Jonny Venters’ left arm may have finally succumbed to the strain of his heavy workloads, as the Braves placed the setup man on the disabled list with an elbow impingement.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that there has never been any talk of Venters being hurt until now, but there have been signs within his performance dating back to late last season.
Venters was ridiculously good last year and the Braves rode him extremely hard, calling on the left-hander for a league-leading 85 appearances and 88 innings. He faded down the stretch, posting a 5.65 ERA in his final 15 games compared to a 1.10 ERA through 70 games.
He bounced back this season by allowing zero earned runs in April, but since May 1 he has a 6.08 ERA. That includes six homers and 18 runs allowed in 24 innings after Venters allowed a grand total of two homers and 19 runs in 88 innings last season. Of course, Venters also has 26 strikeouts in those 24 innings since May 1 and if he’s been able to do that while pitching through an injury … well, that’s pretty damn amazing.
Since the beginning of 2010 the Braves have called on Venters for 204 appearances, which is the most in baseball and no one else is above 193. He was ridden hard and put away wet.
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.