Scott Hairston’s oblique strain leaves the Mets in need of a backup center fielder behind starter Andres Torres and converted pitcher Adam Loewen has a legitimate chance to claim the gig.
Loewen was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2002 draft and started 29 games in the majors for the Orioles by age 24, but gave up pitching in 2009 following injuries and ineffectiveness.
He spent last season at Triple-A in the Blue Jays’ system, hitting .306 with 17 homers and an .884 OPS in 134 games. Impressive raw numbers, although Las Vegas is an extremely hitter-friendly environment and his 136/61 K/BB ratio wasn’t as encouraging.
Oh, and he’s played just 18 career games in center field, so even if Loewen can hit in the majors the jury is still very much out on whether he can field the position adequately. Of course, his primary competition is Mike Baxter and he’s a career-long infielder with just 43 games in center field.
All of which means the Mets are really counting on Torres to stay healthy after missing 50 games last season.
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.