If the Dodgers Are Stale, so is Dave Roberts’ Managing

On Opening Day, the best starting pitcher in the game, Clayton Kershaw, gave up one big hit to the San Francisco Giants – a home run. He lost the game 1-0. In Game 2 of the season, the best closer in the game, Kenley Jansen, gave up one big hit. He lost 1-0 as well.

The Boys in Blue are starting the 2018 campaign exactly the way they ended the World Series last season. They look lost at the plate, can’t recognize a pitch right down the pipe, and aren’t getting much help from their skipper, Dave Roberts. Granted, it’s only been two games so far, but Roberts still looks gun shy when the circumstances of the game call for a bold move to spark the club.

Game 1: The seventh inning stretch was over, and the Dodgers were losing 1-0, with 9 outs to go. Matt Kemp lined out and was followed by a  Yasmani Grandal single. With eight outs remaining, Logan Forsythe (0 for 2 at this point) was due up. The bold move called for a pinch hitter. Roberts could have batted for Logan, used Hernandez or Taylor at third base, and still PH for the pitcher with two more bats remaining on the bench.

The gamble was perhaps too bold for the seventh inning, so Forsythe was allowed to bat. He flied out without advancing the runner. Roberts then PH Chase Utley for the pitcher, and Utley rapped out a single. Chris Taylor struck out to end the inning. All wasn’t lost, and Roberts would be put in the same situation very soon.

The Dodgers accomplished nothing in the eighth. Three strike outs were punctuated by an Enrique Hernandez walk (his second of the night).

In the bottom of the ninth, with three precious outs remaining, and the Dodgers still down 1-0, Roberts was put to the same test he faced the seventh. This time Kemp singled and Grandal struck out. Once again,  Forsythe (now 0 for 3)  was up, followed by the pitcher’s spot. This time the situation didn’t call for a bold move, it demanded a smart one. With Kyle Farmer, Austin Barnes and Joc Pederson at the ready, Roberts once again left the Dodgers’ fate in the empty bat of Forsythe.

What could go wrong? Forsythe’s weak pop up to third base left the Dodgers down to their final out. Roberts then went all in on the least effective Spring Training bat of the three players remaining on the bench, Joc Pederson. After Joc’s soft grounder to short, the Dodgers were left with a one-run loss to open the season.

Game 2: This was a pitchers duel. Alex Wood was brilliant. He kept the Giants scoreless through eight innings, despite the Dodgers’ sloppy infield defense that handed him three errors from Logan Forsythe and one from Corey Seager. That was the good news.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers didn’t do anything at the plate once again. Despite Enrique Hernandez earning walks while the rest of the lineup struck out all around him the previous night, Roberts sat Kike and went with the stale Utley platoon. This resulted in Utley and Forsythe hitting back to back in the lineup. Of course it was a disaster. They combined to go 0 for 6 for the night.

In the top of the ninth, with the score 0-0, Roberts went to  Kenley Jansen. He inserted the best closer in the game into a non-closing situation. The result? Joe Panik, who homered off Clayton Kershaw the night before, hit the second pitch he saw out of the park to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. It turned out Panik caught a break because Jansen has mysteriously lost velocity on his fastball, dropping from 93 to 89 mph. Break or not, Roberts had other options in the pen, but he instead chose the best defensive player available. Yet he baffles because he consistently, inexplicably, ignores his best options on offense.

In the bottom of the ninth, already at a combined 0 for 4, and with perfectly good batters available on the bench, Roberts gave the non-hitting duo of Utley/Forsythe another opportunity to continue their suckage. What could go wrong? Chase and Logan both proceeded to be called out on strikes. *Sigh*

The saying in baseball is “It ain’t over till it’s over”. The Dodgers had one more out, and thus, one last chance to rise up from the peanut shells on the floor to tie the game.

Life has a saying as well. “The definition of insanity (or stupidity) is to repeat the same actions over and over and expect a different result”. Roberts again left good hitters on the bench and went all in on the bat of Joc Pederson. On the first pitch he saw, Pederson popped out to the catcher, and the Dodgers settled deeper in the NL West cellar – where it’s very, very stale.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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26 thoughts on “If the Dodgers Are Stale, so is Dave Roberts’ Managing

  1. I usually think of Roberts as a players manager. And managing ego’s he does pretty well. He knows when to stroke and when to get on a player without embarrassing him. But he showed more than a few times that his in game managing skills are suspect. Especially during the World Series. But now he leaves the hottest hitter in spring training, Farmer, on the bench in 2 really clutch situations against a team that Farmer delivered a memorable pinch hit double to win a game. Makes no sense to me to have the guy sitting on the pine and send the weak ass hitting Joc Pederson up there with the game on the line. You need a contact hitter in that spot. Just get a damn run home guys! Sheesh, quit all this all or nothing mentality.

  2. Oscar

    Do you know for a fact, that Joc hit a soft grounder to the shortstop in that first game?

    Because I have been told, it was hit hard.

    1. MJ, I went back and rewatched Joc’s at bat. It was a routine, two-hopper hit right to the SS. The only thing he had to do was take a step forward, slight bend and toss an easy lob over to first. I’ll stick with my evaluation.

      1. you are sticking with your evaluation because it fits your nerrative,
        just like MJ does when she drones on, and on, and on about how JOC SUCKS.

        It was a sharply hit ball, a ground out yes. It was an atom, thats baseball.

        I didn’t enjoy these last two games all that much, but its just two games.

        I don’t like that we didn’t improve the team by going after Stanton, and resigning Watson
        ( I understand the Morrow pass) but hey were under the salary cap. (being sarcastic).
        I don’t believe for moment that we will be players for Harper, or Machado either.

        Relying on players with no sustained track record at the MLB level to continue to play
        well above replacement level is (was) a gamble, I’m all for finding low cost contributers
        for the team but this LA. The team has already sold over 3 million tickets for this year, and does
        not care enough that they are not on TV since they are still getting paid handsomely for it.

        The team should have blown right through that BS salary cap, but instead joined the other MLB
        owners and played along with the collusion this year. Then continued to insert the younger players
        to help offset the total salary amount. If they are as good at what they say they are that is possible.

        1. Rock

          I went on and on, about how Toles deserved to make the team, and he did!

          And sorry, most people feel that way!

          I haven’t said a thing about Joc’s two at bats.

          I just repeated what Plaschke wrote in the LA Times, about Joc’s grounder, which he said, was weakly hit to the shortstop.

          But you must have a better seat, then the sports writers from the Times

  3. He could have even had Farmer bat for Forsythe too, because he sure wasn’t having a very good night.

    I wouldn’t always go with the platoon advantage, myself.

    It would be good to see Farmer get a chance.

    I wasn’t really surprised with what they did against Cueto, because they have never really hit Cueto well, except for one first inning, in SF a couple years ago.

  4. I don’t think it’s Roberts.

    Pederson is who they picked for these situations. I’m giving more than two at bats. Forsythe and Hernandez are not high on my list but again, this is team Roberts and FAZ picked. They will eventually hit, but I don’t expect them to be consistent.

    Pederson, Forsythe and Hernandez are who they are. They will do what they do. NONE of them are top middle order guys. When we win, and we will, it will be when the top middle is 7 for 17, not 0 for 17. It will happen. Patience.

    1. Badger
      Just exactly how much patience should we show. 30 years is a long time. To keep giving FAZ and Roberts a pass is unexceptable. At some point they need to be accountable. You have stated over the last 2 years at least to show this patience but all the while you seem to not like the likes of Grandal, Kiki, Joc and Forsythe among others. Please enlighten us on just how long we should have this patience with FAZ, Roberts and the gang. Don’t mean to be sharp but shouldn’t we be a little more demanding even though nothing will help those idiots.

      1. Well, I’ve stated my opinion on what I thought they should do. They didn’t do it. Most of us are on the same page about the backups but our starting lineup looks like a good one to me. I like this team. It’s not as lovable as the Yankees are to their fans… but it’s likeable, don’t you think?

        Now we start the long walk toward the finish line. I want to see what this team looks like when it is playing well. And it will play well. I still say we win the West. Maybe this is a wake up call to a team with a Series hangover. They are saying the right things. It’s only two games. Somebody will light the fire.

        1. Badger
          Problem is that the Roberts does not stay with a lineup. For instance, tonight Seager is out and he is replaced by the great KiKi. Give me a break. Seager is 23 years old and has played the first two games and he needs a rest? This kind of crap is what I am talking about. I predicted 85 to 90 wins earlier in the spring and I am sticking to it. Roberts should be fired and a consistant lineup should be used. I know, I know, it worked last year. We shall see.

          1. Well, a lefthander is going for the giants and Kiké is hitting .350 against him. Ok, I made that last part up.

            This is who we are packman. I don’t like any more than you do, but I know not to be surprised by platoons, even this early.

          2. Package

            I don’t like that either, especially after Corey missed a lot, of spring training.

            I think he is getting close on his timing, to hit, so why sit him now?

            He is are best hitter, on our team right now.

            I am glad Farmer is getting a chance, but why sit Corey now.

        1. That was before they decided to reset the cap. I don’t like that as a priority, though the oddsmakers don’t seem to mind.

  5. It’s long season and the bats will come around, except for Grandal and Joc whose value, trade value and on the field, are declining by the day just as predicted immediately after the WS defeated.

    Counting on them is for fools. And it’s never too early to practice in game hit and runs and run and hits, to manufacture runs. When Grandal is on base 7th or later, and we are down a run or two, we need to replace him with Barnes as pinch runner. Why else do we carry 3 catchers?

    1. Squirrels don’t run. And squirrels don’t hit and run. Squirrels slow on base path and swing about launch angles. Squirrel G Contact% is 63%. Squirrel P is the same though in two at bats this year he’s yet to not make contact. Two swings, two outs. That’s efficiency, right?

          1. Badger, Dodger Blue had a story today that the Brewers and the Dodgers were involved in talks that had Kemp and some prospects going to Milwaukee, but no word on who would be coming to LA. Well, that rumor was shot down this afternoon by the Milwaukee GM who said he thought someone was playing an April Fool trick, There is absolutely no truth to that rumor. Braun is owed 57 million over the next 3 years. Why would the Dodgers want to block their own prospects for 3 years with that guy?

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