he’ll take his walks. I think if you look at, call it the past 30 days – there haven’t been many walks in there (14 in his past 120 plate appearances).
“The thing with him is the ability to look over a baseball and when it’s in the strike zone to take swings and when it’s not to take his walks. But he’s being overly aggressive. I think the last few days he’s been better. The intent has been better. I think he’s been frustrated by some of the calls in the strike zone, causing him to expand. But that’s no excuse and we’ve talked about that. So he’s gotta get better at swinging at strikes.”
The switch-hitting Grandal has always been a more dangerous hitter batting left-handed, making for a natural platoon with the right-handed Barnes. But Barnes has actually hit better against right-handed pitching (a .302 average and .806 OPS in his brief career) than lefties (.233 and .799).
“I fully expect Yasmani to get untracked. I really do,” Roberts said – as he has with slumping outfielder Curtis Granderson. “Grandy, we talk about being a streaky hitter and Yasmani has been streaky throughout his career. Hopefully this is a trend that will turn Friday for Yasmani.”
Before Tuesday night, Roberts had not asked closer Kenley…