World Series Game 2 Opinion: Dodgers Must Have Better Game Management

The Dodgers lost game two of the World Series to the Red Sox 4-2 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was certainly a demoralizing defeat as the Dodgers come home mired in an 0-2 series hole. Being down 2-0 in the World Series isn’t an insurmountable deficit but the Dodgers probably would have to win games 3 and 4 if they want to have a chance at winning the series. They’ll have to play nearly flawless baseball and it’s going to be a tough road ahead for them.

I understand that winning back-to-back pennants is difficult to do. The Dodgers are a good team, but let’s talk about some of the poor game decisions that were made in game 2. I feel if different choices were made then the Dodgers probably win. I think it’s ok to be able to criticize your favorite team and at the same time celebrate their accomplishments. I’ll never stop pointing out ways the Dodgers can improve their play and in-game management. So let’s get to it.

The first pivotal point came in the top of the fourth inning. Boston had a 1-0 lead and the Dodgers mounted a nice rally against starter David Price. David Freese and Manny Machado started the inning with consecutive singles and Chris Taylor worked a lovely walk. The bases were loaded and Matt Kemp’s sacrifice fly brought home the tying run.

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At this point the Dodgers had the Red Sox on the ropes. After Kemp’s sac fly the Dodgers had runners at first and second with one out. Here’s where things get stupid. The next hitter up was Enrique Hernandez. As you all know Hernandez has been ice cold in the postseason. He’s had a great regular season but has gotten three hits this postseason and none since the division series. He went ohfer the entire NLCS. The wise decision there was to pinch-hit for him. Don’t let him bat with runners on base.

But you know the Dodgers. Management simply refuses to let a left handed hitter face a left handed pitcher…..ever. Even though Hernandez couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Yet he was allowed to face Price with two on and the Dodgers having a chance to put up some runs. To his credit, Enrique did work the count to 3-2, fouling off several pitches. Then he struck out. Such a wasted opportunity. Look if the Dodgers refuse to left a lefty off the bench (Joc Pederson, Max Muncy) who were clearly better options to get hits face Price, then you either have Yasmani Grandal hit from the right side of the plate, or and forgive me for even saying this, have Enrique lay down a bunt and move the runners over.

Because of he did that then Yasiel Puig’s base hit into center scores both runners instead of just one. The Dodgers have to stop letting cold bats stink up the lineup. Hernandez, Brian Dozier and Austin Barnes all suck. None of them should be allowed plate appearances with runners on base in crucial situations. I’m sorry to say this, but it’s the truth.

The second moment came in the bottom of the fifth. Starter Hyun-jin Ryu was breezing along. Ok maybe he wasn’t breezing but he was pitching pretty well. He was getting swings and misses and had allowed only one earned run up until that point. But Boston put together a two-out rally. Their two-strike approaches are phenomenal. Ninth-place hitter Christian Vazquez singles, and Mookie Betts also singles. Then Ryu gets squeezed a bit and walks Andrew Benintendi to load the bases.

The Dodgers have a couple of choices here. Either let Ryu finish the inning and get the third out, or bring in your hottest reliever to squelch this potentially game ruining rally. At this point the odds of the Dodgers scoring again were well…nill. You might ask how I knew this but I can just point towards the Dodger’s hitting futility this season. You would think the best thing to do here is bring in Pedro Baez. He’s actually been the best reliever for the Dodgers. Dude has been dealing this October, and has been blowing guys away. Needing one out, Baez would have been the perfect counter to kill Boston’s rally.

So what do the Dodgers do? They bring in Ryan Madson…..again. No offense to Madson here. I like him, and he’s provided the Dodgers with some consistency. He’s gotten some key outs for the Dodgers over the last several weeks. However he’s way past his prime and coming in with the bases loaded and no room for error is a recipe for disaster.

The most important thing for the Dodgers that inning is not only prevent the Red Sox from taking the lead, but not let letting J.D. Martinez reach the plate with runners on base. The Dodgers had one hitter to get before Martinez strode to the plate. That was Steve Pearce. Before you say anything, which matchup do you like better? Red hot Pedro Baez vs. Pearce? Or Madson vs. Pearce? I’ll l take the first choice in this one. Madson walked Pearce to force in a run, and then gave up a two-run single to Martinez that put the Red Sox ahead for good.

I’m sure I’ll hear all the apologists and optimists and people who never criticize giving me the same rhetoric. They’ll say things like….

“Do you know how hard it is to win consecutive pennants and win the World Series”?

Yes I understand that it’s hard, but good game management makes it easier to win games.

“You’ve never played baseball and never managed in your life”!

Correct. I’ve never played or managed a baseball game in my life besides little league action. I write about baseball, but don’t play.

“You think you could do better”?!?!

Probably not, but I hit for Enrique Hernandez in the top of the fourth, and bring in Pedro Baez to face Steve Pearce, and the Dodgers likely win the game.

“You’re just too negative! Stop complaining!” You complainer!!!! Arghghghghgh!!!!”

No, I just want the Dodgers to win a World Series before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Sometime within the next 50 years or so.

The naysayers can say whatever they want to me, but the fact remains that if the Dodgers want to win the World Series this year then the game management has to get better. I’m sorry but it just has to.

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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26 thoughts on “World Series Game 2 Opinion: Dodgers Must Have Better Game Management

  1. Good write-up Scott. I agree that a mixed lineup of right and left hand batters work better than the all-right and all-left lineups. It might have been successful against the other teams in the past, but it is no longer effective. It was amazing leaving 4 hitters on the bench with over 100 homeruns, not that home runs always win the games.
    Go Blue!

  2. if a starting picture can face left and right handed hitters..so can a relief pitcher..this is a crock shit . when they come out of the bull pen they have to get use to the mound and some time it takes a while…so if the guy who is in there is pitching well ..dont take him out..that is just stupid..kike hasnt hit in any of the play off ..he should be sitting.

  3. You forgot to mention, Madson was just as ineffective the night before, unable to throw strikes and walking the batters he faced.

    Just so I have some guide rails here, Scott, so “Asshole” is a swear word and “Shit” is not, correct?

  4. I love Scott writing that batting for Kike and bringing in Baez is all the Dodgers needed do.

    It’s like a masterclass in counter-factuals.

    Every once in a while the better team wins.

    That said, I’m not sure I get all of Roberts machinations.

    1. Yes correct. I believe they stood a better chance of winning by doing what I observed. I mean come on Kike is like 0 for infinity this postseason. He couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Ide literally rather have Kurt bevaqua bat there. So no, you can’t let him hit with runners on base. You have to hit for him! Or if you absolutely refuse to let joc or muncy bat against a lefty you ask kike to bunt the runners over and get the hell out of the way for someone who can get a hit there. But, what would you have done there Bluto?

      1. I know about 1/100 what Roberts does about baseball and its intricacies, I’m not going to pretend I know anything.

        He’s gotten the team to the Series back to back. That’s ridiculously hard.

        I trust him. I’m perplexed by his lineups, but I trust him.

        I definitely am not going to say that any move I thought about, contrary to his, would have changed the outcome.

        Please.

        1. Bluto,

          David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez questioned the moves on the post game. Is their “opinion” good enough for you? Verducci was with them on the panel. Why have Verducci there? He has never played or managed.

        2. You didn’t answer my question though. Do you think kike had a good chance of getting a hit in that situation? Was there not any better options on the Dodger bench at the time considering kike is batting like .085 this postseason?

          1. I don’t have an opinion.

            On one hand I like sticking with players who helped you get there.

            On the other, you only have a limited set of games.

            The issue Scott and Package isn’t Kike. It’s Scott’s writing. Making up that he knows how history likely would have played out is lazy and poor writing. You don’t Need to elevate the stakes nor create counter-factual.

            Write your opinion, defend it. Don’t create melodrama.

            I’m more interested Package if they simply questioned the move, or said the Dodgers would have won in the unknowable other case. Somehow, I think it’s the former.

          2. I think the move deserves to be questioned Bluto. It’s ok if you disagree with me here. I’m not trying to kick Kike while he’s down. He had a great regular season no doubt. He was worth over three wins in the regular season. But he’s 3 for 36 in the postseason. My point is he’s just not hitting at all right now. He’s an automatic out. So letting him hit in a crucial situation with runners on base when there are better options on the bench available doesn’t seem logical to me.

          3. That’s great!

            That’s a wonderful reasoned opinion. Leave the crap that you know how this change would have made the Dodgers likely winners.

            The Red Sox are quite good.

  5. Scott, I don’t think you have to sell the fact that Dave Roberts has not put this team in a good position to win. Anyone who cannot see that, is actively ignoring it.

    These two losses were eerily similar. They are not getting clobbered. They are getting put in pressure situations by a good team and are making the wrong decisions.

    More Baez and Urias. Less Madson and Wood.
    More Muncy and Bellinger. Less Hernandez and Dozier.
    (regardless of lefty righty matchups)

    Do not empty your bench in the 6th or 7th. Extend relievers who are getting outs any way you can. (It should be easy to do with the DH rule). Lay down a bunt or move the runners over once in a while. Quit intentionally walking hitters not named JD Martinez, with less than 2 outs.

    They need to find a way to give the bulk of the playing time to the best players. The Dodgers depth only means that their worst players are better than the other team’s worst players.

        1. It’s not who, that’s the problem. Mostly it’s a lack of approach and too much reliance on Matchups. For some this is fine. Surely they’ve gotten to the world series in consecutive years. The question to ask is why and how?

          Did they get there because of matchups? No, I think they got here because the team is talented and deep. But even the best teams can have flaws in their approaches or game management.

          There are three hitters right now who are automatic outs. All three hitting .100 or lower in postseason. They have good gloves but can’t hit and that’s not likely to change. Not putting them in the starting lineup is a great start to improving run production.

          1. Scott
            There are 5 that are .133 or below and have a total of 51 strike outs. no way would I start any of them and that includes the MVP of the NLCS.

  6. Lot of people want to blame Roberts, and look, I am the furthest thing from a Roberts’ apologist. He’s a brutal tactician in my view but I give him credit for being a good cheerleader, clubhouse guy, and most importantly puppet for the front office.

    But the Dodgers have done ZERO against the Red Sox pen, allegedly their weakness. The Dodgers went 0-16 yesterday over the last 5 + innings. That’s just pathetic.

    You’re not going to get away with scoring 2 runs and expecting a 2-1 lead is going to hold up over 6 innings against the Red Sox.

    Dodgers offense has vanished, it wasn’t good last series either.

    1. Saber Fail
      I agree that Roberts knows how to Rah Rah and give high fives but it remains to be seen as to whether or not he has the respect of his men. You said that he is a puppet for upper management and I agree with you but Roberts also is accountable for the in game pitching decisions and the lineup and changes to it. He has failed not because the team did not respond but because he did not put the correct players in at the correct time to succeed. He has done it all year. When a manager puts in a position player who has never pitched in to pitch in a tied extra inning game, he is a stupid Dummy. Don’t think the other players did not note this action. He is so stubborn that he believes that righty lefty, lefty righty matchups are right every time. HE IS THE PROBLEM AND HE IS A DUMMY!!

  7. No one is saying that DR lost the game. He was not playing.

    But he did not put the team in the best position to win. How many times has the all-righty lineup worked over the past few years? Alex Wood has given up big homeruns, Baez has not. Madson has let inherited runners score, Baez has not.

    He needed to extend Urias and Baez. You know, the pitchers who are pitching well.

    (joke)
    Cue the Disney theme song “Wish upon a star”
    Cue reporter asking Cody Bellinger “you just won the NLCS MVP, where are you going now?”
    Cody: …..”the bench”

    1. 3 hits is not going to win games no matter who is pitching. Focusing on the pitching changes is no excuse for a poor hitting team that cannot execute consistently. I don’t hear anyone blaming Roberts for this. Why not? People blame him for the pitchers not executing? Ridiculous. The players are the one’s on the field, not the manager. Managers deal with probabilities. Players deal with realities, getting on base, getting batters out. The rest is fantasy, personal views.

  8. I have always questioned Roberts in game managing skills. I think a lot of times he over manages, or as some say, micro manages. His lineups sometimes boggle the mind. That being said, it is not easy to win back to back anything and it is a credit to his skills as a communicator that he has been able to get his team into the playoffs, and now twice to the Series in his 3 years as the skipper. His biggest skill is that he has gotten these guys to buy into the system that FAZ wants this team to use. Even Matt Kemp, who FAZ traded because he was supposedly a club house cancer has bought into it. He has turned Yasiel Puig from a club house distraction into a producing member of the team. A lot of that credit goes to Turner Ward who has Yasiel buying into a lot different way to approach his at bats. But when the game starts, all that is moot. Time and time again he has made head scratching decisions. Taking Baez out in game 1 was at that point in time, totally unnecessary. It cost the Dodgers the game. Wood had to that point given up 2 homers in 4 innings. One to a lefty. Roberts knew that Cora was not going to let Dever hit against Wood, but he made the change anyway. Baez was throwing BB’s. Then in game 2, he waited too long to get Madson up in extremely cold weather, so he was not warmed up properly and it cost them the game. Sometimes he is too much like Captain Hook, Sparky Anderson. It might not have been the right decision, but Pearce was 0-2 against Ryu. I would have trusted my starter to get the job done. But we will never know. As for Bellinger sitting on the bench. Yep, Belli was the NLCS MVP and he was on the bench. But lets look at that. First off, he won the MVP award based on 2 hits and a catch. He hit 200 in the NLCS and is hitting .136 in the playoffs over all. He has not hit lefty’s very well all year. Muncy hits close to 20 points higher vs LHP than Bellinger does, so if anything he should have been in there. Right now they are facing a team that won 108 games for a very good reason and they have been over matched, pitching, hitting and managing the Red Sox have outplayed them period. They have a little victory in that the Sox will have to make some decisions as to their lineup since there is no DH for the next 3 games, and the outfield defense will be a little weaker if JD Martinez has to play.

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