Frias, Baez could be key cogs in Dodgers' bullpen

Rookies stepping up, pitching later in games

Frias, Baez could be key cogs in Dodgers' bullpen

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers came into the season with a bullpen full of former closers and $35 million worth of salary, but two rookies have elbowed their way into important innings, as well as the postseason picture.

Carlos Frias and Pedro Baez are now appearing in innings that at different times this year were pitched by Brandon League, Chris Perez, Jamey Wright, Paul Maholm, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow.

Even setup men Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell could be sharing the eighth inning with the two hard throwers, whom manager Don Mattingly has cited for the ability to make a location mistake and still be able to overpower a hitter, something neither Wilson nor Howell have the velocity to do.

Frias pitched the seventh and eighth innings Sunday. His 3.63 ERA doesn't reflect the fact that, combined with his six scoreless innings in Wednesday's start, he hasn't allowed a run in his last nine innings. Opponents are batting .193 against him.

"We've had middle-inning issues," said Mattingly. "He could be a valuable guy in that area."

Frias is an overnight sensation after spending eight seasons in the Minor Leagues. Baez was signed the same year as Frias, spending the first six seasons as a light-hitting third baseman before taking the Kenley Jansen route and converting to reliever.

Entering Monday, Baez had allowed one run in 16 1/3 innings over his last 12 games. He worked the ninth inning Monday, allowing a solo homer to the Padres' Yasmani Grandal with two outs before finishing off a 9-4 Dodgers victory.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.