Dodgers Team News

Dodgers: Dave Roberts Explains Pinch Hitting Austin Barnes for Cody Bellinger

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with Padres closer Josh Hader on the mound.

Cody Bellinger’s spot in the lineup came up, and with the lefty killer Hader on the mound, L.A. manager Dave Roberts chose to pinch-hit for Bellinger.

The only question was: Who will pinch-hit? Would it be Chris Taylor, a right-handed hitter who strikes out way too often? Maybe rookie Miguel Vargas, a lefty-masher in the minors who hasn’t proved much yet in the big leagues?

Nope, it was Austin Barnes, who had his best offensive season in five years this year, but also his OPS+ was just 94, so it’s not like he was good.

Barnes flied out to end the inning, and the Dodgers went on to lose, 5-3.

After the game, Roberts was asked why he went with Barnes over Taylor or Vargas:

Taylor and Barnes are both know commodities at this point. Barnes was likely to get out, and Taylor was likely to strike out. The only real wild card there is Vargas — but he batted .170 in the big leagues this year.

Simply put, there were no good options in that situation. That’s the point of having a pitcher like Hader, he puts the other team in positions where all of their options are bad.

The game wasn’t won or lost in that decision. Trea Turner’s error that allowed the winning run to score helped lose the game, as did going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Barnes’ fly out was just one of those eight outs with RISP.

I’d have loved to see Vargas get a chance in that situation — again, we know what Barnes and Taylor are more than we know anything about Vargas. But Roberts’ logic makes sense, and Barnes hit the ball hard, just right at the outfielder.

Maybe the story here is that baseball is hard.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.


  1. Thompson,barnes bellinger are known light hitters-belli,barnes,thompson strike out way too much. should have used VARGAS OR even Taylor whose always come up big in games like these==poor chose!!!!!!!

  2. He can explain all he wants, but as soon as he said Chris Taylor would be starting game 3, his Barnes move was absurd. Even the the ding dong Pierzinski on the broadcast couldn’t believe what Roberts did.

  3. No matter who PH…game was not lost there. Had we scored earlier in the game, the outcome would have been different

  4. It would have been a gamble to use Vargas and a rookie into such a position, but he should have taken it! I agree that the game was lost because of the 0 for 8 in RISP!

    1. Dumb ole Roberts has gotten the Dodgers to the playoffs year after year. What have you done, you idiot?

  5. Maybe Roberts should try a suicide squeeze bunt. Twice a runner on 3rd, nobody out and poof. Nothing. I seem to remember home teams go for the tie but all Roberts knows how to do is hope for the bomb.

    1. I don’t think anybody on the Dodgers know how to bunt. But they should’ve butted both times and tied the score and actually the second bunt but would’ve be the go ahead run. Oh well Roberts doesn’t know old school baseball that’s for sure. Just a huge payroll for l lotta really good players that don’t know how to bunt.

  6. More importantly, why did he bring in Treinen to pitch the top of the 8th down a run when he’s only pitched about 5 innings the whole year? But I’m being facetious here, of course because Dave F’n Roberts is going to be DFR as per usual in the playoffs.

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