Jake Fox led spring training in homers and his monster exhibition production made lots of headlines last month, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter instead smartly focused on his defensive deficiencies and extensive track record containing thousands of plate appearances.
All of which is why Fox has played in just two of the Orioles’ first nine games while going 0-for-7 to bring his career batting average down to .232 in 168 games.
Fox’s power hasn’t been limited to spring training, as he’s smacked 18 homers in 435 at-bats during the regular season, but a .232 batting average combined with a ghastly 98/23 K/BB ratio and .281 on-base percentage from a 28-year-old without an obvious home defensively don’t add up to much more than a reserve role.
Fox’s lone start of the season came at catcher Saturday night and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that he and batterymate Jake Arrieta “weren’t totally in sync” and had “a long conversation” in the dugout with Showalter, who hinted afterward that he wasn’t happy with the game-calling.
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.