It has not been a fun few days in Arizona.
On Thursday night the last-place club cleaned house, firing both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. Then, in an effort to pump new blood and excitement into the franchise, bench coach and 1988 World Series legend Kirk Gibson was named the Diamondbacks’ next manager.
Fast forward to Saturday night. The Diamondbacks committed a franchise-high six errors in a 14-1 loss to the division rival Dodgers and fell further out of contention in the National League West. Now 32-49, the underachieving D’Backs are 16 games out of first place.
It gets a tad worse. In the second inning Saturday, as clearly seen by this MLB.com video, Dodgers outfielder Xavier Paul drew a walk on only three balls against Arizona starter Rodrigo Lopez. Three balls. Not four. Three. That mistake triggered a six-run inning and the Gibson-led team was unable to overcome. When it rains, it pours.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.