In today’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that it’s “a Baltimore-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh runoff” for the services of free agent starter A.J. Burnett.
Burnett recently announced his intent to come back for one more season, and initially drew the interest of more than a handful of teams. However, he said he prefers to stay close to his home in Maryland, knocking out a good portion of potential suitors. Now, it’s apparently up to the Orioles, Phillies, and Pirates.
Burnett, of course, has a good deal of familiarity with the Pirates, as it was with them that he resuscitated his career after an unflattering three-year stint with the Yankees. The Pirates have famously adopted defensive shifts, which was one reason why Burnett’s numbers improved. Also, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune notes, Burnett ditched his four-seamer in favor of the two-seamer after coming to Pittsburgh.
It’s tough to say if Burnett would experience any drop-off with a change of scenery. It doesn’t hurt that the Pirates might also give him his best chance of finishing his playing career with a championship.
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.