Let’s Stop Blaming Dave Roberts For The Dodger’s Lackluster Bullpen

Dave Roberts

If there is one thing that could prevent the Dodgers from winning the World Series this season, it’s the lackluster relief pitching. The lineup is elite. The starting rotation is strong, and the bench is solid. Even the defense that at times appears sloppy is good enough to win with. The bullpen however is just not very effective. There are little to no reliable options and closer Kenley Jansen has been frustratingly inconsistent. But let’s stop putting the blame on manager Dave Roberts.

Once again Jansen blew another game on Wednesday night during the Dodger’s 2-1 win over Toronto. The Dodgers are at home playing a series against the Blue Jays. It’s really just a precursor until the Yankees come into town. The Jays are terrible this year, sitting in the bottom of the American League East standings. The Dodgers had a 1-0 lead entering the top of the ninth inning after Walker Buehler fired off seven shutout frames, yet Jansen who is clearly old and in decline gave up a solo home run to .227 hitting Rowdy Tellez that tied the game and then was seen cursing to himself while walking off the mound. Jansen, just as frustrated with his crappy pitching as we are has been infuriatingly poor in 2019. He’s now allowed 8 home runs, posted a 3.70 ERA and has blown 6 saves. The rest of the bullpen is bad.

But let’s stop pretending like Roberts has some kind of magic elixir that he’s refusing to drink. None of the other relievers are particularly intimidating. The lone reliever pitching well is Joe Kelly. And he was horrendous throughout the early part of the season. The rest of the relievers all suck. Do you feel confident in Pedro Baez? Julio Urias is serving a 20-game suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident and the Dodgers refuse to pitch him on consecutive days. The rest of the choices are guys like Casey Sadler, Caleb Ferguson, Adam Kolarek, and Yimi Garcia. Those guys all clearly suck.

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It’s not Jansen’s fault that he’s getting old. Let’s not kick him while he’s down. He’s given us a decade of elite relief pitching in the ninth inning and he should be respected for what he’s done for the organization. It’s easy to pile blame on Roberts, but I pose a question. If all of the relievers suck, then what good choices does Roberts have? Who can he use?

The burden actually falls on management to build a good bullpen and the time for that was during the winter. The onus falls squarely on the moronic shoulders of Andrew Friedman, Stan Kasten and Mark Walter to ensure that Roberts has reliable options in the late innings. I understand that relief pitching is volatile and changes from year to year. Yet it shouldn’t be that difficult to acquire one, maybe two decent relievers. Friedman and Kasten refused to do what was necessary during the offseason knowing full well that the Dodgers were in desperate need for a rebuilt bullpen for the second straight season. Now the Dodgers must rely on their excess load of starting pitchers to supplement their middling relief corp.

For the record, the Dodgers won on Wednesday night anyways like they usually do. Max Muncy smacked a walk-off home run to give the Boys in Blue a 2-1 win. That’s the Dodger’s eleventh walk-off of the season. They can’t walk-off every game in the postseason. If the Dodger’s mediocre bullpen and lack of reliable relievers prevents them from winning the World Series in 2019 then we know who to point the finger at.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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35 thoughts on “Let’s Stop Blaming Dave Roberts For The Dodger’s Lackluster Bullpen

  1. Scott
    I am absolutely with you. Friedman has not done a good joy getting quality relief pitchers. However, never doubt that Roberts can do his share of messing up. Friedman has never given the bullpen the attention it deserves.

    1. Concur, package. And the real time to attend to the BP is actually in the off season, because as we all saw, for Dodgers to get any reliever worth his salt at all at the trading deadline , the cost would have been much much greater than it would have for any other team.

  2. We’ve got about 3-4 weeks to experiment before settling on who we want in the postseason for the bullpen. It doesn’t look too good now. But maybe a few guys get better. Hopefully.

    Will we have two 40 HR hitters this year? Bellinger is already there and Muncy is at 33 already.

    1. AS you know I have been saying this for the last month. Yes, the FO has given all hopes of gaining some quality bullpen help the FO, so now we sit and watch great opportunity for a WS championship circle around the toilet bowl.

      Kelly MUST be inserted as the closer, it is beyond painfully obvious that GasKanley and his 20 million reasons for being the closer are over and done with. Bert has always been slow and poor at on the field management, now he must pull his head out and go another direction in the 9th inning. So set up the closer as Kelly and then work backwards to try and figure out who will be and what order they will be used in from the pen. Maybe it really is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, it just might not matter with the cards that old Andy has dumped (and I do mean dumped) onto Bert’s dinner plate.

      NOw we will find out what Bert is really made of, can he do some experimenting in the pen while there is still time this regular season. It has to start with Kelly as the closer NOW.

      1. Who the hell is “Bert”? Sheesh. Yeah, yeah, I know you meant Dave Roberts but what’s with the cute nicknames you and you alone have assigned?

        I highly doubt that the front office INTENTIONALLY did not address a bullpen they thought deficient. Now, maybe the issue is that they didn’t think it would be weak, but that is a different issue inasmuch as evaluating and signing talent has NOT been their weakness. Afterall, whether you like them or not they are responsible for 2 successive appearances in the World Series after 28 years of the Dodgers never having made it there.

        Taylor, Kike, Muncy, Freese, not trading away Pederson, Bellinger, Urias, Seager, Buehler, Smith, etc etc. How can they be SO outstanding at keeping the right guys and finding heretofore unknown nuggets that perform for the Dodgers but solely can’t find or evaluate relief pitchers? It doesn’t wash despite our frustrations.

        1. I agree with you Dan, but let me give you a list of the terrible pitchers they’ve acquired since they took over in 2015. You tell me what you think of this list….

          Brandon McCarthy
          Brett Anderson
          Daniel coloumbe
          Erik Bedard
          Brandon Beachy
          Wilmer Font
          Jim Johnson (horrendous)
          Sergio Romo
          Casey fien
          JT chargois
          Chris Hatcher
          Joel Peralta
          Joe wieland
          Erik surkamp
          David huff
          Chin-Hui Tao
          Scott Baker
          Mat Latos
          Ian Thomas (ughhh)
          Scott Kazmir
          Louis Coleman
          Scott Alexander
          Bud Norris
          Nick Tepesch (who actually started a major league game)
          Yu Darvish (soft ass bum)
          Fabio Castillo (he appeared in 2 games)
          Zach rosscup (they reacquired him this year)
          John axford
          Zach neal
          Jamie schultz

          You take a look at the list of bums above and let me know what you think

          1. Pretty pathetic group if you ask me, and a couple of those contracts were so bad that most cannot believe that they offered the player that much. AKA Anderson and McCarthy.

        2. Hey Dan, do those wadded up undies hurt your ass? Or just make you an angry bitter person? Or just look like an A?

          1. Yes we can Bluto. I myself have mellowed a lot since I first came on here and I admit freely that I was pretty confrontational back then. Although I have never been into saber metrics and the way in which they now conduct the business of baseball, I have as of late tried to at least understand why the ownership and FO of the Dodgers make the decisions they do. They spend money, that we know. Most of us have not always agreed on who they spent it on, especially after such epic flame outs as Kazmir, Anderson and McCarthy. I did not think that signing Hill was a great move. I still don’t, but he has at least been good when he has been pitching. Those other 3 were not and the Dodgers never got their money’s worth out of any of them. I was as upset about them not really improving the pen, and never have really bought into the explanation afterwards. But, I am just a fan and we have to live with what we have on the team. Wishing it was not so is not going to change anything. I have also tried to refrain from judging people I have never met simply on what they post on a blog. Not always successful, but I try. What I am enjoying is a team playing better than it has in any stretch of its existence. They have a better chance than most and a really good chance of winning the World Series. Neither the Yankees or Astro’s or any other so called contender is that much better than the Dodgers.

  3. Well a wasted effort by Buehler. Between Walker and Ryu, they have had many supreme efforts wasted away by the ragged pen and listless bats. It would be a shame if these two missed out on any post season awards, basically due to their won/loss records. You would think the best team in baseball would give them a little run support and relief pitching.

    Dodger bats literally silenced by the Blue Jays’ bullpen game, but could not silence the mighty bats of Will Smith or Mighty Max. The only way to silence Smith’s bat will be DR sitting him in favor of Martin, so as not to wear out the poor kid. Dodger Brass feels it is too soon to cut the leash on the rookie….. Will is not ready for the rigors of the big show. DR puts Pederson back in leadoff, and gets no results, again. Peddie is not a leadoff hitter. Should keep Pollock there. AJ is more productive in that spot. Muncie saves the game. Max has been the heart of this team, with his versatility on defense and his offensive clout.

    Kenley has shown that he is no longer the fearless closer of the past. Dodger Brass still believes in him, and have too much money invested in him. DR has to throw him out there. They have nobody else. I think many fans feel as I do…. Jansen is washed up. I’m sorry, Dodger Fans…Kenley and the bullpen will not be good enough for the post season. Roberts has been given a bucket of slugs, and can only work with what the Dodger Brass has provided.

    Possible sweep today? We shall have to wait and see. Maeda has been in a slump. Maybe overdue for a decent game.

    1. The Blue jays are a great hitting team for the most part and tonight’s game will depend in part on the Dodgers putting up a better offensive effort than last night because Maeda just may do what he does best in serving up a few HR’s to them early in the game. In other words, 2 or 3 runs scored by the Dodgers most likely will not win tonight’s game.

      1. Well, Maeda pitched a strong 6 innings, with nine K’s. Just really one mistake to Vladie Jr. in the 6th. The Bullpen kept the game within reach with three shutout innings. Maeda had the only hit, as he Dodgers offense was basically a no show …. Kenta’s hit, and no runs. A lineup of “automatic outs” through eight frustrating innings.

        DR chose to “SIT” CT3 and Will Smith, after they both had superb offensive performances the night before. Typical Dodger move… “SIT” the hot bats, and definitely “SIT” Smith, so as not to overwork the poor kid. The listless lineup that DR composed for tonight’s game had me swearing at the radio all night.

        Then came another miracle comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Bellinger and Seager back to back doubles, to tie the score, and Kiké a walk off single to win the game, on his Bobblehead Night!

        Thank God they did not need Jansen tonight…. whew!

        A nice sweep of the Jays, Gonna need some offensive punch against the Yanks. Big series this weekend. Go Blue!

        1. All so true here, Bluefan. Honestly Maeda did better than I thought and didn’t serve it up right away. And I am also surprised to see that the 3 runs scored in the 9th WAS enough to win the game. But you are also right on with KJ not being in there tonight.

  4. Not going to make excuses when there are none. From what I saw, Jansen was all over the place with his pitches. His main problem I see is that he is getting behind too many hitters and then has to throw a strike. His pitch was down and in and Tellez crushed it. The offense did no favors either. After the explosion the night before, they looked like they were just missing squaring up balls. Too many lazy fly balls and pop ups. The defense was very good. Buehler did not have a great game. But he did more than enough to win. Maeda tonight against some guy who’s name I cannot pronounce, let alone spell! Joc has definitely regressed after his hot streak. He did hit a couple of balls right on the nose, but right at fielders. Why these guys continue to try to hit into the shifts is beyond me. I would be bunting or hitting the other way. As for Doc, he can only use what they give him. I did not even notice that Floro was put back on the IL and Sadler recalled yesterday. I was reading the injury reports this morning. They think Hill will be back by maybe the first week of September. Stripling might be ready by the first. As for Verdugo, he is still experiencing pain in his rib cage and has not started any baseball activities yet.

  5. Haven’t posted in awhile. Their bullpen will prevent them from winning a chip. Calling it now.

    But spending big money or prospects on relievers goes against these saber guys. It’s because of volatility. They spent a little on Joe Kelly, that’s it. They’re always looking at reclamation guys etc. Despite their quality system, they have not produced relief arms. They better hope some of these converted starters work.

    As for the close role, Baez and Kelly have both better stuff than AJnsen, Kelly has been downright nasty last couple months. Do I trust him? of course not.

    1. Bold prediction on the bullpen there, Saber (lol). Michael thinks that there are 20 million reasons why they will insist on using GasKanley in the closer role. Sure it has nothing to do with winning but remember there are 20 million reasons why the Dodgers will insist on going down in flames with GasKanley. I however think there is ONE reason they will not allow Gaskanley to torch the WS, as you know.

  6. Scott, of those pitchers ya mentioned as far as the other relievers go, Yimi Garcia makes the rest of that list you posted look like lock down relievers. If anyone were to bet that each time Garcia is brought in that he would serve up a HR, they would be very rich in $$ winnings indeed.

    1. Paul, GasKanley is getting to be better than a 50/50 chance of serving up a homerun when he arrives. and that’s against the bad teams, when it comes to playoff teams, GasKanley most likely will get jacked every time he enters the game (maybe even if he just enters the room). As you know, I think if opposing batters just rest the bat on their shoulder that they will draw a walk 75% of the time.

      1. True Blue, correct on that for sure. I actually thought that since he convinced Roberts to give him more consistent appearances, closing or not, that he might be a bit better off but last night you can probably guess how i felt after seeing yet another HR hit off of KJ. Yes he certainly is not the closer he once was back in 2017 and before. Remember that last year KJ gave up 13 HR’s in the regular season alone, which I believe was more than twice as many as he served up in 2016 and 2017 combined.

        1. Not to mention he blew 2 games against the Astros two seasons ago in the WS. He really has been in decline since the playoffs three seasons ago. At the time, against the Astros in particular, I thought he was just tired and couldn’t command his pitches, reality is the wheels were just coming off his wagon, and it was ugly decline under the bright lights of the post season. FO apparently didn’t believe it and gave his “20 million reasons” to resign him, so our FO just “unloaded 20 million reasons” out of their bank account for a reliever on the total back end of his career.

          On another note, my poor sister is traveling down from NoCal to see Friday and Saturday games against the Yankees. She was very excited after not being in Dodger Stadium for many years. When I told them that the Yankees and the Dodgers would be wearing clown/softball unis for the series, she was so disappointed. After all these years, two of the most iconic teams in the MLB are finally playing each other in LA and the MLB stuck this stupid millenial costume parade down our throats, really stupid planning by MLB

        2. Pitching for the Yankees series…………..Ryu-Paxton, Gonsolin-Sabathia, Kershaw-German. They need to get to the starters because the Yankee pen is very good. Read MLBtraderumors.com. There is a story on there today about Jansen and Roberts having a talk. The gist of it is that Jansen is THE CLOSER. Now, could that change? According to Roberts only if Jansen does not show improvement over his next appearances. Jansen served up 13 long balls last year and 8 so far this season. In 16 he gave up 4 and in 17 he gave up 5. While he has been very good in the playoffs, he has given up 4 homers in 12.2 innings in World Series play. He definitely has not been the same pitcher in the series. Jansen himself insists there is nothing wrong and he will be himself. He also met with Friedman. My take is that Jansen is there because of his experience and prior success. For a closer he does not get nearly as much work with this bunch as he would with another team. Chapman has 35 saves for the Yankees. But he has blown 5. The Dodgers are #1 in the majors in pitching with an ERA well below 4. Yanks are 16th. Here is a little surprise, the relievers on both teams have blown the same amount of games. Yanks have had 70 save opportunities, and blown 22. The Dodgers have had 54, and blown 22. Yanks strike out more, and have a few more HR’s than the Dodgers. Neither team runs much, and the Dodgers OPS< SLG & OBP are all very close to the Yanks. The Dodgers, because of their patience, walk a lot more than NY. Should be a very interesting 3 days. Yanks on a 3 game losing streak. Just swept by the A’s. They scored 9 runs over the 3 games.

  7. Was that a protective swing I saw from Kiké tonight? It’s been a long time coming. Walkoff hit on a shortened swing on his own bobble head night. Who said old school is dead?

    I am very happy with our hitting coaches so far!

    1. Yeah Yueh (see me working?), totally agree.

      Did you like Kike looking like a bobblehead during the celebration?

      Dan, since your head is up your ass, you must have missed the walk-off hit by Kike last night. Now go chase the neighborhood kids off your lawn, you old grumpy fool!

    2. Yep, it sure was, but he still chases that outside pitch too much. I think Joc needs some contemplative time on the bench. His swing is all messed up. Beaty can fill his shoes more than adequately. Verdugo has not even begun any baseball activity’s yet, so no time table for his return.

      1. I’m hearing that Verdugo is still having pain in his side and ribcage, he might not be as close to return as we hoped, however they don’t need to rush him back we still have 5 weeks till the playoffs.

        Beaty is a beast, and he is clutch as clutch can be. It’s a shame that Beaty and Will Smith just arent’ ready for the big show, maybe with a few more years at AAA will get them close/

      2. Definitely a protective swing, in desperation. Kiké was just lucky to get the bat on the ball. I still think he is in “Automatic Out” mode.

        I have been saying all along, that Joc’s swing is all messed up. Many may disagree, but I’m sticking to my theory, that the darn HR Derby really screws up a hitter’s swing. All started with McRoid, and his coaching during Pederson’s First HR Derby experience. He got Peddie to go for more loft and launch angle. Now, Pederson can no longer hit anything, except for a 65 MPH, Derby toss…. left or right handed.

        Jansen continues to boost that he is fine, and will regain his form. He has always been one to blow a huge smoke screen on his true heath and physical condition. I just do not believe him anymore. Seems he is hiding something which is impeding his performance., and he is afraid to admit it. DR continues to say he believes in him…. what else can he do? He has to do what the FO wants him to do.

        1. all I can add here is that honestly in a way will feel sorry for KJ and Roberts if in the end here they both have a huge role in Dodgers losing again in the WS or even failing to even get there. Crucifixion would be an understatement if there ever was one.

          1. Rumor has it that they are fitting up crosses to replace the HOLLYWOOD sign, should the Dodgers blow chunks again in the post season

  8. Paul,

    It is sad. Kenley, no doubt, has had a fabulous career with the Dodgers. He should be grateful that the Dodgers made him the player and millionaire he is. If they had not converted him to a pitcher, then he would have probably been handing out balloons at the Walmart in Curacao (sorry Michael), years ago. Unfortunately, regardless of what he has done in the past, reality has to set in at some point. The Dodgers cannot keep calling on him to close games, if he does not have it any more. They just have to suck up that huge contract, and let Jansen go, for the sake of the team, and most importantly, in fairness to Kenley and his teammates. On the other hand, Kenley has to be true to himself. Stop trying to be what he no longer is. Don’t let him go out this way, with his tail tucked between his legs. Let him go out a winner, so we can remember the positive things he did for this team.

    It was sad to hear him get booed off the field the other night, and to be honest, I would probably have been booing too.

    1. Hell, I was at home watching on TV and I was booing.

      Hey, he had a good run and it lasted for a while, but that is now that, he doesn’t have it anymore. Sure a moment of brilliance might show up, but no longer on a very consistent basis. Home Runs are now what is showing up on a consistent basis. GasKanley thinks it is not his problem but Bert’s problem for not using him enough. Jansen now must realize that if he wants to be used more he has to earn it (personally I don’t see that happening, the Jansen Jeannie is out of the bottle).

      Now to put on a little music, maybe “Little old lady from Pasadena” would be appropriate.

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